Our deepest thanks to all of you who sent work our way and spent time considering how best to approach the Annual Ambit Competition for 2021, which took the theme of METAMORPHOSIS. 

As ever, we were fortunately overwhelmed with entries, and can only share disappointment to those that contributed and did not make the winning 1% selected by the outstandingly creative and most esteemed KIM ADDONIZIO & MICHAEL SALU, who encourage you to carry on working to briefs and continue submitting.  

Winning writers, poets and artists have now been notified, and we will soon be distributing the award prize money of over £2500, and are delighted to share publicly the following news:

STORIES, judged by Michael Salu, who shares these notes:

“I primarily looked for work that saw the theme as a frame, and within which might take the freedom- both a blessing and a curse at times- to a place that will encourage both the artist and their audience to be able respond to the work over time. I saw work that did attempt this dialogue, and some were more effective than others in this regard, but I appreciated the effort and exploration applied to each submission.”


In FIRST place for the Annual Ambit Stories Competition 2021:


To The Cow, The Trees by Georgina Parfitt



Welcome Kanye!  by Luke Jackson



Oak Peg by Edward Hofman


COMMENDED (in no order):

Joanne Hayden‘s Wingbeat, Metamorphosis by Xan Nichols, It’s Complicated by William Macbeth, Metamorphosis by Amelia Sparling, Snow by Amanda Hodes, I want, I want by Sharmini Wijeyesekera, Another Life by Laura Plummer, Secrets of a Stitchbird by Jess Richards, Made to Love Magic by Sophie Goldsworthy, Re-branded: My Careworker’s Uniform by Deborah Nash


POEMS, judged by Kim Addonizio – who we’ll be speaking with more on our next podcast, airing on Soho Radio on September 21 at 6pm:

“What I looked for most in the poems I read for this competition were voice, imagination, and a clarity of thought and intention—as well as the delight of finding words and ideas in surprising combinations. I wanted poems that woke me up, that were attentive to language and feeling, boxes that once opened displayed their gifts. So many of the poems I read contained sparks that didn’t quite ignite. But I appreciated something in every piece I read, and I would urge the poets to keep mining their lives and this compromised world for those bright veins of ore that, once brought into language, can help sustain us all.”


In FIRST place for the Annual Ambit Poetry Competition 2021:

“What we are given by Laurie Ogden peels back layers of time and history to consider the pressure of the past on the present self, with compelling images and repetitions that whirl us from opening a matryoshka doll to the moment the speaker finds herself “still spitting echoes into the sink.” The prayerful ending of this short, gorgeous piece evokes a tentative hope and stubborn resilience.”


In SECOND place:

“Things hang well on me now I’m so beautifully sad by Sarah Gibbons is a moving portrait of loss rendered in short, stark lines. The delicately worded way that organ donation is addressed—Dickinson’s all the truth, told slant (“a body must be shared out/in small, hopeful packages”), with the mix of quiet, resonant observations, won me over completely.”


And in THIRD:

E. Walker’s Deus ex Cochlea struck me for its sense of early innocence in a literal garden, an innocence that gives way to the knowledge of guilt and shame. From making mud pies to the wanton destruction of small creatures, the actions of these children hearken back to Biblical notions of the Fall and the crucial lesson that we must caretake “all things great and small.”

Commended (in no order):

Girlhood by Stephanie Powell, Kerkyra, Corfu by Johan Huybrechts, Chrysalis by Mark McGuinness, Corot’s Berthe by Elisabeth Murawski, too small by Elisabeth Murawski, Growing a Face by Mary Mulholland, Hanging with Rexie by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, That Kiss in Padua by Kit Ingram, What the River did Next by Anne Bailey, Poema by Alix Willard


ART, this is the first year the Annual Ambit Competition has featured Art and illustration. Here are the winners selected by the brilliant Michael Salu, who you can hear talk in our podcast series:


In FIRST place:

Being Blue by Lucy Gray


Our SECOND prize goes to:

Metamorphosis by Yeshé Thapa Magar


and in THIRD place:

A Pair of Glasses, a Blue Handbag and an Elegantly Coiled Tail by Nina Carter



Metamorphosis, 2020 by Neelam Bhullar, Snake Seed by Matthew Richardson, Metamorphosis by Lisa Kalloo, Hannah Millar‘s An Altered Network, Rebirth by Aisling McGee, Shapeshifter by Susanna Burton, Eyes of Sierra Padre by Chris Vaughan, Posture ay punctuate collection by Ben Thompson, A Transformation, from the ‘Seventh Swan’ a forgotten folk tale by Sasha Alfille, Wormhearts by Essy Syed


Ambit’s new editor, Kirsty Allison explains:

“ Congratulations to all of those who made it over the finishing line, and for those disappointed not to be listed here – please remember that three of the authors published in Ambit Pop had tried before, but hadn’t been selected, despite now being well published, and respected in the literary community – so keep the faith, and keep at it. I’ve been surprised to see that many writers may be selected for one edition, but that in no way guarantees future publication. The competition could not happen without your entries, which fund judges and prize money, so thank you Everyone for playing a part in continuing this legendary event. 

“For the first time in Ambit’s history, we’re creating a special edition which prints all the winners.  The Ambit team chose the theme of Metamorphosis on one of my early Zooms, when I was working as Managing Editor, and Ambit Pop 245 is now set to be the first edition to carry my name as editor, something I’m very proud and humbled to be a part of, as Ambit gave me such a home when my fiction was first selected and published in the pages I’d long admired back in 2007. It will drop at the end of October/early November – so I’m excited to be in discussion with Ambit’s new designer, the great Stephen Barrett, and the judges, and illustration editor, Mireille Fauchon on how to make this next Ambit as iconic and prophetic a piece of print as the legacy which I’m delighted to continue, with the sole aim to showcase the best poetry, stories and art in the world, providing ladders into arts and literature for All.

“We’ll also be partying, and getting together beyond London – to celebrate what it is to know and be a part of Ambit, and I’m excited to rear new future Ambit family.

“It’s been a great pleasure working with Michael Salu, I’m entirely grateful for he being part of the cause, especially stepping up when Deborah Levy suffered a family bereavement. Kim Addonizio has fast become my favourite female writer since becoming aware of her through Briony Bax’s invitation to have her judge.  Honestly,  I’m gravely disgusted I wasn’t aware of her before as she’s a woman who shares a similar heart- it will be an honour to publish an exclusive poem from her, about her relationship with England, but also speak with her later this month for our next podcast airing first on Soho Radio.”

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