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Winners Announced for the William Soutar Prize

The winners for this year’s William Soutar Writing Prize have been announced by Culture Perth.

Ahmed Yassen is the winner for the under 17’s category and Ross Mackay won the over 18’s category.

Judge Asif Khan, Director of Scottish Poetry Library, said: “Poetry has been a source of both creative expression and solace during lockdown. It takes courage to write and video record a performance in one’s own home, so I take my bonnet off to all the entrants.”

This year’s theme was ‘lockdown insights’, asking entrants to submit a 90 second of themselves reading their poem, story or spoken performance.

Under 17’s winner Ahmed Yassen’s submission, ‘When Corona virus started’, tells the story of his experience in an upbeat, rhythmic, beat.

Ross MacKay’s ‘We Called Him Noah’ won the over eighteens category, comparing his lockdown experience to sailing through the treacherous flood in the story of Noah.

Asif Khan celebrated added: “I was impressed by Ahmed’s turn of phrase and lyricism. Ross applied a wonderful blend of fable and nautical imagery, which was reminiscent of a devotional chaplet for this extraordinary moment in our life and time.”

Culture Perth’s Reading Development Officer, Jan Hay, said: “We would like to thank all those who entered this year and the public who voted.

“We were thrilled with the imagination and thoughtfulness demonstrated by our entrants this year and look forward to seeing more of their work in the future.”

For winning the under 17s category, Ahmed Yassen will receive a hamper of books and stationery which Culture Perth says is, ‘to support them develop their creative writing skills.’

With his prize,  once restrictions relax, Ross MacKay will be able to spend a stay at the Scotland’s national creative writing centre, Moniack Mhor.

Winning the over 18’s prize, Ross Mackay said: “This is such brilliant news.  I read William Soutar’s poetry at school, having come from Perth myself and I feel privileged to have won an award in his name.

“I want to thank everyone who voted for me to make the shortlist and to Asif Khan, the judge. This is the first poetry competition I have ever entered so I am delighted to have won. The other entries were fantastic and very inspiring, so I would encourage anyone who has seen my poem to check out their work too.”

The organiser of the competition within Culture Perth and Kinross, Jordan Irvine, said: “We understand the challenges that Covid-19 and the circumstances of 2020 have brought to many writers and authors and are delighted we can celebrate and share some of the exceptional writing talents in this country through the competition.

“We were thrilled with the imagination and thoughtfulness demonstrated by many of the entrants and look forward to seeing more of their work in the future”.

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