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Jun 15, 2021

featured among celebrations of Five Years of the Life Writing Prize

Lorelei Goulding

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Now celebrating it’s 5th Year,  the 2020 Winner of the Life Writing Prize was Lorelei Goulding for her story Birdie. Lorelei won £1500, an Arvon course, a writing mentor, 2 years membership to the Royal Society of Literature and development meetings with an agent and an editor.

Lorelei is originally from Long Island, New York and lives in rural Somerset with her husband, three children, and very unruly dog. She is currently completing an MSc in Public Health at UWE Bristol and is particularly interested in Adverse Childhood Experiences and how they impact health over the life-course.

The Life Writing Prize was founded in 2016 following a serendipitous encounter between Spread the Word’s Laura Kenwright and Prize funder Joanna Munro at Goldsmiths, University of London. The pair discussed how there was a dynamic fiction and poetry prize-scene in the UK, but nowhere near as much to celebrate and profile new writers of creative non-fiction, and those who write about and from their own lives. Spread the Word and Joanna made a plan to launch a new Prize solely for life writing and focused on work by unagented and unpublished writers. Blake Morrison came on board as the Prize’s Patron of with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre partnering to support outreach to across the UK. Since then, year on year, the Prize has grown in strength and stature – receiving nearly 4,000 entries from across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, supporting 60 writers who have reached the longlisting stage, several of whom have gone on to be agented and published, and perhaps most importantly helped establish life writing as a diverse and thriving creative art form.

Life Writing Prize 2020 judges Kerry Hudson, Nell Stevens and Sathnam Sanghera selected Lorelei Goulding’s Birdie as the winning piece. Candid, powerful and moving, Birdie deftly balances humour with pain, to tell a story of a young vulnerable girl and her emerging voice. Indeed, its final lines reverberate on impact, emphasising how words can give us agency and strength. Nell Stevens commented that Lorelei “writes like someone we should have been reading all our lives”, and Sathnam Sanghera said: “Beautiful, spare, poetical writing…it’s hard to believe this writer is just starting out.” Kerry Hudson echoes: “it is a narrative that pulls you in slowly and then hits you with a sucker punch and leaves you gasping for air at the end. Such accomplished writing and surely the beginning of an exciting career.”

Spread the Word’s Laura Kenwright interviewed Lorelei during lockdown in May 2020, which you can see here. Lorelei reads a short, fantastic excerpt from her winning piece.

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