Wigtown Poetry Prizes 2024 Judges

15 April 2024
Wigtown poetry prize logo featuring category titles;  International, Gaelic. Scots. Alastair Reid Pamphlet prize and Dumfries and Galloway Fresh Voice Award.

The judges have been revealed for Wigtown Poetry Prizes 2024

Wigtown Poetry Prizes date back to 2005 and celebrate Scotland’s three indigenous languages – English, Gaelic and Scots. The awards have grown into a renowned contribution to the world of poetry, attracting hundreds of high-quality entries from Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North and South America.

A new judging panel is selected each year consisting of respected poets and language experts with a deep love and understanding of their field.

Headshot of Gerda Stevenson, Judge of Wigtown International Poetry Prize and the Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize.

Gerda Stevenson

Judge of Wigtown International Poetry Prize and the Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize

Gerda is an award-winning writer, actor, director, and singer-songwriter working in theatre, TV, opera, radio and film. She has appeared at literary festivals throughout the UK and across Europe.

Her play, Federer Versus Murray, toured to New York, sponsored by the Scottish Government, and her first two poetry collections, If This Were Real, and Quines: Poems in Tribute to Women of Scotland, have also been published in Rome in Italian translations. Her most recent publications are a book of short stories, Letting Go: a Timeline of Tales, and a third poetry collection, Tomorrow’s Feast.

The founder of Scotland’s leading women’s theatre company STELLAR QUINES, she has directed and appeared in many theatre productions and films, including Braveheart and won a BAFTA for her performance in Margaret Tait’s feature film Blue Black Permanent.

Gerda said: “I'm honoured to be invited to judge the Wigtown International Poetry Prize. Poetry can reveal itself in many ways, and, perhaps because I work across various art forms, my taste in poetry is fairly wide.

“I think a good poem should be a revelation, the powerful distillation of an experience, or an idea. Here are two definitions of poetry that I like: 'Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.' (T.S. Eliot). 'Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.' (Carl Sandburg).

“As a musician, I appreciate poetry which pays careful attention to sound as well as meaning. I look forward to reading the submissions.”

Headshot  of Ann Mackinnon, Judge of Wigtown Scots Poetry Prize.

Ann MacKinnon

Judge of Wigtown Scots Poetry Prize
Supported by the Saltire Society

Ann writes poetry in both Scots and English and is widely published in anthologies and magazines. In 2014 a New Scottish Writers’ Award for writing in Scots, enabled her to complete a pamphlet called ‘Nae Flooers’, published by Tapsalteerie which was shortlisted for the Calum MacDonald Prize.

She has been placed in the McCash Poetry Competition several times. The anthology Modren Makars: Yin was published by Tapsalteerie in 2022. All three writers featured in it write in Scots.

In 2022 she was nominated for Scots Language Writer of the Year in the Scots Language Awards. Her latest pamphlet, ‘Warp and Weft’, was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2023.

Ann said: “I would like to see Scots being used to deal with serious and unusual subjects. I hope to hear the rhythm and cadences of the language and would prefer concrete images rather than abstractions.”

Headshot  of Peter Mackay, Judge of Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize.

Pàdraig MacAoidh
Peter Mackay

Judge of Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize
Supported by The Gaelic Books Council

’S ann à Leòdhas a tha Pàdraig, agus chaidh dà leabhar bàrdachd leis fhoillseachadh le Acair: Gu Leòr (2015) agus Nàdur De (2020). Tha e a’ fuireach ann an Dun Èideann.

Peter is a poet, translator, broadcaster and lecturer. He has two collections with Acair, Galore (2015) and Some Kind of (2020). Originally from the Isle of Lewis, he lives in Edinburgh and works in the School of English at the University of St Andrews.

Thuirt Pàdraig: “Tha mi a’ coimhead air adhart gu mòr ri leughadh dè thigeas a-steach airson farpais bàrdachd Baile na h-Ùige am bliadhna-sa. Gu h-àraidh tha mi a’ sireadh dàn a bhios a’ toirt sùil air an t-saoghal ann an dòighean inntinneach, le mac-meanma, liut agus pongalachd – agus’s dòcha beagan spòrs.”

Peter said: “I'm really looking forward to reading the poems entered for this year's Wigtown Poetry Prizes Gaelic prize. In particular, I'm hoping for poems that look at the world in interesting ways, with imagination, wit and precision - and maybe a little fun.”

Headshot  of Liz Niven, Judge of Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award.

Liz Niven

Judge of Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award
Supported by Moniack Mhor

Liz is a widely published poet. Her collections include: Stravaigin, Burning Whins, The Shard Box (Canongate & Luath Press, Edinburgh). Her public art collaborations include text in stone and wood.

The author of Scots Dossier for European Bureau of Minority Languages (Mercator), she has edited a wide range of literature including New Writing Scotland (ASLS) and education resources for poetry and Scots language. Awards include McCash poetry prize, Saltire/TESS.

She is an honorary fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies and convener of Scottish PEN’s Writers-in-exile committee.

Liz said: “I’m delighted to be invited to judge Wigtown’s Fresh Voice Award. I’m looking for poetry with exciting and engaging content, confident and concise form, delivered in a strong original voice.”

Each prize will be presented at an award ceremony at Wigtown Book Festival 2024, which takes place 27 September - 6 October.