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Northern Writers Awards & National Writing Day 2020

23rd June 2020

This week marks two important dates in the literary calendar - National Writing Day (Wednesday 24 June) and the 21st Northern Writers' Awards.

The Northern Writers' Awards

The Northern Writers’ Awards were founded by the writing agency New Writing North, with Northumbria University a key partner and headline sponsor. Now in their 21st year, the awards recognise talent and support new work towards publication or broadcast by offering mentoring, developmental support and cash awards to writers at all stages of their careers.

The 2020 awards could hardly come at a more significant time, offering financial support and encouragement to writers at a time when Covid-19 is badly affecting the cultural sector.

Although the planned ceremony in Newcastle had to be cancelled, and the industry networking event where winners meet potential agents and publishers has been put on hold, this year's winners have been announced online instead, and appreciation of and support for the awards has never been stronger.

Many of the winning writers have seen their incomes and opportunities plummet as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and said that winning an award means having the confidence and the financial resources to continue writing.

Katy Shaw is Professor of Contemporary Writings at Northumbria and leads the University's partnership with New Writing North. She said: "The Northern Writers’ Awards profile the best new talent from the North of England. At a time when we need culture and the arts more than ever, this year's winners show that the next generation of creative talent has the potential to help us re-frame a post-pandemic world and better understand ourselves and our society.”

As part of its involvement in the awards, Northumbria sponsors the the Northumbria University Student and Alumni Award, worth £2000. This award is open to final year students and recent graduates of the university in any discipline and includes either works of fiction or poetry.

This year's winner has been announced as Andrew Wilkinson who graduated from Northumbria in 2013 with an MA in Creative Writing. Andrew has been writing fiction since he attended a creative writing night class at his local high school 2008-2010. He is currently working on a novel about Gustav Mahler, and his short story ‘Timewind’ featured in the ‘Uncommonalities’ anthology edited by John Schoneboom. Andrew has previously published nonfiction in the field of clinical psychology and psychotherapy. He lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with his wife, two children.

Speaking about his win, Andrew said: "It means a lot to me to win this award. My time at Northumbria University studying creative writing was very enjoyable, very challenging and I learned so much. When you’re juggling a demanding day job with family life it can be hard to hold on to your writer identity, especially during the pandemic when work and home life have been busier than ever. This award couldn’t have come at a better time and when the world settles down I look forward to using the award to get some intensive writing time back into my life and complete the novel.”

Find out more about the Northern Writers' Awards and follow the winners being announced all this week on Twitter.

National Writing Day

This weeks also marks National Writing Day - an annual celebration of the power of writing creatively, inspiring people of all ages and abilities to try writing for fun and self-expression.

To celebrate National Writing Day, academics from Northumbria University have been sharing their thoughts on the importance of studying writing in today's world.

In her article Writing a more equal world: why creative writing degrees matter, Dr Ann-Marie Einhaus, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Programme Leader for the BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, explores why writing is at the heart of building a more equal, diverse and thriving society. She also explains why a degree in Creative Writing, and an ability to tell our own stories is important in presenting our diverse experiences to the world, improving our understanding of events and periods in time.

Professor of Contemporary Writings Katy Shaw discusses how the study of writing can help to prepare us for a future world of work that we can currently only imagine, in her article Write Now: why writing is the only future-proof skill in a post-pandemic world. In this post she explores how the lockdown period has taught us that writing, and effective communication more broadly, can shape our understanding of reality, control our behaviour and ultimately save or risk lives. 

Studying at Northumbria University

Northumbria University offers a variety of undergraduate and masters degrees in writing:

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