The Intrigue of the Image by Leila Aboulela

In this exclusive piece, Leila Aboulela, Fiction judge for the 2023 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize, looks back to the beginning of her writing life – including her long relationship and publication history with Wasafiri – and considers the intrigue of the lingering image, offering writing advice to potential prize entrants.


2021 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize Shortlist Announced

Fifteen writers across three genres have been shortlisted for the prestigious and uniquely international Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize, this year judged by Hirsh Sawhney (Fiction), Christie Watson (Life Writing), and Tishani Doshi (Poetry), and chaired by Andrew Cowan.   Shortlistees for the…


American Blue by Michael Malay

‘There is a blue in America I haven’t seen anywhere else, though I sometimes look for it.’ Shortlisted for the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize for Life Writing, ‘American Blue’ by Michael Malay.


Red by Lola Olufemi

‘revolution is not a one-time event, it is always already happening; the question is – are you ready for it?’ Shortlisted for the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize for Fiction, a new short story by Lola Olufemi.


Wasafiri Wonders: Nikesh Shukla

‘I try not to romanticise the writing process too much. Life is busy. Inspiration strikes at odd times. If I have to have crystals on my desk and write with a pencil in a notebook forged by the ancient Greeks between 7am and 8.45am while listening to pink noise… seriously who has the bloody time. Just write.’ Wasafiri Wonders with Nikesh Shukla


Kalashnikov by Joanna Smith

The artwork Throne of Weapons sits in the British Museum, it’s presence calling to mind memories of a post-Civil War Mozambique. Joanna Smith’s ‘Kalashnikov’ was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2018 in Life Writing.


Dead Tongues by Peter J Coles

Tabeko’s fans enjoy watching her eat online, so what will she do when her hunger goes missing?Shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2018 in ‘Fiction’.


Mountain of the Night by Jo Jackson

A woman returns to her childhood home in Zimbabwe. With the house seemingly frozen in time, she’s prompted to revisit memories of her past. Shortlisted for the 2018 Wasafiri New Writing Prize ‘Life Writing’ category.


The Window by Nicki Frith

Set over the 2017 general election, a shopkeeper discovers, with morbid consequences, that she can attract customers by dedicating her window display to the daily news. Shortlisted for the 2018 Wasafiri New Writing Prize.


Bobby by Sarah Frances Armstrong

Lydia and Amy are both expecting in this short story which delves into the emotional highs and lows of pregnancy. Shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2017


Seven Hells by Zaid Hassan

Displaced by the Syrian War, Helin goes on a journey to find her husband and re-connect her family in Zaid Hassan’s short story ‘Seven Hells’, shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2017.


Sixteen, Seventeen by Max Dunbar

In a stand-off with her teacher, Leah is saved by the Hour of Pity. Sixteen, Seventeen by Max Dunbar was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2017 for Fiction.


On Day 21 by Ruby Cowling

Once the machine arrives in the home, the switch becomes a secret. On Day 21 by Ruby Cowling was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing  Prize 2017 in the Fiction category.


Mixed Blessings by Melissa Fu

Shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2017 in the Life Writing category, ‘Mixed Blessings’ examines dual heritages and mixed race identity.


Bentong! Go Back to Bentong! by Aliyah Kim Keshani

Shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2017. “We walk on wet gravel, following the silver hearse up the hill. In front of me, my eldest cousin. He rests his hand on the boot of the car, his face scrunched with tears. ‘Bentong!’ he shouts. ‘Go back to Bentong!’”


Skin by Alexandra Viets

Shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2016 in the Life Writing category, Skin by Alexandra Viets examines family, time, glamour and illness.


Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2018 is open for submissions

The prize was launched to support new writers, with no limits on age, gender, nationality or background. A winner will be chosen by our stellar line up of judges for each category: Fiction; Poetry; Life Writing. The three winners will be published by Wasafiri and receive a cash prize. They will also be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility).

Ndinda Kioko

Some Freedom Dreams by Ndinda Kioko

Ndinda Kioko is the winner of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2017, fiction category.

Samira wanted me to say yes. She had asked if I could accompany her to an exhibition later that day. Though this was the kind of thing I hated, it was impossible to say no to Samira with my head resting on the softness of her thigh, with her hands twisting my hair into Bantu knots. When I said yes, she shifted her body on the bed so that my head rested on the bare mattress, and then she kissed me.

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

Green Eyed by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough lives in Norfolk with her husband and three children. Her pamphlet Glass was a winner in the Paper Swans inaugural pamphlet competition and became a Poetry Society ‘Top Pick’. Her debut collection Sightings was published by Pindrop Press. Her poems have appeared in The RialtoMslexiaMagmaStandI,S&T, and The Cannons’ Mouth.

Helen de Burca

A Pair of Silk Stockings by Helen de Burca

Helen de Búrca was born in Ireland and lives in Geneva, Switzerland. Her prize-winning stories have been published in The Irish Literary Review, the Sunday Business Post, the Nivalis 2016 anthology, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology 2017, the Lakeview International Journal of Literature and the Arts, and Bare Fiction Magazine. ‘A Pair of Silk Stockings’ was shortisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2016.

Cheryl Anderson

Round Yard by Cheryl Anderson

We used to keep chickens in the backyard. They came to us by way of My Uncle Sam’s Ford Cortina; yellow exterior, black roof and two furry dice hanging from the rear view mirror. Class. We, that is my mother’s extended family and me, all lived in a four-bedroom house on Comerford Road in Brockley. We called it ‘Yard’ and round Yard every room was a bedroom, except for the bathroom, kitchen and My Nana’s prized front room.

Jill Widner

Dreaming in Latin by Jill Widner

Jill Widner’s story ‘Dreaming in Latin’ was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2015 and was also a finalist in the Iowa Review’s 2016 creative nonfiction competition and Narrative Magazine’s spring 2015 competition. Her fiction has been published in American Short Fiction; Asia Literary Review (Hong Kong); Drunken Boat; Everywhere Stories (Press 53); The Fiddlehead (Canada); Kyoto Journal (Japan); North American Review; Short Fiction (UK); and the Willesden Herald anthology (UK).

Ola Awonubi

Five Minute Interview with Ola Awonubi

Ola Awonubi studied for an MA in Creative writing and Imaginative Practice at the University of East London and in 2008 her short story The Pink House, won first prize in the National words of colour competition. This was followed by another story – The Go-Slow Journey, winning the first prize in the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2009. Some of her short stories feature on blogs and journals and anthologies such as African, Story Time, The Ake Review, The, The Woven Tale Press and more recently Brittle Paper.

The Cheekovit

The Cheekovit by HM Aziz

HM Aziz grew up in Kuala Lumpur where she attended a school founded by doughty Plymouth Brethren missionaries. She is a recent graduate of City, University of London’s MA in creative nonfiction.

Rowyda Amin

Five Minute Interview with Rowyda Amin

Rowyda Amin is the author of two pamphlets, We Go Wandering At Night And Are Consumed By Fire (Sidekick Books, 2017), and Desert Sunflowers (flipped eye, 2014). In 2009, she was awarded the Wasafiri New Writing Prize for poetry and in 2012 she won the Venture award from flipped eye press. She has performed at many UK venues including the Ledbury Poetry Festival, the Brighton Festival, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Festival Hall.

Sally St Clair

Five Minute Interview with Sally St Clair

Sally St Clair’s stories have been published in Stand and Panurge. Her poems have been published in various anthologies including Beautiful Dragons, and The Raving Beauties Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe). She has had a prize winning poem in the Arvon International Poetry Competition. She has been shortlisted for short stories (amongst others the BBC Short Stories competition and the Bridport Prize) and poems (Mslexia) and appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussing her contribution to The Death of a Mother in 1994. She is currently working on a collection of poems, as well as a novel about the nature of ambition.

Amaal Said

I keep trying to lose my body by Amaal Said

Amaal Said is a Danish-born Somali photographer and poet based in London. Her photographs have been featured in Vogue, The Guardian and The New Yorker. She is concerned with storytelling and how best she can connect with people to document their stories. She is a member of the Burn After Reading poetry Collective as well as the Octavia Collective, and she is a Barbican Young Poet. She won Wasafiri Magazine’s New Writing Prize for poetry in 2015.

Jo Stones

The Lotus Instructions by Jo Stones

Jo Stones has lived in South London for thirty-four years, having been born and bred in Sheffield then New Zealand. She returned to study as an adult, graduated with a degree in film and works as an archivist for Film and TV. She returned again to study at Birkbeck University graduating in 2014 with an MA in Creative Writing. Jo is a regular at Mad Poets, Hanbury Street and is working on a Young Adult Novel as well as poetry and short stories.

Aurvi Sharma

Five Minute Interview with Aurvi Sharma

Aurvi Sharma has been awarded the Gulf Coast Nonfiction Prize, the Prairie Schooner Essay Prize, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize in Life Writing, the AWP Emerging Writer Scholarship, and a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award. She has received fellowships and scholarships from the MacDowell Colony, the Santa Fe Art Institute, Tin House Writer’s Workshop and Sarai. One of her essays was a notable in the 2016 Best American Essays. Her writing is also forthcoming or has appeared in The Kenyon ReviewPleiadesFourth Genre and Essay Daily.

Anita Pati

Five Minute Interview with Anita Pati

Anita Pati won the Wasafiri New Writing Prize (poetry) in 2013, has been a Jerwood/Arvon mentee and was one of 2015’s Aldeburgh Eight winners. Her poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies including Poetry London, The Rialto, Best British Poetry, Magma and The North. She has been a journalist, a library assistant and other things in between. Anita is working towards her first collection.

Simon Van der Velde

Five Minute Interview with Simon Van der Velde

Simon Van der Velde was born and educated in Newcastle upon Tyne where he trained and practiced as a lawyer, before leaving the legal profession to concentrate full time on his writing.  He now lives in Newcastle with his wife and two tyrannical children. Simon has won both the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2014, and The Park Publications Prize, 2016.

Ann Field

A Red Glow in the Night
 by Ann Field

Ann Field hails from Leixlip, County Kildare, Ireland. Belonging to a Creative Writing Group, she has numerous stories published in magazines and shortlisted to read for Kildare Readers Festival in 2015. Along with writing, Ann enjoys painting and attends a reading group with a penchant for crime thrillers.

Gita Ralleigh

Five Minute Interview with Gita Ralleigh

Gita Ralleigh completed her MA in creative writing at Birkbeck in 2015 and has had short stories published by Wasafiri, Bellevue Literary Review, Fox Spirit, the Word Factory and Freight (February 2017). She is currently writing a children’s novel and had her first poem for children published by The Emma Press in 2016.

Cliff Chen

Five Minute Interview with Cliff Chen

Cliff Chen is a Trinidadian-born writer. He has published several short stories and was winner of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize for Life Writing (2013) and also shortlisted for fiction category that same year. He won 3rd prize in the Golden Pen competition, was Fish International Short Story finalist (2002) and semi-finalist in Carve Magazine‘s Esoteric Short Story competition (2014). He studied at Edinburgh and Oxford and is writing his first novel.

Jaki McCarrick

Five Minute Interview with Jaki McCarrick

Jaki McCarrick is an award-winning writer of plays, poetry and fiction. She won the 2010 Papatango New Writing Prize for her play, Leopoldville, and her most recent play, Belfast Girls, developed at the National Theatre Studio, London, was shortlisted for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the 2014 BBC Tony Doyle Award and won the Galway Theatre Festival Playwriting Prize. Belfast Girls premiered in Chicago in May 2015 to much critical acclaim and is shortly to make its debut in Canada.

Janine Rich

Israeli Summer by Janine Rich

ישראלי קיץ*

-was the name of the movie marathon

playing on yes.vod that summer

The trailer played     constant

nostalgic music droning over images of

young, dark haired actresses.

Catherine Mee

Five Minute Interview with Catherine Mee

Catharine Mee grew up in Birkenhead and now lives in Durham. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in French and Italian literature. Her stories have been published in Wasafiri, The Salt Anthology of New Writing 2013, Unthology and Prole, as well as online. She won the Wasafiri New Writing competition in 2012.

Koye Oyedeji

Postscript From The Black Atlantic by Koye Oyedeji

It was going to take two weeks for the ocean liner to reach the United Kingdom but Lawal hoped that the journey – the time between worlds – would help bridge the divide between homeland and sanctuary, shame and prosperity. He was young, but there was already much to put behind him and so, by day, as the ship sailed aside the coast of west Africa, he let his optimism ride along, surfing the slate-grey waves his ancestors once worshipped.

Richard Scott

Five Minute Interview with Richard Scott

Richard Scott was born in London in 1981. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review, Poetry London, Swimmers, The Poetry of Sex (Penguin) and Butt Magazine. He has been a winner of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, a Jerwood/Arvon Poetry Mentee and a member of the Aldeburgh 8. His pamphlet Wound, published by Rialto, won the Michael Marks Poetry Award 2016.

Jane Ryan

Five Minute Interview with Jane Ryan

Jane Ryan co-won the Wasafiri New Writing Fiction Prize in 2010. She is currently working with secondary schools who have adopted her recently launched teen spy thriller series Missing Dad 1: Wanted (Troubador) for use with library reading groups. Book 2: Twisted is out this Spring and Books 3 and 4 are due out during 2017 – Spring 2018.

Abeer Hoque

Five Minute Interview with Abeer Hoque

Abeer Y. Hoque is a Nigerian born Bangladeshi American writer and photographer. She likes graffiti, sticky toffee pudding, and the end of the current US administration. Her books include a travel photography and poetry monograph, a collection of linked stories, poems, and photographs, and a memoir.


Hospital Notes by Alice Curham

Alice Curham lives by the sea in Kent with her partner and son and three goldfish. She has had poetry published in Dream Catcher and Red Pepper magazines and been shortlisted in the Gladstone’s Library Short Story competition and longlisted for the Plough Prize. — The fair-haired girl took her for…


Saturdays by Sarala Estruch

Sarala Estruch was born in London in 1983 to a French mother and Indian father. Her work frequently explores questions of identity, and the interplay of different cultures. She was commended for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2015, and was a prizewinner in the PBS National Student Poetry Competition…


Bush Tea by Richard Georges

Richard Georges is a writer, editor and lecturer in the British Virgin Islands. His poetry has appeared in Smartish Pace, sx salon, Barrelhouse, The Caribbean Writer, Wasafiri and elsewhere. In 2016, he won the Marvin E Williams Literary Prize from The Caribbean Writer. — The waters train you to re…


Welcome by Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo/Tamil writer and video artist based in liminal spaces. Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Akwaeke holds two degrees, including an MPA from New York University. The Miles Morland Foundation recently awarded her a 2015 Morland Writing Scholarship for her second novel…


Under the Tamarind by Royston Emmanuel

Royston Emmanuel is a teacher trainer at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, St. Lucia, specializing in digital media, technology in education and Literature.  He is inspired by the writings of Caribbean poets Mervyn Morris and Kamau Brathwaite, particularly the ability to use language in unique…


After the end of England by Gillian Best

Gillian Best is a writer whose debut novel will be published by Freight Books in Spring 2017. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2013) and published in her native Canada and the UK. She currently lives and works in Bristol. The shortlisted entry below is an extract from her for…


Greek Lessons by Jill Germanacos

Jill Germanacos has lived outside the UK for the past twenty years, moving from Paris to Kazakhstan to Romania with her husband’s work before settling in Greece in 2001. Despite Greece’s current woes, it has been a great place to bring up our four children and give them exposure to their partly Gree…


How to make Pan Catalan by Mark Fiddes

Mark Fiddes is a London poet whose first collection, The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre, was published by Templar Poetry in March 2015. It has since been  shortlisted in the 2015 Saboteur Awards. His work has been published in Aesthetica Magazine, the Frogmore Papers and Southword and he has been reco…


Dreamsplitter Robin by James Ganderton

Robin Ganderton has already outlived John Keats and is on course to do the same with Percy Bysshe Shelley. Last year he won the Terry Hetherington Award for Welsh Writers Under Thirty and has just been selected to receive a Literature Wales bursary to work on his novel in progress. You can follow hi…


The Kitchen Duppy by Beth Thompson and Ovarn Brown

Ovarn Brown was born in Black River, Jamaica. Beth Thompson was born in Melbourne, Australia. ‘The Kitchen Duppy’ is the first story they have written together. — The night jasmine flowers once the sun sets. It sends pollen on the wings of moths and gnats to bump into yellow-lit lanterns and drop p…


At the speed of light, squared by AKaiser

AKaiser’s poems have recently appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, Temenos Journal and Coldnoon: Travel Poetics. This past spring, she was a resident at JIWAR, Spain. She is a translator, currently working on the writings of Cebrià de Montoliu, the first translator of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass into…


Walking in Lapeyrouse by Ayanna Gillian Lloyd

Ayanna Gillian Lloyd is a fiction and life writer from Trinidad & Tobago. She has been published in The Caribbean Writer and was shortlisted for Wasafiri’s New Writing Prize and the Smallaxe Literary Competition in 2014. She is an alumna of the Cropper Foundation Residential Workshop, The St Jam…


Supply and Demand by Glen Wilson

Glen Wilson lives in Portadown, Co. Armagh with his wife Rhonda and children Sian and Cain. He has been published in Iota, A New Ulster and The Interpreters House. In 2014 he won the Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. He is currently working on his first…


Ellery Creek by Anne Vines

Anne Vines is based in Melbourne, Australia. She was shortlisted in the Henry Handel Richardson Short Story Award, The Age Short Story Award and the Alan Marshall Short Story Award and commended in the Varuna Harper-Collins Award and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. She won the Boroondara Pri…


My Father’s War by Paola Trimarco

Paola Trimarco is a writer and linguist. Her short stories and essays have appeared in several literary magazines and her stage plays have been performed at London’s King’s Head Theatre and Arts Theatre Cambridge Studio. She has recently authored Digital Textuality published by Palgrave Macmillan. -…