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Editorial

18th September 2018

Deciding on a theme for Hour of Writes is a tricky business. It must be precise enough to inspire writers to create pieces with clear connections to the theme, but broad enough that each entry will be unique. Of all things Attack And Receive could have been inspired by, it came from a playing card in the franchise that dominated my childhood: Yu-Gi-Oh. With such an aggressive phrase, I was hoping for war, embittered couples, and intrigue. I was delighted to find all this, alongside some whimsy.

I was immediately drawn to Entry 3155, which explores a situation too many of us will be familiar with. It reminds us that those who suffer from violence often turn to violence, that this cycle is not easily broken. Entry 3155 also shows that there can be a lot of power in simple language.

Entry 3160, Red Poppy Boy (gets what’s coming to him), has a lovely rhythm that drives the reader through a story of addiction and consequence. This can be seen especially in the second stanza, with: ‘an A1 stealer / all state receiver / a total syringe believer’. Successfully employing rhythm always makes a poem more compelling.

With Entry 3163, we see a regular structure and rhythm used to great effect. The images were very vivid, essential for communicating a story with such a degree of movement and as many changes in scene. I particularly enjoyed the shift in scale in: 

‘Zipping through the midges and the dragonflies / We crest the spikes and fall into a murderous scrum’,

making the poem more dynamic and cinematic. 

For me, Entry 3159 was the obvious winner. Gentle and concise, the piece takes us ‘inch by inch’ through a race. The poem is dense with imagery, and it is a credit to the author that they evoked such a strength of feeling in me with so few lines. I keep returning to: 

‘The last water gone / Like legs / with nothing left / except blisters, cramp, / tiredness beyond enduring’

drawn by its subtlety of rhythm and simplicity of language.

Thank you to everyone who entered. Judging this competition was a wonderful excuse to sit down, have a cup of tea, and immerse myself in varied poetry and prose. You each responded to the prompt differently, making this process an absolute pleasure. I hope you all continue to write great work for Hour of Writes, and for yourselves.


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About The Judge

Jack Cooper works at the University of Oxford, in a laboratory that uses the sexual courtship of fruitflies as a model to understand core features of development and behaviour. His poetry has been longlisted for the National Poetry Competition, and shortlisted for The New Poets Prize and Segora Poetry Competition amongst others. Stephen King, Final Fantasy, and K-Pop are the great loves of his life.

You can find him on Twitter at @JackCooper666, and on Instagram at @JackCooper0696


Ephemera

You have nothing to lose?
Is there really a risk?
Down on your knees, heaving, sick.

Gasps of dank breath,
no toothpaste, no strength.
Risk going out?
Risk staying in.

Crawling through life,
crippled with debt.
Emotional, physical,
historical regret.

You’ve already lost it all.
Is there really a risk?
Nothing left to give,
but frustration’s lament.

Not giving up,
not giving in,
lyrics meant to strengthen them.

Weakening you fall again,
nothing to lose,
nothing to give.

There is only one thing left.
Resolve, however weak.

Here lies the risk.

Lose that crumb, that penny, that speck.
Truly lose it all.

No matter how dark.
How small.
How thin.
Must not give up.
Must not give in.


Recent ShowNotes


Praise… Of… Risk

Last week's competition

Last Week's Winner!

Winning entry by writerBFHEKQSXJJ
You have nothing to lose?
Is there really a risk?
Down on your knees, heaving, sick.

Gasps of dank breath,
no toothpaste, no strength.
Risk going out?
Risk staying in.

Crawling through life,
crippled with debt.
Emotional, physical,
historical regret.

You’ve already lost it all.
Is there really a risk?
Nothing left to give,
but frustration’s lament.

Not giving up,
not giving in,
lyrics meant to strengthen them.

Weakening you fall again,
nothing to lose,
nothing to give.

There is only one thing left.
Resolve, however weak.

Here lies the risk.

Lose that crumb, that penny, that speck.
Truly lose it all.

No matter how dark.
How small.
How thin.
Must not give up.
Must not give in.

Featured Entry

by Maxi
Dawn was breaking as I started the car. I had twenty empty bags on the back seat. The sun was peeping up from a grey horizon creating an amber arc.  The sigh of it warmed me and splashed strength on to my wounded heart.  Slowing down at the zebra crossing at the bottom of the road I sawLance, the postman and it struck me as I watched him drop his bag and run up the driveway of number seven that I had not cried this time.  This time my overwhelming feeling was of relief.   Lance had muscles on the back of his legs that were as taut as those of a dancer in Riverdance. Through my open window, I could hear him whistle as he flew through his quotidian routine.  I drew away from the crossing and pushed my sunglasses up further on my nose.   No, I had not cried this time. Maybe it was because it was one betrayal too many, maybe because I had grown tired of being constantly crushed, discouraged and sneered at, or, it could have been the constant diet of derision.   There were bundles of twine-tied newspapers in the doorway of the newsagents.  Two of the staff was on the footpath, their upturned faces catching the first of the sun’s rays as they waited for admittance. They were oblivious to a young man with a ‘stag party’ tee shirt and blue shorts tied to a lamppost nearby. His companion also wearing the identical tee was holding on to the lamppost as he puked every ten seconds.  The missile containing the former contents of his stomach was shaped like a dialogue bubble in a comic strip as it soared over his head momentarily before landing at his feet where it now resembled a map of Jamaica.  One more left turn and I saw the apartment we had shared for seven years.  Tall and stately it had been built at a time when Ireland had a more distinct class divide.  I waited to see if your car was there.  It wasn’t. I waited to see if your neighbours were awake. They weren’t.   I opened the door for the last time with my keys. Slowly I filled the bags I had brought with me.  My entire wardrobe, my harmonica, my photos, my DVD's, my scrabble game, my thesaurus, my crossword books, my cd’s my remembered kisses and the last few years of my life filled them to the brim.  It took me forty minutes to clear the room that was once a sanctuary into a vacuum.  When my work was done I packed the car closed the door and pushed my keys in through the letterbox, and drove away onto the open road of my life savouring the risk I had taken.  It was so…worth it.   At the florists I chose a bouquet of twelve pink roses.   The assistant asked if I’d like it delivered.  I said ‘Absolutely’ and welcomedthe future.  
My Notes