ENTRIES for this year’s Bridport Prize were up by 40 per cent – lured by top judges and the ease of internet entries.

Bridport Prize organiser Frances Everitt said the increase was ‘astonishing’ – as was the standard of writing for one of the richest and most prestigious writing competitions.

She said: “This year was a record breaking year, it always is, but this time it really, really was just incredible with entries up by 40 per cent.

“Last year there were just over 10,000 and this year we had 14,444, which is quite astonishing.

“I do think the renown of our judges helps. This year we were incredibly lucky to get Jackie Kay and Ali Smith and a lot of the entrants, and certainly the winners, were so excited at the thought that either Jackie or Ali had actually read their work.

“Although the percentage of overseas entries remained similar at about 30 per cent, the internet submissions doubled from just over 4,000 last year to 8,500 this year.

“Logistically it was a complete nightmare. Ray Gibbs who takes the internet entries on to his computer and prints them off was tearing his hair out. We really appreciate what he did.”

This year Ms Everitt joined the band of readers, some of whom have to read more than 1,000 stories or poems each.

There are 12 readers for the story section, which this year saw 6,606 entries and three for the 7,838 poems.

“It is a very hard job especially as the majority of entries come in the last two weeks.

“Readers have from the end of June to early August. They get a tiny token payment which is almost embarrassing but I think all of them would say they enjoy doing it. Although they have to read up to 20 stories a day they take their responsibility seriously and read them all carefully.”

Even with so many coming in the standard remained high, added Ms Everitt. “The judges said some very complimentary things and Jackie ends her report saying she was startled by the standard.”

The Winners Judging the poetry entries, poet Jackie Kay said: “There were wonderful poems in this year’s entry, so various and so commendable in many ways. In the end, I chose poems which were memorable, and touched me, poems about the age-old, time-worn themes of love and loss, relationships and grief, time and change.”

Dore Kiesselbach from Minneapolis, USA, won the first prize of £5,000 for his poem ‘Non-invasive’.

Second prize of £1,000 went to Nick MacKinnon from Winchester and the third prize of £500 to Lydia Fulleylove of the Isle of Wight, Author Ali Smith judging the short story category said, “All good writing is about economy, edit, rhythm and precision; the short story form demonstrates this to the other literary forms. An end, when it comes, should always send you back to the beginning, because a good story, like any real art, demands revisitation. A good short story is lifelong.” Ali Smith chose ‘Something’ by Jenny Clarkson from Lincoln, for the £5,000. first prize.

Natasha Soobramanien from Edinburgh won the second prize of £1,000 and the third prize of £500 was awarded to N Nye of Colorado, USA.

Runners-up prizes for poetry were won by Josephine Abbott, Liz Bassett, Alan Buckley, Rhonda Collis, Claire Diprose, Ben Holden, Rhiannon Hooson, Christopher Horton, Helen Oswald, Vidyan Ravinthiran.

Runners-up prizes for short story were won by Bobbie Allen, Cheryl Alu, Anna Britten, Zach Falcon, Helen Geoghegan, Kate Hendry, Nicholas Hogg, Joshua Lobb, Annemarie Neary, Teresa Stenson. Joanna Quinn won the Dorset Award given to the best entry from Dorset.