First: Zoo by Lizzy Dening
Second: Banquet by Uta Coutts
Third: Little Red Wheelbarrow by Alicia Black
Click on the titles to read the three winning stories
Highly Commended: Runnin’ the River by Trish Nicholson
Judge’s Report for the second quarter’s competition 2010 from Jane Wenham-Jones
I thought the standard of the entries was very high. Although I do sometimes wonder why writers so often seem to feel the need to plunder the full depths of human misery whenever they enter a competition. Bleakness can make for memorable writing but when it's utterly unrelenting the finished piece may lack texture. The most successful writing has humour AND pathos, light AND shade etc. A little well-placed levity doesn't go amiss on occasion!
The eight that ended up in my short pile were put there because each had something extra. Use of language, an unusual idea or theme, something haunting or touching about the prose. For me, the acid test of a good entry is whether I remember it a couple of hours later. These were the ones that stayed with me.
Zoo by Lizzy Dening
Little Red Wheelbarrow by Alicia Black
Banquet by Uta Coutts
Runnin' the River by Trish Nicholson
The Visitor by Carly Pluckrose
Lament for Tommy Blaw by Douglas Bruton
Paper on the Lawn by Catherine House
Distraction by Faith Cobaine
And these are my final choices
This was a clear winner for me. It happened to be the first story I read and I thought then - I'll be surprised if I find anything better than this, and I didn't. This is such a clever piece. Impressive, tight, spare writing with wonderful use of language. Five snapshots of five lives which are insightful, visual and thought-provoking. So much packed into so little! Terrific! Can you tell how much I liked it?
I really liked this too. Vengeful feelings about ex-lovers is not a new theme but this was marvellously done. Again, I loved the original use of language and the way the writer manages to combine sensuality and menace into what is almost a dark, tense eroticism. Nice change of pace at the end. Very accomplished. This would have walked most competitions.
3rd: Little Red Wheelbarrow
I chose this for the unusual idea, the quality of the writing which was beautifully visual and its haunting quality. Good shock ending too. I was still thinking about that little boy some considerable time later. I must say I struggled with these last two places because both this and the next entry were both excellent but very different.
Highly Commended: Runnin' the River
Sometimes a story written entirely in the vernacular can become tiring to read but this one was in skilful hands. The writer has a good understanding of rhythm and a strong voice and there are some wonderful lines. I enjoyed the similes - "dumb as a box o rocks" and "jittery as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs." Had the standard of this competition not been so high, this would have been another winner.
The following stories, listed in alphabetical order, reached the shortlist stage of the second quarter's competition.
A Simple Tale of Boy Meets Girl
An End to the Pain
Break the Cycle
I Will Remember You
It Had To Be You
Lament for Tommy Blaw
Little Red Wheelbarrow
Paper on the Lawn
Runnin' the River
Smiles and Heartaches
The Dwindling Husband
The Happiness of Eddie Allgood
The Last Job
Zoo – 5 x 100 word stories