Results – 2014



Bare Fiction Prize 2014 Results

issue5-cover-tempThe first, second and third prizewinners in each of the three categories will be published in the Spring 2015 issue of Bare Fiction Magazine and, later, on the magazine’s website. The prizes will be awarded at our Spring launch reading in London in March 2015 (date to be confirmed).

Flash Fiction Entries: 461
Poetry Entries: 576
Short Story Entries: 571
Total Entries: 1608

All entries were judged anonymously.

Details updated on 15th January 2015.

Short Story Category

Judges: Tania Hershman & Rachel Trezise

1st Prize (£500):

David McGrath, Ger Sheen and the Satanists (UK)

2nd Prize (£200):

Allie Rogers, Trout Quintet (UK)

3rd Prize (£100):

Anne Corlett, The Clay Baby (UK)

Highly Commended x 2 (£25):

Roy Marshall, Late (UK) chosen by Tania Hershman
Jenni Lawson, The Present (UK) chosen by Rachel Trezise

Shortlisted (in no particular order):

Paul Nicholas, The Clock (UK)
Annalisa Crawford, 133 Steps (UK)
Frances Gapper, Broken Thing (UK)
Tamara Jones, Dead Daffodils (UK)
Joanna Walsh, Enzo Ponza (UK)
Hannah Gildea, And Still the Sea is Salt (Portland, OR)
Jack Cooke, Still Life (UK)
Penny Simpson, Winter Solstice (UK)
Melanie Whipman, Dissolving (UK)
Paddy Doherty, The Lonely Gene (Spain)
Rachel Cather, Life of a Wasp (Belgium)

Judges’ Reports

Tania Hershman: I always approach judging first and foremost with an acute awareness of how it feels to be judged, to send your work out there and ask for it to be pitted against hundreds of other pieces of writing. And that to attempt to pick several as “best” is a little like choosing from many varieties of fruit, or cheese. Yes, they are all edibles, but each type has its own merits, and even within them, some apples appeal to me more, say. When I’m the sole judge it is really about my apple preference, but this time I was delighted to be co-judge with Rachel, and intrigued about how our tastes might overlap. Reading the longlist for the first time, I take it slow, and some stories leap out at me. Some are definite Yesses, some are Maybes, the majority are not: they don’t have a winning feel for me. Then, a second read sees things shifting. Maybes becomes Yesses, some Yesses are more Maybe.Finally, I came up with my list, and Rachel hers, and we compared, discussed, and ultimately managed the task of picking our winners and commended. Our winning story, ‘Ger Sheen and the Satanists’, leapt out for both of us because the voice is absolutely astonishing from the opening sentence, and it never lets up! But more than that, the story is mesmerising, bizarrre, frankly offensive, taking wonderful risks. I loved that this story felt “messy” in the best way, it demanded a certain untidiness, a chaos. It is, simply, unforgettable, and with each subsequent read the effect was not diminished, which is really saying something. Our second prize winner ‘Trout Quintet’ scared us both, it is deeply disturbing, poetic and ungraspable, it slips and slides, giving us just enough to understand what might be going on. “Just enough” is vital when it comes to great short stories, to any great writing. Our third prize winner, ‘Clay Baby’, does this so well too. This story handles surreality beautifully, weaving it without explanation, asking us to accept this world, and – as the best magical realist stories do – telling us about our own world, our own situations, coming at it slant. I chose to commend ‘Late’, which I really enjoyed for its repetition and its merging of love into a situation that seems so at odds with love.

It was an honour to read all these stories, congratulations to the winners and to all those who took that step, who sent their words out into the world. If you didn’t win, please do it again. And again.

Rachel Trezise: In the week between Christmas and New Year I set about reading the fifty short stories that had arrived in my inbox via filter judge Penny Thomas. As with all short stories I paid particular attention to the story openings looking from the start for the initial hook. There were very few instances in which I was disappointed and in any case went on to find the remainder of the story worthy of its place in the filtered pile. The good quality of the entries was evident from the first five stories, which were excellent, and the strength never really wavered.
When I finished reading I returned to the novel I’d begun reading a few days earlier — A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (it’s a very long novel) — in order to force the stories out of my mind. I was asked for my choice of top ten stories two days later. The ones I listed were invariably the stories that had forced themselves back into my mind despite my attempts to keep them at bay.
Having judged the Under 21 category of the Rhys Davies short story prize alone in summer 2014 it was a relief to know that I had a co-judge, Tania Hershman, with which to discuss and examine my choices. Tania and I picked our top three stories in order to compare and contrast against one another. We were immediately agreed, it transpired, on the winning story ‘Ger Sheen and the Stanists’ with its robust and distinctive voice. Further discussion and rereading was necessary in order to pair up our 2ndand 3rd prize choices but with our focus directed still at original voices and unforeseen outcomes we chose the dazzling ‘Trout Quintet’ for its power to unsettle and also adept toying with time, and the brilliant ‘Clay Baby’ for its daring idiosyncrasy. My highly commended story ‘The Present’, I chose for its uncompromising and visceral subject matter, and use of dialect which struck me as highly authentic, as well as its ability to conjure a small claustrophobic world in so few words.

Poetry Category

Judge: Adam Horovitz

1st Prize (£500):

2nd Prize (£200):

Stephen Devereux, The Last of England (UK)

3rd Prize (£100):

Bethany W Pope, Wild Thorn (UK)

Highly Commended (£25):

Katrina Naomi, if they came for us (UK)


Lesley Saunders, You Bring Out the Bourgeois in Me (UK)
Virginia Astley, Things You Have Slaughtered (UK)
Stephen Devereux, Tower Block (UK)
Lacey Kirchmeier, Point (Iowa, USA)
Paul Stephenson, Midday at the Java Cafe (Spain)
Aki Schilz, One last goodbye to start (UK)

Judges Report

Having co-judged the Manchester Poetry Prize last autumn, I found myself missing fellow judges when it came to judging the Bare Fiction poetry prize. It’s so much less daunting to have people to argue, and to come to a consensus, with than it is to be the sole judge in the room when an array of fine poems are scattered on one’s desk, all demanding to be read, and read again. Just before Christmas I arrived at a (very) long list of nearly 100 poems that deserved rereading and reading aloud and weighing up and coming back to at just gone bedtime to reappraise them (in one startling moment I found myself reading a poem about a sculpture of Eve at Autun cathedral, then looking up and realising I have a photo of the exact same sculpture on my wall). Christmas was a welcome interruption from the intensity of it all, I must admit; I ran away to family and let the poems fight it out amongst themselves for a few days.

In the clearer light of a new year, I managed to find a shortlist I loved and, as I read all the poems aloud to myself, I discovered just how much I delighted in if they came for us and its epic take on nature’s revenge; and in the dense, movingly strange and immaculately crafted Wild Thorn.

The Last of England brought me up short; the poet had three poems in my long list (and indeed one on the shortlist too) but here, the verses swelled and chopped like waves, in perfect harmony with the subject matter, building up, pausing and then coming back stronger, carrying an elegiac languor in its surf of images.

In the end, though, Let’s send our lovers into orbit had to win. I kept coming back to its layered analysis of love and lovers, and how we consider them, coming back and smiling, wanting to read it aloud and taste the gentle wryness of it, imagining that it was Donne’s lovers in The Sun Rising who had been cast out into space. And any poem that conjures up Donne for me, and yet still holds it own in such dazzling company, is, I think, worthy of accolades.

Adam Horovitz

Flash Fiction Category

Judge: Angela Readman

1st Prize (£500):

2nd Prize (£200):

3rd Prize (£100):

Christopher North, At 10.59.59 (Spain)

Highly Commended (£25):

Annabel Mackenzie, Half a Smile (UK)


Jo Gatford, And There (UK)
Nina Rapi, The Tablecloth (Greece)
Catherine Edmunds, The Leaf (UK)
Elly Parsons, A Haibun: Paperweight (UK)
Emma Purshouse, Summat Extra (UK)
Eleanor Hooker, Sage (Ireland)

Judges Report

The standard of submissions was so impressive I had to read many of the entries a few times. I felt many stories that didn’t quite make the shortlist are good enough to be accepted by anthologies and journals as they are. Not surprisingly, I saw certain subjects over and over again, but the ones that made the shortlist stood out in their approach. The stories range from realist stories to the surreal, some are poetic, others are matter of fact. The only thing the work has in common is the ability to hold the reader in a story that feels like it couldn’t be written in any other way. The top ten stories all made me want to go back and read them again for different reasons. I fell in love with the classic feeling of Half a Smile, but the microscopic focus of 10.59.59 blew me away. It felt as if that one second is full of stories, if we look.

I am the Painter’s Daughter also deserved to be placed. There were several stories about loss, but none with such a sense of place and significant detail. The same writer managed to get 3 stories in my top 31, there was a quality to the work.

Ultimately, Count the Words, Hold Your Breath was my winner because it lingered for days after I read it. I couldn’t stop thinking back to it. The language unfolds concertina style, I found myself being dragged back and forth in the story, holding a breath, counting the loves, just like the narrator. I loved the second wave of involvement that comes to the reader once we discover the meanings of some of the words. I didn’t feel I would ever get bored reading the story—it is simply a joy. It is flash fiction that feels like a discovery. It had to win.

Angela Readman