2021

The Laura Kinsella Fellowship 2021 is awarded to Harminder Kaur. After studying creative writing at UEA as part of her degree in Literature and Film, and an MA in Literature at Sussex, Harminder’s life was interrupted by the onset of schizophrenia while she was studying for a PhD in Cultural Theory at Hull. She is currently writing a work of literary fiction called Psychotic Episodes, which is made up of a series of linked stories about mental illness, race and faith.

It was judged by Kerry Hudson and Eva Verde with NCW Communications Manager Stephanie McKenna.

Of Kaur’s work, Kerry Hudson said:

‘We felt Harminder’s work showed enormous presence. She’s a writer of power and honesty and the piece both moved and provoked thoughts in equal measure. We can’t wait to see what Harminder will do with this opportunity, and we feel very grateful that we got to read her work.’

Harminder Kaur was born in the UK to Indian parents. Her mother worked in a factory and was a cleaner. Her father was a primary school teacher in an inner city school in Coventry. Harminder studied creative writing at UEA as part of her degree in Literature and Film. After an MA in Literature at Sussex, Harminder has done a wide variety of jobs, including drug and alcohol worker, chef and kitchen manager, lecturer, live-in carer, and researcher.

Harminder’s life was interrupted by the onset of schizophrenia while she was studying for a PhD in Cultural Theory at Hull. One of the positive aspects of her illness was that it was a spiritual experience which led to her to becoming a Christian. She is currently writing a work of literary fiction called Psychotic Episodes, which is made up of a series of linked stories about mental illness, race and faith.

In 2020 she was longlisted for the Penguin WriteNow programme, and was offered a free place on a Professional Writing Academy Course by New Writing North. In 2021 she was awarded a place on ‘A Brief Pause’, a six-month development programme organised by Dahlia Press for women working on short fiction.

Shortlist

Maritsa Baksh

Harminder Kaur

Annie Walmsley

Commended

Simone Noakes, Zahirra Dayal, Dr Peter Whittick, Maxine Davies, Alice Mason, April Yee, Okala Elesia


2020

The winner of the inaugural Laura Kinsella Fellowship is Michelle Perkins. Perkins originally trained as a nurse and was the first person in her family to go to university when she studied at Goldsmiths in the 90s. After experiencing some major life challenges, she rediscovered writing as a means to make sense of her difficult family history.

Of Perkins’ work, judge Roopa Farooki said:

‘There is a poetic pragmatism that is the writer’s own, and I feel there is great potential for this writer to be a bold and brilliant voice.’

Michelle Perkins

Born in the UK, Michelle left home at eighteen to train as a nurse in London. She began writing during an undergraduate degree in Fine Art, at Goldsmith’s in the 1990s. Working in nursing and on community arts projects, and later as a gardener following a move to Somerset; writing was often little more than journal entries and notes. However, in 2015, after three years of personal upheaval, and a year spent working on an Italian farm; she returned to the west country to begin again, this time with writing as her focus.

Shortlist

Salli Hansell
K Patrick

Longlist

Tabitha Bast, Maria Hummer, Sumaya Kassim, Lauren Pinnington, Louise Marie Powell, Zoë Ranson, Sally Shaw, Shereen Tadros, Imolé Thomas, Lauren Van Schaik

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