- Wendy Greeff – The Tasking
- Nikky Olivier – Puppy Love
- Wendy Greeff – The Exam
- Fran Weerts – I See You
- Brian Swart – Love’s Lonely Lane
- Sanabelle Ebrahim – Lovers’ Swansong
Highly commended: Jenny Young – The Rising Sun
Nikky Olivier – On Sonnets
Judge’s Report – Flash Fiction
ADJUDICATOR: MICHELE WRIGHT
Thanks to the South African Writer’s Circle for inviting me to read these works, and kudos to the dedicated writers who have taken the time to put pen to paper.
As with any craft, writing improves with practice, so the more we do it the better we become, apparently…
With regards to the topic, first love came across quite well (clearly this is fondly remembered). I was surprised that there were instances where domesticity sunk into the realms of boring. Yes, we all detest chores, but as writers we need to be able to wring the most out of all moments and turn them into magic. Even if we are touching on the day-to-day basics, I think it is important our writing has an emotional, honest and rich purpose. How we achieve this is up to the individual.
I like to pull things apart and mix it up a bit. When you put the pieces back together again, you have a whole new perspective. Your starting point is different, a little more interesting, and slap-bang in the middle of things. It’s called a hook for a reason.
Now take it a step further. Challenge yourself and let the story resonate with its own power.
Most importantly, have some fun – it’s your creation and your art form.
The Tasking – Agent X (WENDY GREEFF)
This was a well-written story and you did a particularly skillful job at breathing life into your antagonist. The back story unfolds piecemeal so we can start to see the bigger picture and come to understand what has led the main character to where she is at the moment. This is done at a good pace, without inundating the reader with too much information up front.
I battled a little with the school setting. You mention that the parents are there for their kids, and yet they are planning on escaping to another country, and (presumably) leaving them behind? Maybe that point needs to be clarified, as it could “change” their characters – they go from being loving parents trapped in an awful situation (we have a sympathetic view of them), to adults fleeing and leaving “orphans” behind (we care less about what happens to them).
In the same vein, we are meant to empathise with the protagonist, but to my mind she comes across as a little flippant about Nick’s wife’s death – we don’t really get a look into her emotions. Maybe we should get a little more of an insight into her personal feelings, her fear that it could all go wrong?
Judge’s Report – Poetry
The Sonnet is a 14-line poem of rhyming Iambic Pentameter with strict formal patterning.
The word Sonnet derives from “son”, a diminutive of song, from the Latin, sonus, (sound). Its beginnings were Italian writers but the form was enthusiastically adopted by English poets. Although known for being about love, it has been used politically and for religious praise, as well as to express despair.
Despite the 14-line limitation, there is a turn known as a Volta that divides the sonnet into two. This introduces a dynamic of change, which challenges the poet to express an emotion/proposal and then to provide a resolution or answer. The Volta is essential to the dramatic conclusion of the sonnet.
The best known sonnet poets are William Shakespeare, Gerard Manly Hopkins, John Clare, Dante and Petrarch.
I have had the honour of judging many poetry competitions including: Haiku, Ballad, Limerick and humour but I must admit that this sonnet competition has been the most difficult. I congratulate everyone who entered and everyone who read, understood and followed the rules (which was all of you). My choice of 1st place was easy but after that, it became more difficult. I have done my best to judge fairly and hope that the individual critiques will help you perfect your writing. I must stress the importance of reading your poetry out loud as your own ears will pick up anything that jars or sounds wrong.
In conclusion, I refer you to further reading suggested by my own personal reference book—”The Poetry Tool-kit: The Essential Guide to Studying Poetry”. Author—Rhian Williams. Of course, there is always “Google”, where anything and everything is available.
Congratulations to the winners and good luck to all of you in the next competition.
1st PLACE: I SEE YOU by: Amelia Miller (Fran Weerts)
This sonnet is the outright winner as the poet has read, followed the rules and written a
flawless love sonnet. The last two lines (Volta) is perfect. Congratulations.
Pen-name: Irene Emanuel