The winner's of the Mairtín Crawford Awards in 2020 were;

Poetry Award Winner: Alan Weadick

Short Story Award Winner: Sarah Gilmartin

Despite the cancellation of the Belfast Book Festival in 2020 due to COVID-19, we were delighted that we were able to continue with the Maírtin Crawford Award's.

2020 was the 4th edition for Poetry and the 3rd for Short Story and we received a record-breaking number of submissions for both Awards (over 3 times on previous years).

A big thanks to our esteemed Judges - Moyra Donaldson and Naomi Foyle (Poetry), and Lucy Caldwell and Rachael Kelly (Short Story) for their hard work.

A big thanks to the Sponsors of the 2020 Awards, NIPR Books and The River Mill, for their continued support of the Awards. 



The winner of the Maírtin Crawford Award for Poetry 2020 was Alan Weadick. Click here to read Alan's winning work. 

Alan has been publishing poems widely for over ten years, most recently in The Irish Times New Writing, Cyphers, The Honest Ulsterman, Skylight 47 and in the Culture Matters anthology "Children of the Nation". He has been short and long-listed for competitions including the Strokestown Poetry Festival, Listowel Writer's Week and the National Poetry Competition (UK, 2016), been nominated for a  Hennessy Literary award (Emerging Poetry, also 2016) and won third prize in the Red Line Book Festival poetry competition in 2019. He also writes prose fiction and three of his short stories have been shortlisted and broadcast on RTE Radio for the Francis McManus Short Story competition. He lives in Dublin. 

Judges Moyra Donaldson and Naomi Foyle had the following to say about Alan's work; 

Alan presented a set of poems that, like the best ice-cream parlour, offered a taste of everything that poetry can do: reassure and enrich us with the classic flavours of empathy and intimacy, invigorate with the tang of social comment, and surprise with bold, pungent swirls of the unusual, disturbing and surreal. The formal choices here are varied and controlled. These are poems composed with a craft strong enough to support their compelling defamiliarizing vision, and well-deserving of first place. 



The winner of the Maírtin Crawford Award for Short Story 2020 was Sarah Gilmartin and her story The Wife. Click here to read her winning work

Sarah is an arts journalist who reviews debut fiction for the Irish Times. She has an MFA from University College Dublin and is co-editor of Stinging Fly Stories. Her short stories have been listed for the Sean O’Faolain Short Story Award, the RTE Francis MacManus Short Story Award, and the Hennessy New Irish Writing Prize. Her poem Questions and Answers, inspired by the testimony of abuse survivor Michael O’Brien on RTE, was published in Ropes Literary Journal. Sarah won Best Playwright for her play Match at the Short+Sweet Dublin 2019 festival. She is represented by Sallyanne Sweeney of MMB Creative.

Join judge of the Mairtín Crawford Award for Short Story Lucy Caldwell as she chats with Sarah about her work and her current favourite authors.


The Runner-Up's for the Award's were;


Elena Croitoru - Click here to read Elena's work.

Elena has an MSt in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. Her work has been selected for the Best New British and Irish Poets 2019 and she won second place in the Edward Thomas Award, third place in the Open House Poetry Competition and was highly commended in the Wales Poetry Award. She was shortlisted for the Gregory O’Donoghue Prize, Wasafiri New Writing Prize, Bridport Prize and other awards. She is also editing her first novel & working on a poetry collection. 

When ask why she chose to participate in the Martin Crawford Award, Elena said:

It's a great opportunity to have someone look at a portfolio of poems and give you the confidence that you may have the start of a collection. Even if one doesn't win or get shortlisted, there is immense value in reflecting on how a few pieces relate to each other and asking oneself whether there are stylistic elements or themes that resurface in one's work. Another advantage of this award is the fact that entries are anonymous.

Ruby Fatimilehin - Click here to read Ruby's work.

Originally from Manchester and is currently study English Literature at the University of Leeds. Ruby is of mixed Nigerian and English heritage and these identities, combined with her Mancunian pride, heavily influence her work. Her poetry blends vivid metaphors and images of the natural world with urban landscape and resonant voice. She has enjoyed writing poetry from a young age, and was delighted to have been shortlisted for the Mairtín Crawford Award for Poetry 2020. She is a contributor to Black Joy, an anthology due to be published in September 2021.

Ruby's advice for people thinking about entering the Martin Crawford Award:

If you are considering entering the Martin Crawford Award, I strongly encourage you to go for it! The award is a great opportunity to share your work and celebrate the talent of other skilled poets and authors.

Short Story

Amy Slack - The Company of Mirrors - Click here to read Amy's story.

Amy is a writer and editor from the north-east of England. After graduating from Queen’s University, Belfast, she now lives in London, where she gently reminds people that there is life beyond the M25. She is currently studying part-time for a Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck. Amy’s short stories have been published by Fairlight, Flashback Fiction, Spelk, Milk Candy Review, Honey and Lime, and the Mechanics’ Institute Review, among others. In 2020 she was shortlisted the Cambridge Prize for Flash Fiction.

When ask why she chose to participate in the Martin Crawford Award, Amy said:

Short story writers always need to keep an eye out for competitions and submission opportunities, and when I heard about the Mairtín Crawford Award I knew I had to enter. I lived in Belfast for three years while studying at Queen's, and I miss the city so much – especially this last year or so, when the pandemic has kept us all from travelling. I loved the idea of submitting to a Belfast-based competition at a time when I couldn't physically visit the city. If that wasn't reason enough to participate, I also have to add that I was excited (and a little terrified) by the idea of submitting a story that would be read and judged by Lucy Caldwell, as her book Multitudes is one of my all-time favourite collections. It was published just after I graduated and moved away from Belfast, and it resonated with me so much that it turned me towards writing short stories. Hearing that my story made the shortlist for the Award was a real full-circle moment.

Chris Wright - The Space Above the Wardrobe - Click here to read Chris's story.

From Bangor, Northern Ireland, Chris's short fiction has appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, The Cormorant, Parentheses International Literary Arts Journal, The Wellington Street Review, and many more. In 2020, his work will be featured in several print anthologies, such as Declarations on Freedom—commissioned to celebrate 700 years since the Declaration of Arbroath— The Bramley, the Reflex Press Anthology, and the Write Festival Anthology. In 2019, alongside appearing in dozens of publications, he was highly commended in the Writers’ Forum Short Story Competition, won a place on the Stinging Fly Summer School in Dublin, received a John Hewitt International Bursary, as well as a SIAP Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Some words from Chris:

Writing competitions can be an important part of an up and coming writer’s career. Some writers love them, some hate them, but most will agree that they can be a necessity in trying to build your profile. Even so much as a shortlisting can elevate a writer’s career and be a fantastic entry on a CV and, when the time comes to submit a novel to an agent, it helps to have some accolades or publications under your belt.

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