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Prizes, prizes

29 June 2009

Not a day seems to go by without a literary prize announcement. Even so the news that this week the author Siobhan Dowd has won the Highly-regarded CILIP Carnegie Prize was unusual, for Dowd died in 2007. Her book Bog Child is set in Northern Ireland in 1981, at the height of the troubles, and is about a teenager who discovers a child's body which has lain undiscovered in the peat for 2,000 years.

Her editor David Fickling accepted the prize on her behalf, using his speech to speak against library cuts: 'Libraries are struggling to survive on less and less funding and children have access to fewer books. Children need stories. Siobhan believed that stories help children to think and if they can think, then they are free.'

Before she died the author set up the Siobhan Dowd Trust, which receives royalties from all her books and which helps disadvantaged children in care who do not have access to books. Fickling said: 'It is about offering new possibilities, new life and excitement to children by making books accessible.'

Elsewhere, this week saw the announcement of the inaugural Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets, set up by the British Library, working in partnership with the Poetry Book SocietySpecialist book club founded by T S Eliot in 1953, which aims to offer the best new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. Members buy at 25% discount. The PBS has a handsome new website at These support poetry published in pamphlet form and the first winner of the Poetry Award was Elizabeth Burns with The Shortest Days. The innovative Pamphlet Publishers' Award, intended to support the work of small presses, was won by newcomer Oystercatcher Press. The Awards are intended to bring poetry pamphlets to a wider audience, to support new work and to throw a spotlight on the work of small poetry presses.

Ian McMillan, Chair of the Judges, said: 'Elizabeth Burns is an outstanding winner from a very strong shortlist because of the maturity and completeness of the work, which fits the pamphlet form perfectly. Oystercatcher Press feels like a publisher taking risks with older and newer writers from outside the perceived centre of British poetry.'

The Carnegie Medal

Guardian story on Siobhan Dowd

The Michael Marks Awards

To buy submitted pamphlets