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“First question.” With that, the quiz and open mic night that marked the launch event of The Literary Lancashire Awards in 2020 were underway. The County Diner was buzzing with conversations spanning a variety of topics. All ceased, however, as the introduction to the launch event was given.
The LLA is a creating writing competition including both prose and poetry entries, meaning that there are plenty of ways to express your creative ideas in 40 lines or 2000 words respectively. Although the launch event was on the University campus, the competition is not merely university focussed, meaning that it can reach much further: it’s currently open to all 16-30-year olds across Lancashire. The scale of the competition is in part because writing is a difficult profession to get into, so the prizes themselves come with varying degrees of recognition. If you win, your piece is published in an edition of SCAN and will be part of an anthology of the shortlisted entries, as well as £50 in prize money. Even if you don’t win, the shortlisted works are published in an anthology, highlighting the Award’s aim of increased publicity and recognition.
Some of those present had written for the competition previously and were able to read from the current anthology. These entries were all published in the LLA anthology, and it was easy to see why. If anything made me want to go and pick up a pen and put something down on paper, it was listening to those speakers.
But before that, there was a quiz. Each round (after the obligatory general knowledge round to start everyone off) was themed around one of the categories for the competition: one based off the Elizabeth Gaskell quote: “but the future must be met, however stern or iron it must be,” one dealing with the category Lost and Found, another involving Under the Influence, and two last ones including Witch Hunt and The Machine. Another category of the competition is The Mysterious Stranger, though not alluded to in the quiz, and finally a quote from Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “what comes from the heart goes to the heart.” These categories are broad enough to spark any writer’s imagination, again staying true to the competition’s aim of creating an interest in creative writing for young people.
There has been a lot of publicity around this year’s Literary Lancashire Awards; there have been talks in all undergraduate English and Creative Writing lectures, as well as the social media platforms used to promote both the launch event itself and the competition. This year the LLA has conquered the airwaves for the second year in a row: two members of the LLA team went on the local radio (BBC Lancashire) on the 23rd January to promote the competition.
Entries are due in on 19th March, so there’s plenty of time to get involved – hopefully many of you who read this will be in next year’s anthology!