Competition Results

Short Story 2018 Results

NOTE – THE WINNING STORIES AVAILABLE HERE

Organiser’s Report

It is always a pleasure to read through the stories that so many people decide to send, in the hopes that their little pieces of inspiration will gain the light and recognition that they deserve. The quality of many entries deserved such recognition, though it has to be mentioned the importance of reading the rules for any competition, which sadly some people fell afoul of this year (don’t put your name on every page of an anonymous entry!).

We had stories about every topic going – romance, war, shopping, robots, babies, time travel, chocolate and many more. Entries came from Germany, France, and Spain as well as a good concentration from the south of England. Of course, shortlisters can only go so far, and any love they have for particular favourites in the sifting has to be put aside for the final judge to have her say. We were fortunate this year to have an award winning novelist join us and we respect her final opinions.

Chief Judges Report – Carys Bray

It is not especially hard to decide whether a story is enjoyable and satisfying – as readers, we do this all the time. It is, however, hard to take a group of satisfying and enjoyable stories and pick a winner. I recognise that another judge, on another day, may have looked at these stories and placed them in a different order. The stories below intrigued and surprised me, and I enjoyed reading each of them.

1st Place: Peace and Quiet by Louise Wilford

First place goes to this well-written and intriguing short story that invites an active, interrogative response from the reader and concludes with an enjoyably sinister twist.

2nd Place: The Spae Wife by Julie-Ann Rowell

Second place goes to this evocative, historical short story that makes beautiful use of sensory language and explores themes of prejudice and judgement in an isolated community.

3rd Place: Closer to the Edge by Robert Kibble

Third place goes to this tense short story in which the writer examines the line between cruelty and humour while achieving a satisfying combination of action and introspection.

Highly commended: Equinox by Marianne Whiting

This highly commended historical short story explores themes of shame and sacrifice, reaching a powerful, understated conclusion.

Commended: The Angel and the Bridge by Norman Kitching

This commended story empathetically tackles big themes: guilt, betrayal and the kindness of strangers.

Commended: The Real Fake News by Paul Barnett

Resonant and timely, this commended short story contains some lovely images and has echoes of Orwell’s 1984.

2018 Poetry Results

To read the winning poems, Click Here

Organiser Notes –

Another year, another set of difficult decisions. In the role of Chief Judge we were graced by the talented and prolific Alison Chisholm, whose opinion is very much respected in the world of poetry (and is also an ex-member of SWC!). The International part of the competition did not fail to surprise us again, with entries from France, Germany, and South Africa. The shortlisting was a hard process with so many excellent entries, but somehow we got it down to the final filter of twenty or so. The downside of an anonymous system also struck, as the 1st Prize winner also turned out to be the Humour Prize winner. I’m sure you will agree though, that both poems are worth of taking the prizes, as well as the 2nd 3rd and Commendeds. For those who did not make the final cut, we hope to see your work again next year, as in such a tight competition, anyone could swing it next time!

Judges Report from Alison Chisholm –

My big problem was with the humour section.  The hilarious pieces were badly crafted.  The beautifully crafted pieces weren’t funny.  I’ve ended up picking a poem that has some wry touches of humour among pretty dark layers, and is without doubt the best contender for a humour prize.  The results, then, are:

 

Humour

Your Call is Important to Us

by David Mark Williams

The repetition and delicious images work well, and while there is clear humour in the recognisable frustration of the repeated announcement, there are neat undercurrents to show this is not just a poem about an annoying phone call, but has a much deeper significance.

 

First Prize

Insomnia Soliloquy

By David Mark Williams

Anyone who has ever spent a sleepless night will identify with this poem.  It uses imagery with precision, and it’s an object lesson in how to craft a free verse poem in which slant rhyme and lineation are applied beautifully.

 

Second Prize

The Curse

By Elizabeth Horrocks

Another free verse poem, this takes an original subject and clothes it in finely crafted free verse.  The route from innocence to Mammon is charted perfectly.

 

Third Prize

Allowing the Light

By Sheila Aldous

This piece, written in response to a recent tragedy, can hardly fail to touch everyone who followed the story.

 

Highly Commended

Cold Egg

By Jenny West

This brilliant evocation of family life is image-rich and enormously appealing.  The only thing wrong with the poem is its lack of punctuation, which is such an important factor in the poem.

 

Commended

Edges of Autumn

By Lynne Taylor

 

On This Summer Day

By Sue Kauth

 

The Edge of Alderley

By Elizabeth Horrocks

 

Clacton 1967

Susi Clare

 

Short Story 2017 Results

For Winning Stories Click Here

Organisers Report

This year’s standard of entries was just as high as previous ones and our shortlisting team had real trouble filtering out the best for Joanne to peruse. The most common theme this year was ‘Divorce’ which was a new one for us, but the perennial ‘Ghost story’ showed its face more than a few times in the literary mix. Globally, entrants were fairly spread out, with France, Spain and New Zealand being represented this year and also a small story from the Isle of Skye.

Every entry though had a different idea as to what was a good story and many of them were exactly that, however, as ever, the massed ranks of creativity were whittled away to leave us with but a scant handful of winners. Well done to them and to everyone else who entered.

Those who did not make the cut, we encourage you to keep trying, as one day it could be you on that ethereal winner’s podium claiming a prize for your excellent writing.

 

Judges Report – Joanne Reardon

First Prize: Giving Him Back – Valerie Bowes

Understated and assured writing which pulls the reader into a world where nothing is quite as it seems.  Three children spending an unremarkable day at the beach building sandcastles and playing football are disturbed by a young child who has wandered into their space.  When the eldest child, Mara, tries to return him to his family she finds that this simple task is not as easy as she imagines.  This is a gentle ghost story just strange enough to undermine our expectations but familiar enough to imagine ourselves in the same predicament. It does what all good short stories do and captures a whole lifetime in an instant and although the reader has to work to get to the final twist in the story, the trouble is worth it. The writer creates an engaging and believable world full of longing and regret.

Second Prize: Hara-kiri       – Richard Stephenson                         

Another story where a familiar world becomes something completely unexpected and the reader is shaken out of complacency into a world altogether darker and more unsettling. The writer paces the narrative with care starting by establishing the familiar banality of office life where spreadsheets and data are analysed in detail and where one badly misjudged decision can bring down a corporation. So far, so familiar, but our sense of equilibrium is challenged by events in the story and the elegance of Japanese ritual combines with British stiff upper lip to take a dark turn, which lingers in the reader’s mind long after the story has ended.

Third Prize: Old – Marcia Woolf                                                                                       

This was a moving story where moment by moment emotions find themselves poised on a knife’s edge as though one wrong word or move could break the carefully wrought tension.  This matches the content and tone of the story which takes place in the aftermath of a funeral where long held secrets remain stubbornly unresolved. Despite the final confrontation between mother and son being a little too predictable which tends to lessen the tension overall, the story nevertheless has credibility and honesty which would easily connect with a reader.

Highly Commended: Stranger, Stranger – Robert Kibble                                          

Nothing is quite as it seems in this story where a parent’s worst nightmare is realised as a child disappears in the London Underground.  There are some good narrative decisions here – the first person narrative voice creates genuine warmth and honesty and the use of the immediate present holds the reader in the grip of the narrator’s fears. Bringing in a second first person narrative does slightly undermine the control of the narrative, it being hard to convince of two personal stories in such a short space of time, but genuine promise in the writing here all the same.

Commended:

If Walls Could Talk – Pamela Trudie Hodge,

Parka Billy – Juliet Hill