UofG lecturer among Literature Matters Awards winner

Issued: Fri, 30 Apr 2021 09:00:00 BST

The Royal Society of Literature (RSL), the voice for the value of literature in the UK, has today announced the winners of the 2021 RSL Literature Matters Awards.

The Awards aim to enable literary excellence and innovation, providing writers with financial support to undertake new literary projects that extend the reach of literature.

The judges - Adjoa Andoh, Hannah Berry and Ian McMillan - commented: "We were blown away by the level of industry and ambition on display. Creativity endures – there is so much still to be said and done, and no virus can stem the tide."

Among the seven projects working across forms that have been chosen by judges is Dr Carolyn Jess Cooke's The Stay-At-Home! Literary Festival - a virtual literary festival dedicated to developing writers and readers.

Dr Jess-Cooke is a poet and novelist published in 23 languages and lecturer at the UofG's School of Critical Studies. She is also the founder and Director of the Stay-At-Home! Literary Festival.

Dr Jess-Cooke said: "To win a RSL Literature Matters Award shows a vote of confidence from a literary organisation of prestige. It is very encouraging to have our work recognised, and most importantly it enables us to make this years’ SAHLF the best it can be."

Hannah Berry, RSL Literature Matters Awards Judge, said: "As things begin to return to normality and physical events once again replace the digital, we must not sacrifice the access that has been afforded to so many who would or could not otherwise attend these events, and I’m keen to support this superb festival which neatly sidesteps exclusivity, inviting and encouraging both guests and audiences outside of the usual literary festival crowd."

First awarded in 2018, the RSL Literature Matters Awards aim to enable literary excellence and innovation, providing writers with financial support to undertake new literary projects that extend the reach of literature.

Previous recipients of the Awards have included Pascale Petit, Michael Caines, Kate Clanchy, Alycia Pirmohamed, Will Eaves, Charlotte Ansell and Janett Plummer.

The RSL Literature Matters Awards are one of nine annual awards and prizes presented by the RSL which bring the widest possible community of writers and readers together in celebration of the breadth of UK literature. From debut works and unpublished short stories through to the notoriously challenging second novel and outstanding contributions to literature, the RSL’s awards and prizes celebrate the value of the written word in all its forms, whilst supporting emerging and established writers at some of the most challenging moments of their careers.


The Royal Society of Literature

The Royal Society of Literature (RSL) was founded in 1820. The RSL acts as a voice for the value of literature, honouring and supporting emerging and established writers whilst creating a bridge between authors and audiences to engage as many people as possible with the breadth of UK literature. 

RSL Literature Matters Awards

Now in their fourth year, the RSL Literature Matters Awards aim to reward and enable literary excellence and innovation. The Awards provide individual writers or other literary creators, financial support to undertake a literary project. Priority is given to proposals which will help connect with audiences or topics outside the usual reach of literature, and/or will help generate public discussion about why literature matters. These Awards are made possible by the generous donations and legacies of RSL Fellows, and by the support of our Literature Matters Supporters’ Circle.

2021 RSL Literature Matters Awards winners

£2000 – Saleh Addonia – The Feeling House
Short story collection focusing on time, remembering, and forgetting, exile and alienation and hearing.

£3500  Sawad Hussain – Bila Hudood: Arabic Literature Everywhere
An online literary festival showcasing Arabic literature. 

£2800  Carolyn Jess-Cooke – The Stay-At-Home! Literary Festival
A virtual literary festival dedicated to developing writers and readers.

£1990 – Axe Marnie – Fisher Cats of Newhaven
A children’s comic, set in the historic fishing town of Newhaven in the mid-19th century recasting the fishing community as cats.

£2500  Richard O’Neill – Bridges to Literature
Connecting Roma Gypsy pupils to literature through their cultural and oral history.

£3600  Anita Sethi  I Belong Here – Northern Nature Writers Network & Workshops
For northern writers from BAME and low-income backgrounds. 

£3610 Elspeth Wilson – Un/Natural 
Accessible workshops for D/deaf, disabled, and neurodiverse writers on nature writing.