2004 Momaya Press Prize Ceremony
Hosted by the London Review Bookshop
Winning stories performed by the American Repertory Theatre of London
Creative writing and theatre met at the London Review Bookshop, host of the 2004 Momaya Press Prize Ceremony. The Momaya Press Prize Ceremony featured dramatic performances of the winning entries by actors from the American Repertory Theatre of London. The event was lively and engaging, with creative interpretation of the short stories by the actors and distribution of awards to the authors. Afterwards, attendees enjoyed a glass of wine and the chance to meet authors, actors, agents, and publishers.
In attendance were the winning and published writers featured in the Momaya Annual Review, and the 2004 Competition judges from The Times Magazine, Vintage (and imprint of Random House), and Andrew Nurnberg Associates literary agency. In addition, a number of media and literary/acting agents came to hear from fresh talent. Copies of the Momaya Annual Review 2004, featuring the winning authors, were available for purchase.
The 2004 Momaya Short Story Competition
The inaugural Momaya Short Story Competition met with more success than we could have imagined. Congratulations to our winners, who were chosen from a pool of 142 submissions. Authors from twelve countries around the world submitted stories, with the majority of 65% coming from the United Kingdom, followed by 20% from the United States, 4% from Australia and Ireland, and the remainder from Bahrain, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, and Taiwan. Women accounted for 60% of the entries, and many writers chose to submit multiple stories.
The three judges were Anna Von Pezold, a literary agent at Andrew Nurnberg Associates, Jason Arthur, Editorial Director at Vintage (an imprint of Random House), and Lucy Alexander, a writer at The Times Magazine. The judges spoke highly of the overall quality of the submissions, and entered into lively debate over certain stories. They encourage those who submitted to keep writing, and expressed their interest in raising the profile of the short story in the literary world.
The theme of the 2004 Momaya Annual Review was food - a theme accessible to all. In addition to the stories chosen by the judges, we have published some stories that we thought were particularly strong on the theme of food. We found it interesting that a good number of the stories (including the 1st place winner “Gethesiminal” by Alexandra Fox and 2nd place winner “Jeda by Design” by Sally Haxton) were quite dark in their focus. Is there a link between food and death? Between denial and indulgence? We included some humorous stories like “These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruin”, by Deborah Thomas to lighten the mood.
The Future of Momaya Press
Building on the success of our first year, we look forward to generating more submissions in the coming year, with the possibility of expanding the size of the Momaya Annual Review to publish more authors. We are also working to find alternative outlets for short story authors, through performance art, film, and magazine publications.
We encourage everyone who submitted this year to continue writing, and look forward to reading your submission for future competitions. We welcome your ideas for how we can attain our mission of widening the audience for the short story.
Feedback from Actors, Writers, and Judges involved with the Momaya Press in 2004:
Lucy Alexander, The Times Magazine, Judge
Noah Birksted-Breen, Actor and Director
Deborah Thomas, Author, “This will Never be a Noodle Bar” and “These
Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruin”
Alexandra Fox, Winner of Momaya Short Story Competition 2004, “Gethesiminal”
I had a lovely evening. The performances were magic. I'm keeping in touch with Anne Wittman. She's asked me if she can do Gethseminal again at Hampstead, and I'm delighted. I'm going to let her have some other monologue-type pieces in case she's interested in putting them into repertoire. Funnily enough a woman from the BBC read some of my stuff a few months ago and said some of the stories would work as dramatic monologue, but I can't imagine a more inspiring performance than the one last night.
The competition was very well run. Feedback about the entry process was clear, and I was kept well informed throughout. Personally, it's my first year of writing, so this was one of the earliest competitions I entered, but everything about the process made me feel welcome.
The prize ceremony was extraordinary. I must admit that when I first heard that there were going to be dramatic performances, I couldn't see how anybody could dramatise what is in effect a very verbally intricate suicide monologue. When I actually saw Anne Wittman perform the story I was astonished. She brought a whole other dimension to the work that I hadn't appreciated, because I had written from within the character, but she acted it as herself within the same words and gave them something more.
The prize giving itself was warm, friendly and well organised. I enjoyed having the opportunity to speak to members of the audience, other writers, judges and actors afterwards. It made the whole experience very special indeed.
I extend deep thanks to Monisha and Maya for organising the competition as a whole, giving short-story writers in the UK in particular a market and a readership for their works. The standard of the other competitors' stories was exceptionally good. The Momaya Annual Review is beautifully produced and I will treasure it.
Meredith Gee, 3rd Place Momaya Short Story Competition 2004, “There were
Momaya Press comes in, for this writer, at least, like a blast of air through an open window. Listening to the stories chosen for the award ceremony was an emotional experience. Not only because many of the stories were emotional journeys, but also because they were bravely written, and bravely chosen in a world which panders to the shallower stuff.
You have my wholehearted support for what you are doing. The first Momaya Review is great. It is a pleasure to read, and will be given as a Christmas present to family and friends in the hope of spreading a good thing a little wider.
I will be submitting and entering your competitions again and again... and even if I don't make it to the last three next time, good luck to everyone who enters, and to you, the people with vision, who are running and organising this.
The event at the London Review Bookshop will never be forgotten. It was that bit different, that bit more exciting, daring, it took risks, and it hit the spot. I guess that's what I want to do with my writing, and you encapsulated it in a couple of hours on a cold evening in London!
Sally Haxthow, 2nd Place Momaya Short Story Competition 2004, “Jeda by
Anthony Psalia, Author, “Juan Pablo’s Favorite Dish”
Of course, having my first published short story in the review was validation and recognition of one's efforts and it's certainly inspired me to keep writing - and more importantly to keep sending my work out, because although the writing is the thing - there's little sense it keeping that thing to yourself - unless you're writing a secret diary!
I enjoyed meeting a few of the other writers, but didn't get to identify most of them till after the event when it was time to go. I think events like this are reminders that you are not writing in a void, that there is some sort of amorphous 'movement' of writers just like yourself - with jobs and families and commitments - and though one might not want to belong to any organised writers group, membership of a bigger community is a welcome thought.
I hope you will keep me posted of any future events and (subject to my productivity) I will certainly by sending you my work again.
Germaine Stafford, Author, “Consumed by Desire”
I applaud your choice of judges, and have no hesitation in confessing that this played a large part in my deciding to participate in the 2004 competition. I also think that your presentation evening was a perfect opportunity for writers, (and in this case actors), to meet up and feel part of a community, something that happens all too rarely. Were there more events of its type, I am sure the future of the short story would benefit considerably.
Thank you again for everything, and I look forward to participating in next year's competition!
Andrew Stilwell, Manager of the London Review Bookshop,
Colin Upton, Author, “Garlic Bread’s Fine”
Anne Wittman, Actress, Performed “Gethseminal”
Short stories can lend themselves brilliantly to theatrical adaptation. I have created several theatre pieces from non-dramatic writing before, including fantasy writer Elizabeth Hand's short story "The Have-Nots". The advantage of the short story as a theatre piece as opposed to a novel is its concentration - this can help to create an intensely theatrical experience. "Gethseminal" was ideally suited to dramatic format in that in addition to being a short story in it's own right, it was also a monologue as it had been written in the first person. Other short stories can raise interesting challenges to the performer with choices to be made about handling of multiple characters or narration, non-linear treatment of time and creating a dramatic shape for the piece through focus and emphasis.
With the Momaya Press Awards held at the London Review Bookshop, the performers also needed to be mindful of the nature of the event. While I was no stranger to non-traditional performance spaces, it was important to consider where we were. I voiced my concerns to actress and director Kate Gielgud who mercifully stepped in during the last couple of panicked days before the performance to offer guidance, moral support and an intelligent eye. "Every space is a theatre space." she said with a twinkle - and with that, it was settled.
In presenting a short story for perfomance, as with any other piece of literature - dramatic or not, it is all in the writing...so long as you delve deeply and fearlessly into what is written.
Mary Wilson, Author, “The Ring”
The Momaya Short Story Competition is now accepting submissions at: www.momayapress.com.
For more information on the Momaya Press contact: firstname.lastname@example.org