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Creative Writing at Chichester changed my life, says prize winner

A graduate who says that creative writing courses at the University of Chichester “changed my life” has won the £1,000 first prize in a national poetry competition.

Josephine Corcoran, who graduated with First Class Honours in English with Media Studies in 1996, was named as winner in the Stafford Poetry Prize by the judge Michael Hulse.

Hulse lavished high praise on Josy’s poem, ‘In Town For A Funeral, We Drive Past Our Old House And See It Is For Sale’. He called it a “scintillating winner”, which used “intriguing and tantalising” devices to deliver an “elegant, evocative” performance.

Afterwards Josy described herself as “so pleased to have won – I know it sounds corny, but studying Creative Writing at Chichester changed my life! I had always wanted to write but hadn't actually finished anything when I started taking Creative Writing classes.

“The encouragement from my tutors, Alison MacLeod, John Saunders, Hugh Dunkerley, Hugo Donnelly, Vicki Feaver and Karen Stevens, and the attention they gave to my work, gave me the confidence to believe that I could be a writer.

“Now I’ve been writing for almost 20 years, with several reams of blank pages in the noughties, when my children were very young. My failures and rejections far outweigh any acceptances for publication and successes in competitions, although I’ve had a few. So First Prize, in a reputable competition with an acclaimed writer as judge, not to mention a tidy cheque, has certainly put a spring in my step this week!”

In his judge’s report, Michael Hulse said that Josy’s poem described “the re-visiting of a house by three sisters – an entirely everyday thing, as they go “home” to see what has become of the old place.

He said: “What is past and what is present, what is real and what is not, are confounded in the most intriguing and tantalising of ways in this elegant, evocative performance. Josephine Corcoran’s poem is the scintillating winner of the £1,000 first prize.”

Josy, who gained an MA in Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) at UEA after finishing at Chichester, currently writes poetry and short fiction, including flash-fiction, but in the past she has also written plays. 

Some of her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and professionally performed on stage.  She is published in various magazines and anthologies and has won, or been placed, in several writing competitions, including The Bridport Prize. 

Josy works as a writing tutor in Adult Education and she is involved in schools and community writing projects. Her website: