Laura Morris, an English teacher from Caerphilly, has won the 2022 Rhys Davies Short Story Competition for her story ‘Cree’, described by guest judge Rachel Trezise as “bristling with an irresistible melancholia and brimming with a bold confidence.”
The competition recognises the very best unpublished short stories in English in any style and on any subject up to a maximum of 5,000 words by writers aged 18 or over who were born in Wales, have lived in Wales for two years or more, or are currently living in Wales.
‘Cree’ is a story about the unconventional friendship between a 55-year-old junior schoolteacher Meryl Williams and her young pupil, Ben. With a school inspection looming, Meryl and Ben build a time machine in the classroom, hoping to impress. While Meryl feels life trickle away like 'sand through an hourglass', it is Ben's kindness which offers her a safe place, her very own version of ‘Cree’.
Laura, 43, earned an MA in Creative Writing from Bangor University. Her work has been published by Honno Press and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Recent short stories have appeared in The Lonely Crowd and Banshee. She now lives in Cardiff where she is the Head of English at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern.
Established in 1991, there have been nine Rhys Davies Short Story contests to date. The competition was relaunched by Swansea University’s Cultural Institute on behalf of The Rhys Davies Trust in 2021, in association with Parthian Books.
Laura wins £1,000 and has her winning entry featured in the Rhys Davies Short Story Award Anthology 2022, which is published by Parthian in October. The stories from the other 11 finalists in this year’s competition will also feature in the anthology.
This year’s guest judge, the multi-award-winning Welsh novelist and playwright Rachel Trezise, said: “Laura Morris' ‘Cree’ bristles with an irresistible melancholia and brims with a bold confidence. It's maturity of tone lived long in my memory bringing me back to the story, bittersweet though it is, time and again.”
On receiving the award, Laura said: “I was introduced to Rhys Davies’ short stories at university, when I was just starting to write. Davies’ portrayal of women continues to fascinate me, as women and womanhood are central to my own stories. I am delighted that my short story ‘Cree’ has won this award, but I am even more delighted for the story’s protagonist, Meryl, as she has never won anything! It is an honour to receive this recognition from Rachel Trezise, a writer whose work I admire.”
Born in Blaenclydach in the Rhondda in 1901, Rhys Davies was among the most dedicated, prolific, and accomplished of Welsh prose-writers in English. He wrote, in all, more than 100 stories, 20 novels, three novellas, two topographical books about Wales, two plays, and an autobiography.
Guest judge Rachel Trezise, editor Elaine Canning, overall winner Laura Morris and the finalists of the 2022 Rhys Davies Short Story Competition will talk about the collection and the short story form at the launch of the anthology in Swansea’s Waterstones on Thursday, 13 October at 6.30pm.