Acceptance Speech from Graham Mort

by Equusignis

On Winning the Edge Hill Prize

photo by Equusignis

 

I’m sending this message from Kampala. Almost as soon as I arrived here, I received Penny Thomas’ message saying that I’d won the Edge Hill Prize for short fiction. The title story, ‘Touch’ begins here in Uganda and that seemed somehow fitting.

My relief at winning was tinged with regret for the other finalists – all of them terrific writers, who also deserved to win. I’m glad that some of them will be picking up other prizes and I’m honored to be listed amongst them. Literary prizes were never intended to provoke competition alone but to celebrate diversity, quality and commitment. I’m pleased to have been awarded the prize on those terms and in that spirit of solidarity.

I want to thank the judges for all their work in sifting entries and Edge Hill University for their work on behalf of the short story in recent years – not only this prize, but also the new journal — Short Fiction in Theory and Practice - they have launched that links scholarly and creative work. They’ve played a key role in the very resurgence of the short story with the vision and leadership of Ailsa Cox – herself a fine writer of short fiction.

I’m proud to be published by Seren and was delighted at the quality of their design and production. I also want to applaud the role that independent presses have played in bringing out short fiction where more commercial publishers might have flinched – their contribution was obvious from both the longlist and the shortlist for the prize.

My editor, Penny Thomas, will be reading this message for me – she was a pleasure to work with, a wise and patient guide. Seren also provided an impressive editorial process that gave me confidence in the final draft through their forensic questioning of my references and spelling!

Lastly, I want to thank Maggie, my partner to whom the book is dedicated. Without her, life would have been less rich, less urgent, less worth living and writing about.

I’m sorry not to be at the ceremony, though I’m not sorry to be here in Kampala, working with Femrite, a women writers association who represent an emerging generation of Ugandan writers who don’t have this kind of opportunity to publish or win prizes. Their work is pitched at social conditions that they believe can be changed by the insights and understanding that literature creates. I believe that, too.

It’s around 9.00pm in Kampala and I’ll be on the Guest House terrace on Makerere Hill with a crowd of animated Ugandans who gather to talk about life, love and politics. I’ll be sipping a Nile Special, listening to the frogs and grasshoppers under a crescent moon, thinking of you all with gratitude and watching the city’s six other hills dim down for the night. Thank you and cheers — have a great evening!

Graham

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Graham Mort
Graham Mort

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graham Mort is a poet and author of radio drama and short fiction. A former freelance writer, he is now Professor of Creative Writing and Transcultural Literature at Lancaster University where he directs the PhD programme in Creative Writing.

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More information about the Edge Hill Prize and the other shortlisted authors is available HERE.


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