Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries First Quarter 2015

First: Carousel by Katharine Orton

Second: Swamp Monster by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Third: Blast from the Past by Michael Kirby

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

 

Highly Commended: Davy Jones' Lock-up by Steve Startup

 

Judge’s Report for the first quarter’s competition 2015 from  Darren J Guest

 

1st: Carousel

Carousel is a beautifully crafted portrait of domestic violence that draws the reader along the doomed pathway of the victim, and lets us experience, and most importantly understand, the way in which the victim rationalises and repeatedly submits to the ongoing emotional blackmail of an abusive partner.  It also highlights a unique perspective within this dynamic: the brief empowerment of the victim:

I’m formidable now you’re weak. Now your rage has burned out and your fists have turned inwards again.

I found this an excruciatingly sad line, both for its naivety and for the emptiness of the threat, but it’s from this higher place the victim draws her strength to forgive, damning herself to the same cycle of abuse in the process.  Add to this powerful narrative a simple but wholly effective metaphor, and Carousel becomes a very worthy winner.

 

2nd: Swamp Monster

Swamp Monster is a story far greater than the sum of its parts.  The prose is spacious and easy, but the reader is cozened into filling the void between what is not said with the larger narrative at play, a narrative that is positively sweat-soaked.

I laugh, thinking of those airless rooms on Bourbon Street where we screwed on voodoo mats with the night sounds of the French Quarter filtering through white shutters. Bats, bones and marble graveyards glistening in the July moonlight. 

Deft touches like this drip through the open pores of this piece.  The atmosphere is evocative, provocative, and the sin that lies at the black heart of this tale can almost be – if not forgiven – understood.  The southern fever that infects our blasphemous pair is to blame here, and jazz is the score of their temporary insanity. 

But when sanity is returned, and the temperature of the fever is brought down – both in climate and in the coldblooded nature of the father – all that has gone before seems dreamlike, and speaks volumes for the skill of the writer.

 

3rd: Blast from the Past

In Blast from the Past, tone, rhythm and voice all come together to build an authentic characterisation of our compressed narrator. 

When we go from hateful lines like this:  The gun is suddenly in my hand. I shoot her taunting, drug-ugly smile.   To a tender line like this: …and grasping the note as though I am holding him to me I weep, and weep and weep for my son. – the spectrum of emotion that is covered in such a short space of time is not only believable, but heartfelt. 

And given the brevity of this piece – a mere 371 words in length – a framed narrative is effortlessly interwoven, leaving no doubt as to the skill and craftsmanship that has gone into creating this wonderful story.

 

Highly Commended: Davy Jones’ Lock-up

Davy Jones’ Lock-up is a feast of language and voice – opulent and immersive, yet buoyant with underlying humour:

We donned our long clothes and strolled among the lubbers, the Captain drawing many stares on account of his fearsome appearance. It was his practice to thread black ribbons in his beard, with curious baubles and bibelots a-dangling therefrom.

At first glance it appears the story isn’t taking itself too seriously – the writer having too much fun – but the narrative is struck through with historical detail that betrays a deeper understanding of the material.  Marry this to the lively prose and you have a deceptively understated piece of writing, written by a very fine writer.

 

We now regularly receive several hundred entries each quarter, so those making the long and short lists should feel very proud.

 

Short Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

Au Revoir by Anita Goodfellow

Baby Talk by Claire Demaine

Blast from the Past by Michael Kirby

Bulls-eye by Michael Seese

Buried Souls by Sally Lane

Carousel by Katharine Orton

Cloud Cuckoo by Sharon Bennett

Come Again by Samuel Poots

Davy Jones' Lock-up by Steve Startup

Forked Tongue by Hazel Osmond

He Brought Me Orchids by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Likes by Vicky Savage

Maybe Next Time by Sheila Good

On by Jacqueline Winn

Sea Front by Ren Watson

Small Creatures by Catherine Edmunds

Swamp Monster by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

The Catch by Christine Griffin

The Chief Inspector's Report by John Simmons

The Phantom Tide by Michelle Green

The Picnic by David Coss

The Road to Glastonbury by Ian Burton

The Smell by Stéphanie Constans

Word Spittle by Julia Anderson

You Can Get Everything at the Retail Park by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

 

Long Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

Alive Audience by Lando Hilton

Au Revoir by Anita Goodfellow

Baby Talk by Claire Demaine

Blast from the Past by Michael Kirby

Brittle by Lydia C. Lee

Bulls-eye by Michael Seese

Buried Souls by Sally Lane

Carousel by Katharine Orton

Chosen by Gillian Brown

Cloud Cuckoo by Sharon Bennett

Come Again by Samuel Poots

Davy Jones' Lock-up by Steve Startup

Forked Tongue by Hazel Osmond

HB by Jennifer Harvey

He Brought Me Orchids by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Her Choice by Matthew Reynolds

Imago by Paul Nicholas

In the Café by Sherri Turner

Jam Roly-Poly with Custard by Dennis M. Skeet

Just the Thing by Christine Griffin

Likes by Vicky Savage

Local Wolf Found Dead in Soup Cauldron by Alison Clink

Lost by Sandra Crook

Maybe Next Time by Sheila Good

Neighbourliness by Stéphanie Constans

No Thanks by Jeanette Lowe

Notes on the Windy Mesa Proclamation by Laurence Davies

Off by Kathryn Weller

Old Feelings by John Bunting

Old News by Linda Walden

On by Jacqueline Winn

Oranges by Kaori Crawford

Poppa's Pride by Michael Twist

Sea Front by Ren Watson

Small Creatures by Catherine Edmunds

Swamp Monster by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

The Catch by Christine Griffin

The Chief Inspector's Report by John Simmons

The Phantom Tide by Michelle Green

The Picnic by David Coss

The Resistance by Riona Judge McCormack

The Road to Glastonbury by Ian Burton

The Smell by Stéphanie Constans

Today, Flowers from the Luftwaffe by Jane Roberts

Under Observation by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Under the Sea by Kaori Crawford

Undo the Past With Prose by Lucy Steele

Word Spittle by Julia Anderson

Yellowing by Elinor Smith

You Can Get Everything at the Retail Park by Ceri Lowe-Petraske