A Gold Creative Future For Our Own Jade Cuttle!
When someone from the Write Out Loud editorial team wins an award, please forgive us, but we like to make a little bit of a fuss about it! Well this time it is Jade Cuttle, our very own Contributing Editor, who has won the Gold Award at this year's Creative Future Awards, judged by a panel including Lemm Sissay who also presented Jade with her prize. Congratulations Jade, and thanks for sharing your story with us in this quick interview about the experience:
Jade, why did you decide to enter this particular competition among the sea of possible options? Do you enter your work into a lot of these sort of things?
I’ve had a little success entering poetry competitions such as the BBC Proms Poetry Competition but I’m completely new to the world of story-writing – I just thought it would be fun to have a go! It’s actually the first time I’ve managed to write anything longer than a song, which made it an even greater surprise when I heard I’d won Gold.
I was interested in Creative Future because they work to support their writers in the long-term, beyond the short-term buzz of the prize-giving ceremony, by offering professional development prizes that help people take their writing career to the next level. For example, as the winner of the Gold Award for Prose, I’ve kindly been offered a place on an intense writing course with Penguin Random House Writers’ and a professional manuscript assessment via The Literary Consultancy, as well as £150. I’m really excited to start the course and feeling very grateful to all the judges!
Creative Future looks at both prose and poetry, you write both, do you have a preference? Does this win for your prose writing rather than poetry affect your immediate future choices in any way?
Winning this prize has definitely encouraged me to probe my curiosity for story-writing further. I started working on a second story soon after I heard the news and its equally surreal – about being covered in moss. I’ve also just completed an ecological apocalypse re-write of The Little Mermaid, so I’m definitely writing more stories than before. Whatever form my writing takes though, songs or stories, poems or plays, it always seems to explore how our human world weaves into the natural one with chaos at the core, which is timely, I guess, what with climate change hazing up the horizon...
Can you tell us a little bit about your winning entry, Hearts for Sale?
The story is set in a supermarket that sells human hearts. With hearts being produced on an industrial scale, factories churning out bulbous cheeks of beating tissue faster than you can blink, the story comments on capitalism, materialism and mass-production with a cynical somewhat comical tone. There’s a store attendant that fluffs up the hearts with an old rag before the customers arrive, smoothing out the flaws to make them shine. A missed-dose of nutrient solution leads to a mop up on aisle six, but for the most part they’re just objects of desire, stocked behind the glass quietly sucking at the silt of dreams. It’s also a comment on greed and bad romance as one customer comes in and orders far more hearts than they need.
The showcase day and Awards Ceremony looked great fun in the pictures, how was it? What was Lemm Sissay like?
I still can’t believe that Lemn Sissay picked my story! He’s such an inspiring character, also really kind and his jokes were absolutely hilarious. It was great to chat with the other judges too, Kerry Hudson and Ali Lewis from The Poetry School, and I loved hearing all the other winning entries – it was a very inspiring evening.
You have lived in different parts of the world but have just settled back in the UK. Is the poetry scene more vibrant and accessible here than in other countries, in your experience?
I've lived in Paris for a few years and whilst I loved the contemporary art scene over there, the poetry scene was what I missed the most. That’s the reason I came back to the UK. I've just started an MA in Poetry at the University of East Anglia, and not only is the course inspiring, but the sense of community is incredible when it comes to the poetry scene.
Photo: Brant Adam of People Staring