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Emma McGordon wins the 2017 Julia Darling Travel Fellowship


On Sunday 4th June, Friends of Julia and New Writing North hosted ‘Rendezvous with Afternoon Tea’ at Ouseburn Farm where we announced Emma McGordon as the 2017 fellowship winner.

Along with sunshine and cream teas, the event also featured readings of Julia’s work from Charlie Hardwick and songs performed by the harmonic ‘Kissed’. The 2016 winner Michelle Green updated us on her trip to Hayling Island, and how her project is developing through the use of digital mapping and sound, adding layers to her stories and the histories captured within them.

Emma McGordon, is a writer from West Cumbria, and plans to use the award to travel to San Francisco.  After receiving the award Emma wowed the audience with an impromptu reading of her poem ‘Father like Me’.


Emma said: “I am delighted to have been awarded the fellowship. It will enable me to start working on a new project that will begin with a journey to San Francisco. I am excited to see how my work will develop in response to the trip and I am extremely grateful to the panel for the opportunity. As well as the financial benefit, an award like this also gives me a huge sense of recognition as a writer and the confidence to keep producing.”

Emma has previously been highly commended in the Rosamund Prize and in the University Women in the Arts awards as well as being shortlisted for Cumbria Writer for the Year. Her poems have been published by Black Suede Boot Press, Penned in the Margins and Tall Lighthouse.

There were over 90 entrants for this year’s fellowship and the judges, Jo Shapcott, Margaret Wilkinson, Charlie Hardwick and Bev Robinson had a hard job of selecting the winner.  There were many fascinating and interesting projects demonstrating the depth of talent and imagination of the creative writers in the North.

The judges commented on Emma’s application:

  “The winning proposal was buzzing with energy and enthusiasm. Its journey from rural to urban, from quiet to loud, from black & white to technicolour, from largely in to hugely out is theatrical and culturally thrilling. I felt that Emma was chomping at the bit, and that not only would she devour the experience but she would also bring it back and share it through her work and with her community.”

Charlie Hardwick

  “A compelling project with real depth, I was greatly impressed by the clarity and precision of this application from a writer who has spent years giving to others in her community wishing to now take inspiration from place and space to write. There was a fearlessness about this writer, juxtaposing the queer experience in rural Cumbria and San Francisco.”

                                                                                                Margaret Wilkinson

‘Rendezvous with Afternoon Tea’ was a chance to showcase the Fellowship winners and all proceeds from the event will go into the prize fund. Thank you to all came and special thanks to Ouseburn Farm, Kissed, Charlie Hardwick, Zoe Lambert, New Writing North, Myslexia Magazine, Sharon Bailey and Colette Bryce for making it a lovely afternoon and donating some fabulous raffle prizes.

The award is crowd-funded and supported by many Friends of Julia’s including fellow writers Lee Hall, David Almond and Jackie Kay. To support the continuation of the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship, see the JustGiving page

For future events follow us on our Facebook Page Friends of Julia

photograph of Emma McGordon by Richard Kenworthy