FRESHERS ISSUE 2023 SCAN Lancaster University

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SCANLU SCANLancaster scan.lancastersu.co.uk

Arts & Culture


Naomi Onakunle

& Amy Dixon

Lancaster MA Student Wins Northern

Writers Award for Poetry

Maria Hill


In June 2023, Lancaster

University’s MA graduate Liam

Bates was awarded the Northern

Writers Award in Poetry winning

a cash prize of between £2000

and £3000 pounds to finance his


The Northern Writers Award is a prize

organized by New Writing North,

an organization funded by the Arts

Council England since 1996. Its aim

is to identify and support the work of

writers from across society, and the

prize is focused on supporting writers

in the North of England.

This year, Lancaster University’s MA

graduate Liam Bates was awarded

the Northern Writers Award for

Poetry, winning a hefty cash prize and

gaining recognition for his craft.

Whereas entering

into most prizes

and competitions

in literature require

entry fees, the

Northern Writers

Award provides

free entry, allowing

a range of people

from all financial

backgrounds to


Other awards included in the

Northern Writing Awards involve

awards for children’s novels, fiction,

memoir, short fiction, and more,

which can all be found on New

Writing North’s website.

The organization also offers other

prizes, such as The Golden Burn Prize

for daring novels, and The David

Cohen Prize for Literature, which is

an award based on a writer’s whole


In an exclusive interview, I asked

him what the process of applying

for the award was like. “It was

pretty painless, as these things go,”

he said. “Free, importantly.”

As for Liam Bates,

he is an inspiration

to young writers

studying at

Lancaster University.

His work has

appeared in a range

of magazines such

as Ambit, Abridged,

and Bath Magg just

to name a few.

Alongside this long list of

publications, previous to winning the

Northern Writers Award, he has been

commended or shortlisted for a range

of other competitions such as Magma,

Bridport Prize and Creative Future,

and was even longlisted for the elusive

National poetry Competition in 2022.

Last year, he

released his fulllength

debut, Human

Townsperson, of

which I was lucky

enough to attend

the release of during

a launch and open

mic event at The

Gregson Center last


Hearing Liam read out the poems

from his debut was a wonderful

experience. The collection is a

thoughtfully crafted series of poems

which explores the links between real

life and video games, with life events

reflecting quests, with vivid imagery

and a touch of humor.

Liam has also

had two poetry


Working Animals

and Monomaniac,

published, and all

three collections

are available with

Broken Sleep Books.

As a creative writing student myself, I

had a range of questions to ask Liam

about his success within the world of

writing competitions.

In an earlier interview with him which

can be found on SCAN’s website, he

gave a range of insight into his writing

practice and advice for aspiring poets.

During this second interview, Liam

gives further comprehension into

applying for competitions.

For the Northern Writers Award,

those entering were given a brief and

were asked for a number of poems

from a new project alongside “some

commentary on how that project

would go/be supported.”

“There wasn’t much

of a thought process,

beyond sending the

poems that I had,”

Liam continued.

“Coming off the

back of my debut

collection, I only had

so much new stuff

that was working

so I sent all of that.

I wasn’t sure it was

entirely there, but

the deadline forced

my hand”.

As writers, it’s hard to tell if what you’re

working on is good or succeeding in

what you’re aiming to do, but Liam’s

tale is a depiction that we should run

with our doubt and have faith in our

own abilities.

Liam amplifies this message, stating

that “Poetry is really wonderful and

annoying. You have to follow each

poem down the tunnel of itself.”

“Bordes has a

short story about

an empire whose


becomes so exact

that maps have

to be life-sized;

the inspiration

for a poem is

something like

that. Fortunately,

the more you do it,

somehow the better

you get at it.”

There’s a reason why Lancaster

University is joint 6th in The Sunday

Times’ 2023 rankings for Creative

Writing, for when asking Liam Bates

what at Lancaster University had

really inspired him, he mentioned one

of the plethora of talented teachers

in the English and Creative Writing


“I’d only done Paul

Farley’s MA module

by the time I entered

[the Northern Writers

Award],” he stated,

“but he definitely

knows what he’s

talking about”.

Paul Farley is one of the many talented

teachers within the Creative Writing

department, whose first poetry

collection The Boy from the Chemist

is Here to See You won a Forward

Poetry Prize and The Sunday Times

Young Writer of the Year.

Although cash prizes

are helpful, and “A

not insignificant

portion of the money

will go to other

people’s books”

says Liam of the

Northern Writers

Award, he states

that there are more

benefits to winning

competitions and

prizes than a crash


“New Writing North have support

packages for all; their winners that are

really helpful for industry knowhow

and just a confidence boost.”

“Poetry is crumbs,

realistically, in terms

of both the money

and readership

involved. But

anything that means

I can write some

more good poems,

and a few people

will read them, I’m

grateful for.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

I can’t wait to see where Liam’s talent

and dedication will take him in the

future. He is an inspiration for all of

us Lancaster University students to

keep writing, keep finding inspiration,

and to have faith in our writing even if

we’re not quite sure it’s working.

Photo: @liambatespoet on








Finale on



Caitlyn Taft


As part of the finale of the Light Up

Lancaster arts festival, Lancaster

Council have decided that the

firework display won’t go ahead for


Light up Lancaster has been going

on since 2012, with its purpose being

to create a multi-artform trail the

night before the fireworks finale. The

festival’s finale was a firework display

shot and launched from Lancaster

Castle grounds.

Thanks to funding from Arts Council

England (ACE), Lancaster City

Council, Lancaster BID, and others,

Lancaster Council have confirmed

that the festival will be extended

from two days to three instead of the

firework display.

The reasoning for the axing of the

firework displays is due to the cost

being “difficult to justify”. Councillor

Catherine Potter, cabinet member

with responsibility for tourism,


“At £35,000 for a 17-minute display

the cost is difficult to justify and

we also know that people are

increasingly questioning the

environmental impact of fireworks

and the effect they have on domestic

pets and wildlife.”

However, she is confident that the

extra evening will make up for the

loss of the firework display. The extra

evening grants the festival another

opportunity to showcase local art

and Lancaster’s history and culture.

The festival will be held November

2nd-4th, from 5pm to 9pm, double

the hours of the previous year. The

events will be all over the city centre,

like the Market Square and Dalton


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