Winners – Ballad
1st: Awande Mabaso – (NOTE: This entry was disqualified).
2nd: George de Beer – I Dream’t I climbed a Mountain
3rd: Angelique Pacheco – Dreamscape
Winners – Flash Fiction
1st: Buckle Up, by Candice Wedermann
2nd: A Bitter Pill to Swallow, by Julia McInnes
3rd: The Mangled Valentine’s Day Heart, by Lynne Savy
Highly Commended: We Belong, by Anne Harbinson
Judge’s Report – Ballad
It is always an honour for me to judge poetry, in all its forms, as it is both a challenge and a hope that I will find an amazing entry that shines out above the rest.
The term “BALLAD” is derived from the Latin word “BELLARE” meaning to dance, which implies music and rhythm. It is a poem, originally sung, that uses regular rhythms and rhymes to tell a story. By using simple repetition and rhyme, the memory is helped to remember complex and colourful cultural history. By using refrains or choruses, it was possible to impart daily news of death, horror, love, corruption, defeat or victory to the far corners of the country. A travelling minstrel’s job was to deliver news by song, thus engaging the population with melodious commentary on current issues; as well as reminding people of historic events. This arrangement produced a narrative poem told in compact dramatic scenes with simple dialogue and concrete imagery plus a catchy refrain or chorus.
There are two types of ballad: a folk or popular ballad, and a literary ballad. Either one of these formats tells stories such as Samuel Coleridge “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or John Keats “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.” There were many unknown stories that occurred back in ancient times but these have been lost. “The Oxford Book Of Ballads” edited by J. Kinsley (1969), provides many examples for further reading.
There were nine entries, in this competition, and I applaud all the entrants who made the attempt. Unfortunately, only one entrant read, understood and applied the given instructions so, by virtue of this compliance, first place is awarded to:
Please read your individual critiques for comments which, I hope, will help and encourage all the entrants to try again but to also read what is required before plunging in.
Judge’s Report – Flash Fiction
I’ve read and re-read these entries and FINALLY narrowed them down to the three top stories and a highly commended. So difficult! The story We Belong was excellent apart from the final sentence which was a bit mangled and made it read as though the wrong person fired the gun. Otherwise it would have been a definite place.
In a couple of them I couldn’t resist suggesting changes – hope the writers don’t take that amiss.
When you give sixteen writers three hundred words to play with, they certainly come up with an interesting miscellany of stories.
The three elements of a taxi, an old enemy and Valentine’s Day produced some really inventive and varied pieces. Without exception, these all made for good reads. Choosing only three winners was almost impossible, so many were nearly there.
Surprisingly, the word Valentine’s Day triggered several murders or attempted murders, and revenge. In fact, the three winning stories, as well as the Highly Commended, all included a sticky end of some sort, inspired by the mention of an old enemy, I suppose. And drama is always fun to write and makes for a sharp story.
But there were some with romantic themes: Picture Perfect; My Valentine; A Valentine Moment; A Taxi, an old enemy and Valentine’s Day. These all hinted at love and romance to follow.
There was a journey into the future with sci-fi (Destiny’s Taxi) and back in time to Hitler’s bunker (A Bitter Pill to Swallow). There was a good twist (Any day can be Valentine’s Day) and a fantasy (The Trevi Excursion). All interesting and original developments of the theme.
Although everyone kept to the strict 300-word count, I was struck by how so many included superfluous words and phrases which could have been omitted, freeing up space to add layers to the characterization or background. This wouldn’t mean that it read as though it had been written in shorthand… words could still flow well but leave out the fluff!
On the other hand, some of these stories would expand well and turn into 1000-word stories which could be subbed for financial reward to magazines – always a good thing – or to websites which accept short stories. Although there is no pay with most of these, there is great satisfaction in seeing your work up there for thousands to read, and many of them have useful and constructive feedback from readers. (I’m thinking www.shortbreadstories.co.uk or http://www.eastoftheweb.com although there are hundreds more).
SA WRITERS’ COLLEGE
SAWC FEBRUARY 2018 FLASH FICTION COMPETITION: 1st PLACE
Loved this! From the moment she says that she’s rehearsed what she’ll say when she sees him again, we know this chick is going to retaliate in some way for this asshole’s misbehaviour. Murder is a good way to do this! It’s well planned and business-like and very effective with the help of (presumably) her present boyfriend who is the taxi driver. Good title and an excellent use of 300 words.