Martelle scoops top writing award

Martelle McPartland
Martelle McPartland

A LURGAN writer has scooped a top award in an international writing competition.

Martelle McPartland from the Antrim Road, was Highly Commended in The Bridport Prize, one of the most prestigious open literary awards in the UK.

The competition attracts thousands of entries, not just from the UK, but also from over 80 countries around the world.

Martelle helps facilitate the Lough Neagh Writers - a group of poets, musicians and writers based at Oxford Island’s Waterside House.

She also runs a Healing Through Creative Writing Workshop based at the Chsyalis Centre in Craigavon.

The former nurse received her award at the ceremony on October 14 for her story ‘Big Mary and the Kraft Cheese Slices.’

Renowned author and competition judge Patrick Gale was particularly taken by Martelle’s story.

“I’m under no illusions that the short story is an easy form simply because of its brevity. The few that succeed somehow pack the wallop of a novel into a tiny space. I don’t look for twists or surprises particularly, and I’m equally interested in material that is funny, sad or sinister, but I was looking for stories which leave me feeling I’ve had a full meal emotionally, not just a starter,” he said.

Having trained as a nurse, Martelle spent three years working in the Accident and Emergency Department of Belfast City Hospital where she came into close contact with the devastation caused by the Troubles. Drawing on these experiences she began to write and in 2001 completed her MA in Creative Writing at Queen’s University Belfast.

Propelled by her experiences she initiated ‘Everyday Lives’ a Peace 2 project which resulted in an anthology of stories and images created by children affected by the Troubles.

Martelle has also been placed in different writing competitions, including one organised by the Daily Derby telegraph of which she was runner up, and has had several poems and short stories published.

She has worked with Belfast artists, Sharon Kelly and David Braziel to make a series of short story films which are innovative in their presentation.

“Recently I have completed my first play, From the Other Side which is being adapted for radio. While writing the play I collaborated with Johnathon Cordner, a Portadown singer and songwriter who composed the original sound track and songs to accompany the play,” said Martelle, who is also collaborating with other artists on a variety of projects.

The Lough Neagh Writers meet on Tuesday’s from 8pm to 9.30pm while the Healing Through Creative Writing Workshop is on Mondays at the Chsyalis Centre in Craigavon.