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text: The Portico Prize with architectural black and white porticoSince 2008 judging has been split between Fiction and Non-Fiction. High quality judges for each category of fiction and non-fiction are chosen for their relevance to the ethos of the Prize, together with their relationship to the literary world and the North of England.


Andrew Biswell, judge for Poetry Prize for Fiction and PoetryAndrew Biswell is the Professor of Modern Literature in the English Department at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he teaches modern and contemporary literature. His academic work includes book publications, public exhibitions, broadcasting for television and radio, writing articles for newspapers and literary journals, and electronic publication of research materials.
He is currently writing a book about British writers of the 1930s.
Andrew was a Portico Prize winner in 2006 with The Real Life of Anthony Burgess (Picador) and was editor of the print and digital editions of A Clockwork Orange: The Restored Text (Penguin Classics). He is also the director of The International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Rachel Mann, judge for Poetry Prize for Fiction and PoetryRachel Mann writes poetry, liturgy and short stories. She also writes on music, particularly prog, folk and metal, for magazines like Prog Magazine and The Quietus.
She was ordained into the Church of England in 2005, was appointed Poet-in-Residence at Manchester Cathedral and acted as lead person for the Cathedral’s International Religious Poetry Competition. Rachel also helped to establish the annual ‘Manchester Sermon’, a collaboration between Manchester Literature Festival and the Cathedral.
Her poetry has been widely published and two of her books, Dazzling Darkness (2012) and The Risen Dust (2013) are published by Wild Goose Publications.

Joes Stretch, Judge for Pioetry Prize for Fiction and PoetryJoe Stretch wrote his first novel, Friction, published by Vintage Books at Random House in 2008. His second novel, Wildlife, was published in 2009. His visceral, savage writing style has led to comparisons with French novelist Michel Houellebecq.
In 2010 Stretch wrote the first ever Choose Your Own Adventure audio novel to appear on Spotify. It was read by the actress Anna Friel and marked the release of the debut album by the band Hurts. Joe sings in his own band Performance.
He is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Keele University. His third book, The Adult (2012) won the Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Portico Prize.


C P Lee, Judge for Poetry Prize for non-Fiction 2015C P Lee (Christopher Paul "CP" Lee) is a writer, broadcaster, lecturer and performer who started playing in the North West folk and beat clubs of the 1960s with his band Greasy Bear and became a lynchpin of the punk rock explosion with his next band Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias.
Lee worked as a music journalist and has published When We Were Thin (2007), a personal memoir; Like The Night (Revisited) (2004), focusing on the shout of 'Judas' aimed at Bob Dylan at his Manchester Free Trade Hall performance in 1966 (which was the climax of Martin Scorsese's documentary of Dylan, 'No Direction Home', also about Dylan) and Shake, Rattle & Rain, on Manchester music-making.
CP Lee was a course leader in film studies and senior lecturer at the University of Salford and successfully continues writing and presenting talks as well as documentaries for BBC radio and TV.

Neil Sowerby, judge for Portico Prize for non-Fiction 2015Neil Sowerby is a North West-based freelance food and travel writer, reviewing for a variety of publications. He acts as food consultant to two PR companies (which led him to become the official Stilton cheese blogger) and travel editor of the Manchester Confidential website, to whom he also contributes regular wine and beer columns.
He writes/ghosts cook books ranging from an Asian Seafood compendium to a collaboration with a Michelin-starred chef. His last book, with chef Robert Owen Brown, Crispy Squirrel and Vimto Trifle, was in the Observer Food Monthly’s top 50 for 2014. Most recently he has been commissioned to research a history of Manchester’s iconic chop houses with recipes.
He also currently edits the Taste of Manchester website and is the longest-serving judge for the Manchester Food and Drink Awards.
Oxford-educated (and former president of the Oxford University Poetry Society), he was inspired to write about food and drink after encountering the late Alan Davidson at the Oxford Food Symposium in the Eighties.
After two spells on the Daily Mirror he joined the Manchester Evening News, where for a decade he was Deputy Features Editor, latterly running entertainments supplement CityLife and founding For the MEN he was food and drink/travel editor, reviewing restaurants and wine each week and Hi-Life Restaurant critic of the year in 2006.

Michael Wood, judge for Portico Prize for non-Fiction 2015Michael Wood is one of the country's best loved historians who has been a regular face on our TV screens for over three decades, has made well over a hundred documentary films from In Search of the Trojan War and The Story of India. He is also the author of numerous best-selling history books, including Domesday and In Search of Shakespeare. The Independent called his recent Story of England 'the most innovative history series ever on TV'. His documentaries have been described by Bettany Hughes and the Wall Street Journal as 'still the gold standard'.
The enthusiastic public response to his recent 'Great British Story' inspired a major Heritage Lottery Fund programme, 'All Our Stories', to help people across the UK explore their community's heritage.
He is the recently appointed Professor of Public History at The University of Manchester.


Past judges include Alan Garner (1987), Adele Geras (1993), Gerald Kaufman (1993), His Hon. Judge Michael Lever (2000), Tony Warren (2002), Livi Michael (2004), Melvin Burgess (2006), Jenni Murray (2006), Mike Harding (2008), Stella Butler (2010), Ed Glinert (2010) and Val McDermid (2010), Arthur Bostrom (2012) and Stuart Maconie (2012).

text: The Zochonis Charitable Trust & Arts Council England