And the 26 awards go to…

Thanks to everyone who joined us on Zoom on 6th December for a combined celebration of 26’s 20th birthday, and our annual awards. In case you missed it, here’s a round-up of the worthy winners and some reflections from our judges.

First up, the Emerging Writer award.

Judging this year’s entries has been SO hard. All of them were filled with creativity – some made me reflect and pause, some reminded me of my own journey (I started copywriting at 17 and entered the 26 Emerging Writer Award in 2022 and won) and some were super inspirational. Obviously, myself and Lloyd (Harry-Davis, highly commended in 2022) had to narrow it down to the top three (which was difficult to do, trust me) but our final decisions were…”
– Carolyn McMurray

Highly commended:

Ben “BJ” Jennings (https://www.linkedin.com/in/beejaycopy/)

“Ben is actually a member of Word Tonic – the copywriting community and online learning platform I co-created for GEN-Z copywirters – but I didn’t know too much about him till he entered this award. He’s super witty, sharp, and comedic – a skill that’s often hard to master as a copywriter. Ben’s open to work and looking for freelance gigs, so if you’re looking for someone who’s an amazingly talented, GEN-Z copywriter hit him up.” – Carolyn

“BJ’s confidence, especially for someone fresh out of uni, was captivating: his writing is full of unbridled wit. I was impressed by his ability to think conceptually and inject humour into his stories, which went a long way to connecting with the reader. It’s also a sign of earnest, down-to-earth writing — plus his ability to strike a balance between making people laugh and getting across a message was skilful.” – Lloyd 

Jess Murphy (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jess-murphy-7514321b7/)

“Jessica’s entry was SO creative. What really stood out to me was her ‘What you Aut To Know,’ submission, which gave us an insight into her personal life as a copywriter through the lens of someone with autism. Her portfolio also backed it up and was filled with super creative examples from big brands like TESCO.” – Carolyn

“Jess’ work was refreshing, not only because of the content of her writing but because of her creative approach to projects. I really enjoyed her What You Aut to Know piece about her Autism diagnosis, and thought it was both instructive and entertaining. But it was her This Book Belongs To project that highlighted her as a highly commended writer for me; she shows that she’s able to think about things and look at the world in unexpected, non-lateral ways, thus bringing about really interesting writing as a result.” – Lloyd

The winner: 

Ann Storr (https://www.linkedin.com/in/annstorr/)

“When people think of ’emerging writer,’ they usually think fresh out of school – which IS amazing, but Ann’s story was a bit different. She’d made a career change in her 40s and had only started copywriting in 2020, during a full-on pandemic. It was this – coupled with her excellent portfolio and submission – that made her the winner.” – Carolyn 

“Ann is a born storyteller. Her writing was incredibly vulnerable, honest and versatile, with a flow that sounds natural and approachable. I thought her brand copy demonstrated the right kind of versatility needed to help businesses really connect with their audiences in authentic ways, and that also comes across in her creative non-fiction. Ann’s work stood out because her writing suggested someone who has not only become sure and confident within their vulnerability, but who has spent a long time refining their voice. The result is writing that moves you and makes you pay attention.” – Lloyd

And we can’t forget the 26 project awards.

Here’s what judge and previous winner Galen O’Hanlon had to say:

“There was an incredibly high standard across the four projects: 26 Places in Cornwall, Fine Cell Work 25th Anniversary, 26 Inspirations and 26 Orphans. 

Our criteria

  • Impact: writing that stays with you long after you’ve put the piece down.
  • A compelling idea/theme that is carried through the writing.
  • Clear narrative voice, giving you the sense of the writer as well as the subject.
  • Creativity and originality: the writer has found a way within the project constraints to be original or creative (with form, or idea, or style).

How to decide? ‘It’s IMPOSSIBLE!’ we said

Nevertheless, we coalesced around a few pieces, and had a really engaged and deep discussion about them. 

Highly Commended

  • Tim Rich, Landfall (26 Inspirations) – for its beautiful image of upturned hulls on a beach, scored and scoured by life. 
  • Rishi Dastidar, ‘A twitch on the thread pulls us forward’ for Fine Cell Work’s 25th anniversary book – the form and rhythm of it, the way it’s threaded together, the villanelle form reflecting the work of fine cell work. Repetition and hope. 
  • Lisa Andrews, Metamorphosis (26 Inspirations). We loved for its form and grace, its focus on the iridescent beauty of insects, and its link to inspirations in ceramics as metamorphosis. Also the sparkling jewel of a new word – glost – in the centre of the poem. 

The winner 

Jane Berney, Estina Mavet (26 Orphans) 

We loved it for its claustrophobic portrayal of life in an asylum, of madness and fear and the terrifying gaze of the nurse. The arresting opening image of the heron on a frog – wow. And the way the poem sharpens to a point, like the poem is getting into a cupboard too. And to create such a rich, full world in just 62 words is quite a feat.”

Ann and Jane will each receive a one-of-a-kind letterpress chase trophy made by Phil Cleaver, and our highly commended writers will receive beautiful letterpress prints, as pictured below. 

Thank you to everyone who made our awards happen this year – from Quietroom and Storytime for supporting the awards, to our judges who took the time to deliberate every entry, and the extremely talented writers who shared their work with us. 

What a way to end the year!

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