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Published on:
Monday 29 April 2024
Arts and humanities

Winners of the Wolfson College Creative Writing Prize Announced

Above: (L-R): Tanuj Luthra, Geoff Beattie and Ester Paolocci.

We are delighted to announce the winners of the inaugural Wolfson College Creative Writing Prize. Congratulations to this year’s top three: Geoff Beattie, Ester Paolocci and Tanuj Luthra, who impressed the judges with their short pieces on the theme of ‘Relocation’The winning entries are available to read below.

The Wolfson College Creative Writing Prize celebrates the literary talent of the Wolfson community. This year’s competition drew entries from a brilliant pool of writers who brought a range of voices and perspectives on the theme of ‘relocation,’ selected to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the College’s move to its current site on the banks of the River Cherwell, designed by architects Powell & Moya.

The judging panel was comprised of Professor Elleke Boehmer, Professor Pablo Mukherjee, Dr Alice Little, and the College’s Creative Arts Fellow, Tom Brennan. After much deliberation, the panel of judges awarded first, second and third place respectively to Professor Geoff Beattie and DPhil students Ester Paolocci and Tanuj Luthra.

Wolfson Creative Arts Fellow and member of the judging panel Tom Brennan said:

“Despite it only being a thousand words, Geoff’s winning entry felt both expansive and personal,” said Tom Brennan. “It was tense, vivid and even darkly funny. Within his auto-biographical story, he managed to give us complex characters, a textured world and a simple but satisfying narrative arc.

“Memories of lost homes and lost family members connected several works. In Tanuj Luthra’s third prize winner, ‘Babu’, a grandchild recreates a portrait of their grandfather through a collage of memories. Similarly, in Ester Paolocci’s second prize winner, ‘Courage’ glimpses of life tell an expansive story of migration and familial love.  

 “But sometimes the pieces described the things that we can’t shake, no matter how hard we try. In one excellent piece by Tara Hurst, an old couch left in a garden becomes an elegant symbol of the rental crisis. On the other hand, in Sam William’s writing, the secret histories of a felled cotton tree are revealed and extrapolated.

“These were all writings about change, transition and movement and each were moving in their own right.”

The Winners

First PlaceThe Turn of the Road by Geoff Beattie

Professor Geoff Beattie is a psychologist, author and broadcaster. He is Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University and Visiting Scholar at OCLW, and has published several academic and non-academic books including two works of fiction. Professor Beattie is currently working on a book entitled Lies, Lying and Liars: A Psychological Analysis.

“I’ve been reflecting on lies in my own life,” said Professor Beattie, “and remembering a lie I told to a friend that effectively broke my emotional bond with my gang from the turn-of-the-road in Belfast – ‘Murder Triangle’, they called the area during the Troubles. The lie meant that I decided to go across the water to university. I noticed that the Wolfson inaugural creative writing prize was on the theme of ‘relocation’, and this particular incident occasioned my relocation, and so much more. I’m delighted to win the prize and to be part of OCLW and this great stimulating college.”

Second Place: Courage by Ester Paolocci

Ester is completing a DPhil in biomedical research. An author for The Oxford Scientist, she explores topics from bias in female health, to neuro-ethics, to the implications of AI’s influence on human thought, and the symbiotic relationship between art and science. Her greatest literary ambition is to write novels.

Third Place: Babu by Tanuj Luthra

Tanuj is a third-year DPhil candidate at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. His doctoral project ethnographically examines the everyday work of Delhi’s informal health providers, who offer essential medical services to the working poor in the city’s low-income neighbourhoods. Tanuj previously studied mathematics and sociology at the University of Delhi.

Further congratulations are in order to the shortlist:

Shaharzad Akbar – Fragments of A Lost Home

Tara Hurst – The Old Couch

Leigh Spicer – Somewhere I Belong

Sam Williams – Freetowns Cotton Tree

Mary Black – Sell You Light