2023 Awards

New Welsh Writing Awards 2023: Rheidol Prize for Prose with a Welsh Theme or Setting

Closing date: 16th March 2023 ENTER HERE

CALL FOR ENTRIES! By judge Gwen Davies

This is my ninth year judging these Awards, for which I am sole judge this year. We are now open for entry and will award a prize of £1,000 to the winner. Our category this year is the Rheidol Prize for Prose with a Welsh Theme or Setting and I’d like to acknowledge the kind support of our long-term subscriber Richard Powell in order to run this writer development initiative.

The Awards champion short unpublished books (between 5,000 and 30,000 words) in English. Entries this year may vary across the categories, from short form Welsh-themed- or set-nonfiction (e.g. essay collections or books in nonfiction form from history, politics, satire, memoir through travel, nature or comedy writing) to a novella set in Wales or with a Welsh theme. For both fiction and nonfiction entries, I would particularly welcome responses to history, for example (in fiction) imaginative responses to or indeed re-imaginings of historical events, including protest, or (in nonfiction), analysis of how such pivotal moments of resistance and change relate to Wales today. I would also be delighted to receive manuscripts inspired by the inanimate world, for example objects, artefacts or place.

Entry requirements can be found on the terms and conditions page and will be charged at £12 per entry; we have a limited number of free entry passes for writers on a low income. The Awards are open to both new and established writers in the UK and Ireland, as well as writers resident anywhere in the world if they have been educated in Wales for a minimum of six months. Entries close at 23:59 on Thursday 16 March 2023. Submitted work must be unpublished in any form before and throughout the entry procedure.

Entries via this page by the closing date, Thursday 16 March 2023.

The brief for this category nurtures a closer focus on homegrown subjects and settings (while of course these may wander into the ‘foreign country’ of the past as well as setting the past into dialogue with the present and future). We are once again promoting both nonfiction and the short story (as well as our everlasting favourite, the novella). The shorter length, just shy of book-length and perfect for the Kindle single format, will be once again embraced, as we continue to celebrate concision but throw our doors open to a vast range of writing forms and experiences.

This year’s competition follows successful prizes in previous years, which resulted in the publication of books including Jasmine Donahaye’s Birdsplaining: A Natural History (‘an absolute kingfisher of a book’, Mike Parker, publication date: 26 January 2023), Peter Goulding’s Slatehead: The Ascent of Britain’s Slate-climbing Scene (Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature shortlist, 2020); Eluned Gramich’s Woman Who Brings the Rain (Wales Book of the Year shortlist, 2016); Bush Meat by Mandy Sutter (‘Triumphs, in its lean prose… humour… [and] evocation of a family divided by sexism and racism in 1960s Nigeria. Stitches together the threads of memory to create a moving tapestry of lost life, building bridges of understanding across time and place.’ Rory MacLean), Cath Barton’s The Plankton Collector, a magical haunting tale of family healing that Mavis Cheek found she ‘couldn’t put… down’, the poignant and rigorous memoir on anorexia, My Oxford, by Catherine Haines and Ed Garland’s genre-busting nonfiction debut, Earwitness: A Search for Sonic Understanding in Stories.

I am the sole judge for the 2023 competition for a Welsh-set or themed- novella or nonfiction book (my credits as literary translator include The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis, Honno, 2019, and Martha, Jack and Shanco, also by Caryl Lewis, Parthian, 2007, as well as short fiction by Mihangel Morgan and William Owen Roberts). I cross borders as a literary translator and as editor of New Welsh Review, bringing authors and artists from all corners of the world and their professions into creative exchange here in Wales. Since economy and precision are what journals are all about, it seems right that these awards, for unpublished books up to 30,000 words, endorse the shorter publication formats which the digital age has made possible. I’m certain that this competition will unveil a host of talent we can add to the stable of writers that have already found a home in our pages. As well as seeking novellas, we are open to considering a selection of short stories up to the maximum word length (and nonfiction, as noted above).

The winner will receive £1,000 in cash as an advance for an e-book deal published by New Welsh Review under the New Welsh Rarebyte imprint. Leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown will also give the winner a positive critique of their submission.

The prize for second place is a four-night stay at Literature Wales’ Nant Writers’ Retreat Cottage, located within the grounds of Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd within the grounds of the beautiful former home of Lloyd George.

Third prize for the runner-up is a two-night stay at Gladstone’s residential library in Flintshire, north Wales, another gorgeous peaceful venue, also connected with a former Liberal Prime Minister, and voted ‘Top Wellbeing Retreat’ by Guardian readers in 2015.

Each prizewinner will also receive a one-year subscription to New Welsh Review. In addition, the six entries ranking highest in the competition will be considered for publication in our creative print magazine, New Welsh Reader, with our standard fee. Once again this year, one nominated entry, by a writer between 18 and 25 years of age, will also be considered for publication by New Welsh Review, either online or in our print edition.

The shortlist will be announced online on 3 May 2023. The winner will be announced on Friday 27 May 2023.

Since part of the prize is book publication, longer pieces will inevitably make more satisfying books, and this should be taken into account by entrants.

If you want to write to write a short collection of stories with the power of Eley Williams’ ‘To Plot, Plan, Redress’ (reimagining the Rebecca Riots) or Anna Lewis’ ‘Before Dawn’ (reimagining the Merthyr Rising), a nonfiction title with a Welsh theme such as Richard Gwyn’s The Vagabond’s Breakfast, or a novella with a Welsh setting, such as Lloyd Markham’s weird and wonderful Bad Ideas\Chemicals, I want to hear from you.

Best of luck!


About Judge Gwen Davies:

Gwen Davies has been editor of New Welsh Review since 2011. She has worked as creative editor at publishers including Parthian, and founded the imprints Alcemi and New Welsh Rarebyte. As a literary translator her titles include Robin Llywelyn’s White Star (Seren Wen) and two of bestseller Caryl Lewis’ novels, Martha, Jack & Shanco (Martha, Jac a Sianco, Parthian, 2007) and The Jeweller (Y Gemydd, Honno, 2019). She has also been a Literature Officer at the Arts Council of Wales, a member and Chair of Literature Wales’ Writers’ Bursaries Panel for seven years, represented literature for the Arts Council of Wales’ Creative Wales Awards and has been a writers’ mentor, both privately and for Literature Wales. She has been co-judge for the New Welsh Writing Awards since its inauguration in 2015. She grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire and now lives in Aberystwyth with her family. Gwen is acting as sole judge of the Rheidol Prize for Prose with a Welsh Theme or Setting in 2023.