Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize: Open for Submissions

By Wasafiri Editor on January 15, 2020 in

Prizes of £1,000 each to be awarded this year to the best new writers of fiction, life writing, and poetry

From 15 January to 1 June 2020, the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize will be receiving submissions from around the world. Writers who haven’t yet published a book-length work in their chosen genre can enter, regardless of age, gender, nationality, or background, in hopes of winning the £1,000 prize in each category: Fiction, Life Writing, Poetry. As well as the cash prize, winners and shortlisted writers may be eligible for a Chapter and Verse award, courtesy of The Literary Consultancy (TLC), worth £2,000, or Free Reads mentoring, to support them as they grow and develop their work.

In 2020, the prize has another stellar line-up of judges: Penguin editor Simon Prosser (Fiction), journalist Ada Edemariam (Life Writing), and award-winning poet Raymond Antrobus (Poetry). The prize is chaired by publisher and poet Kadija Sesay.

Since launching in 2009, the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize – which turned ten last year – has received entries from dozens of countries each year. Previous winners of the prize have later published with Verso, HarperCollins India, Smokestack Books, Peepal Tree Press, Bluemoose Books, and flipped eye. They have gone on to win or be shortlisted for prizes including the Poetry London competition, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize, The White Review Short Story Prize, Ambit Short Fiction, OCM Bocas Poetry Prize, the Edge Hill Prize, and the Guyana Prize for Literature. Winning the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize is an invaluable springboard for writers’ careers.

For us at Wasafiri, the prize is a wonderful way to discover and support new voices from around the world. Winners, shortlistees and entrants have gone on to write for us and sustain a relationship with the magazine. We look forward to the new words, and worlds this year’s entries will bring.


One of the many impacts of COVID-19 has been on writers’ schedules and headspace. We are acknowledging this by extending the deadline for our new writing prize. If you want to enter the prize, we want you to be able to; if you’ve been struggling to write or to find time, we hope the extra fortnight might ease the pressure. The new closing date of the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize is 15 June 2020 at 17:00 BST. You can read the full entry guidelines and enter here.

Read the 2019 winning entries in Fiction, Life Writing, and Poetry

Photo Credit, (L-R): Kadija Sesay (Chair), Simon Prosser (Fiction) (Photo credit: Sharron Wallace for Museum of Colour), Aida Edemariam (Life Writing), and Raymond Antrobus (Poetry) (Photo credit: Suki Dhada)