The winners of this year’s Wild Atlantic Words literary festival short story competition, judged by Lisa McInerney and sponsored by Bridge St, have been announced. First prize went to Chris Kennedy of Curry, Co. Sligo for his story, ‘Farmer Wife’, while the runners-up were Ryan Wiles of Co. Antrim for ‘A Bit Part’ and Kevin Dardis of Co. Dublin, now living in Germany, for ‘Envy’.
The following stories also made the shortlist: ‘It Would Be Nice To See You’ – Emma Flynn (Co. Kerry); ‘Legacy’ – Rosie Cowan (Co. Antrim); ‘The Stray’ – Kate Phelan (Co. Wexford); ‘The Blue Star’ – Aoibheann McCann (Co. Galway).
Although the 2020 Wild Atlantic Words literary festival was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, its short story competition still attracted more than 200 entries from Irish writers in 11 countries around the world. The three winning stories are available to read on the festival’s website, www.wildatlanticwords.ie, until October 24.
Judge Lisa McInerney commented, “With all we have been through in 2020, creative writing as an outlet takes on a particular importance. At the best of times, writing allows us to make sense of things, explore solutions, and put ourselves in others’ shoes. In 2020… well. All of the above apply, but with urgency. More than ever, we need to keep telling stories.
“Thank you all for being inventive, responsive, and, above all, brave. We writers are lucky to have competitions such as this to light fires under us.
“Our winning story this year, ‘Farmer Wife’, is clever, and moving, and perfectly-formed. An unnamed young wife goes about the day under her own ‘new normal’, adapting to what needs to be done after her husband suffers a serious injury. We stay in close-up, in her confidence, enduring and obsessing and overcoming with her. The writing is blisteringly frank and yet at the same time, somehow tricksy, its style fashioned in service to the sentiment of the story. It gets better on every read.
“Our runners up are two very different stories: ‘Envy’, a tale told in perfect vignettes, startling images deployed in place of a traditional beginning-middle-end, and ‘A Bit Part’, an unfettered, comical, and yet touching story about trauma, healing, and how we all might be just a small bit off-kilter.”