• John Dempster

Prize Writing Competition: award ceremony


The winners of HighlandLIT’s 2021 Writing Competition read and received their prizes at a hybrid Book Week Scotland event last night held both at the Glen Mhor Hotel and on Zoom. We had a lovely evening – about 18 people attended in person, and 15 on Zoom.


Entrants had been asked to write up to 500 words of prose or 20 lines of poetry on the Book Week Scotland 2021 theme of ‘Celebration’.


The awards were made by Strathpeffer-based storyteller, songwriter and musician Bob Pegg who chose the winning entries and the highly commended pieces after an initial sifting by the HighlandLIT Committee. Prizes comprised cash, books, and book tokens.


Bob Pegg said of picking put the winners: ‘I was looking for whatever made a story or poem come alive, whatever seemed fresh, intriguing, unexpected, side-stepping convention.’


Entrants come from across the Highlands. In the prose section, first prize went to Meg MacLeod, second to Brenda Lawrence, and third to Georgina O’Brien. Highly commended were Stewart Struthers and Rhiannon Stradling.


The winners read their prizes, either in person or on-line.


In the poetry sections, first prize went to Lynn Valentine, second to Lilias Noble, and third to Meg MMacLeod. Highly commended were Jayne Austin and Tim Williams.


You can read the winning entries which have been published on the HighlandLIT website.


Bob Pegg’s presentation was brilliant: before the award ceremony he spoke about his own encounters with poetry and music as a child and young man (from the day he wowed the audience age four at a Methodist Sunday School event and knew that he was born to be an entertainer.) He read some poems which influenced him, including Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s A Musical Instrument about the god Pan crafting pan-pipes.


He spoke about his own interest in unusual music instruments – and in the second half, he expertly played a selection, including producing rhythm and tone from two ribbed shells, and gave a fantastic demonstration of the ‘trump’ (or Jew’s Harp) , which, it’s been said ‘depends entirely on the vocal tracts of the performer to produce music.’ In the second half also Bob told us some traditional stories with the consummate skill of a seasoned storyteller. That four-year-old kid clearly saw his destiny!


HighlandLIT Chair Mark Williams said: ‘The evening was indeed a celebration of the works of so many talented writers living in our area, covering a wide range of interpretations of the theme, but all demonstrating our collective resilience under the adversity that the pandemic has brought to us all but which has not dampened our spirit. We wish to thank all who entered for their contributions, and Bob Pegg for so ably judging and hosting the event.’


There were some problems with the wifi connection during the event, for which we apologise – I think the wifi at the room we were using was less robust than at our normal venue in the main building.


If you attended the event, whether in person or on-line, please record your impressions of it here.

Photos: Above - Bob Pegg with the two winners who read at the event - left, Lillias Noble (the 2nd prize winner in the poetry category) and right, Gina O'Brien (The 3rd prize winner in the prose category. Below - Bob Pegg with HighlandLIT Chair Mark Williams and a shot of Bob in action in the course of the evening.





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