Lesley Saunders and Mandy Coe shared the £10,000 Manchester Poetry Prize at the opening of Manchester Literature Festival.
Slough-based Saunders, a university professor, and Coe, a former welder and electronics engineer from Liverpool , impressed with their contrasting but brilliant styles to jointly receive the inaugural award – the second largest in British poetry.
Helen Mort, 23, from Sheffield, won the £2,000 Manchester Young Poet Prize at the event hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University Writing School at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Judges Carol Ann Duffy, Imtiaz Dharker and Gillian Clarke read a selection of their work before announcing the winners.
Carol Ann, Professor of Poetry at MMU, praised the quality of the 1,137 entries from 30 countries saying: "This is a wonderful prize. We adored some of the poetry submitted."
Gillian Clarke, the National Poet for Wales, said it was a "delight to give money to poets".
Six shortlisted finalists – Mike Barlow, Mandy Coe, Allison McVety, Helen Mort, Rosie Shepperd and Lesley Saunders read from their work, but it was Coe and Saunders who took the plaudits.
Co-host and organiser James Draper of the Writing School, confirmed that next year’s prize will be for fiction.
Dr Alf Louvre, of the Department of English, who conceived the annual event, said: "The idea is to stage prizes for fiction and poetry in alternate years to attract the best writers from the UK and internationally, as well as developing the city’s own literary culture."