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Magic Oxygen Literary Prize 2014-15: the shortlist

We are delighted to combine Happy New Year well wishes, with the announcement of the shortlist for the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, 2014-15.

We received around 800 entries from 31 countries and the quality was high and incredibly diverse.

The 22 judges we selected to critique the work were all literary achievers in their own right and they brought expertise to the table from many different fields of writing and editing. They also added international flair and empathy, as several of them were dotted around the planet and made their decisions remotely via email.

They all worked incredibly hard during the main judging weekend in early December and many of the UK evaluators met at a farmhouse near our office here in the south west; visit our judgemental gallery for a behind the scenes peek.

After a great deal of deliberation, comment and discussion, we finally nailed down a longlist of fifteen pieces in each category and over the past few weeks, the judges have allocated their final scores.

The winners will be announced on Saturday 14th February at the Lyme Regis Literary Festival where we hope to do a little live streaming of the event too.

For now, we’ll leave you to ponder our shortlist with great excitement. All of the short stories and poems listed below will be featured in our anthology which is an absolutely cracking read!

If you’d like a copy, you can place a pre-order in our shop now and beyond the 14th February, you’ll be able to order it from your local bookshop.

Every single book sale will result in another tree being planted in our tropical Word Forest.

Thank you in advance for helping to springboard these talented new writers and for supporting this incredibly important reforestation project.

Here are our shortlisted entries in alphabetical order:


  • “Celia’s Shoes” by Sharon Black (FR)
  • “Modern” by Eleonore Schonmaier (NL)
  • “Of Ectoplasm And Mother” by Corrinna Toop (UK)
  • “Step-Mother” by Catherine Rolfe (UK)
  • “The Loneliness Of The Drunk Mathematician” by Heather Combe (UK)
  • “The Old House” by Paul Sherman (UK)
  • “The Song Of The Child That Wants To Come” by Graham Burchell (UK)
  • “The World Stands Still To Weep” by Sarah Wallis (UK)
  • “Unwinding” by Fiona McIlroy (AU)
  • “Woman” by Hannah Cooper-Smithson (UK)


  • “A Season For All People” by Shirley Golden (UK)
  • “Blurred Edges” by Michelle Wright (AU)
  • “Decisions, Decisions” by Christie Cluett (UK)
  • “Looking For Joey” by Fred Canavan (UK)
  • “Tears In Hailar” by James de Beresford (UK)
  • “The Blank Space” by Gordon Strong (UK)
  • “The Journalist” by Christopher Naylor (AU)
  • “The Lotus Shoes” by Kristina Pawliw (AU)
  • “Waking” by Teresa Stenson (UK)
  • “Weapon Of God” by Casey Tonkin (AU)

Excitedly yours,

The Team

19 thoughts on “Magic Oxygen Literary Prize 2014-15: the shortlist

  1. Congratulations to all the shortlisted writers. Strangely, I don’t feel too disappointed about my story not making the list – being able to tell people I have a tree in Africa is more than adequate compensation.
    Happy New Year everyone!

    1. Hi Linda,

      Thank you kindly for your comments and we’re delighted you feel that way. With the planting and building going on right now, we couldn’t feel prouder of what everyone has achieved.

      Hope you get involved in #MOLP2!

      Happy New Year lovely lady,

      The Team

  2. I feel exactly the same as you, Linda. I feel like I’m part of a movement to give more trees (and oxygen) to the world. Hope this is the start of something big. May 2015 be even better.


    1. Thank you Clifford, kind sentiments indeed.

      We will continue to expand the Word Forest and are planting a tree for every anthology sold.

      Kind regards and Happy New Year.

      The Team
      All shortlister pieces will be in it!

  3. When you don’t get shortlisted in a competition there is a nice fat silver lining, which is the opportunity to dust the story down and make it even better. Being shortlisted is a first for me, cherished and not something I would swap- but it was a peculiar sensation. Rather than run round my flat dancing the very first thought was: ‘Darn it. I don’t really want this just yet because I’ve improved the story’. I think that’s how it should almost always be. Knowing there is always room for improvement. On the other hand, being in China for so long helped teach me to accept when things are not perfect but good enough. That now balances well with my perfectionism. So to those not shortlisted keep going! In my case, this was second time lucky. If I’d won the first time around the story would definitely have been showcased in a significantly weaker form, strong though it seemed at the time. And going back even further the story was once a rather sickly sapling that nearly went the way of various houseplants I’ve owned. It was funny watching how it suddenly came into blossom. Long story short it was basically a lot of hard work. I also submitted it to 3 short story reviewers on Fiverr (Parodistlost- no friend or relation- was my fave; I also crit on there as Safemouse ) and that was worth it because they were good value for money and more critical than my best mate. And only 2 out of 3 liked it, so it’s also down to personal taste. Thanks again to Tracey, Simon and the judges.

    1. Hi James,

      It’s great to have you on the list and it’s a very good piece of work!

      Thanks for helping us spread the word about #MOLP on your blog post – #MOLP2 will be open for submissions before you know it…

      The Team

  4. My pleasure, Tracey. I will most likely have a crack at it and be aiming to bring anyone else I can on board. BTW, to those interested the reviewer I plugged is actually parodist_lost!! (Don’t forget the underscore).

    1. Thank you – I’ll go have a peek…


  5. Good luck to all the participants, though possibly one more than others!

    I will have to be strict with myself and get my own creative juices flowing for MOLP2, though for now I can only be inspired by all those who have persevered and had the guts to submit their work to such a competition.

    1. Thanks James, not sure who you are hoping to win but we agree wholeheartedly with getting something started for #MOLP2. We will announce te opening date in a while but it’s never too early to get that first draft down and then start the refining and editing. A poem or a story very, very rarely indeed are their best when first written. As our friend, judge and author Chris Hill says, not winning writing competitions can teach you a lot about the craft of writing.

  6. I am proud and delighted to have been part of this invaluable tree-planting process. I am absolutely thrilled to be short-listed into the bargain. ‘The Old House’ was a quirky piece for me to write and I really have no idea where it came from. However I was very pleased with its dark and rhythmic outcome and that it is a poem that tells a story.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your kind comments about MOLP and our Word Forest – we cannot wait to open the doors for #MOLP2!

      Your piece was fabulous (delightfully dark) as indeed are all the shortlisted works and I wish you lots of luck for the final.

      The Team

  7. […] Free Press. Resourceful and possessed of great shoes, Karen has recently been a judge for the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, continues to take the Rubbish Diet from strength to strength worldwide and has given a well […]

    1. Delightful to see our wonderful #MOLP judge, Karen Cannard, featured in this great blog post!

      The Team

  8. Like James Li said, its about having the guts to submit one’s work. I have never submitted anything since I was in grade 4. So while I have not been shortlisted, I am congratulating myself for at least the “guts”. Am also happy to be part of this movement. Great work Simon and Tracey West.

    1. Hi Arthea,

      Thank you for your kind comments too. Simon and I have been delightfully overwhelmed by positive comments about the Word Forest but on a simple, literary level, it’s great to hear you’re emerging into a more confident writer.

      #MOLP2 will be open before you know it and we hope you’ll get involved again but in the meantime, embrace the thought of just writing for the sake of it and have fun doing so!

      Sending New Year well wishes,

      Tracey & The Team

  9. I am a bit sad not to have been shortlisted but it is great satisfaction to have 3 trees planted in submitting twice for the competition and now in buying the book. Thank you so much for this fantastic inspiring project surely inspired by Wangari Mathai who is surely spreading the sun of her smile over here and over there in the air and in the hearts. Congratulations to the shortlisted!

    1. Dear Ashelle,

      Thank you so much for your kind words – you have no idea how much they mean to us to receive them!

      We have had so many heartfelt well wishes about the Word Forest and it is fantastic to think everyone has been part of such a legacy project.

      We hope you’ll consider getting involved in MOLP2 which will have her doors open before you know it!

      With love and kind regards,

      The Team

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