Guest judge Jack Cooper received your entries with thanks, and attacks the tough job of judging - read here...
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.
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.
Watch me drag and scrape,
decrepit, weak natterjack
short-legged failure of a disposition.
Distinctive gait through life.
Deformed awkward strut, in contract to the
hopping of my peers.
Declining stock prices.
Imposter. Imposter. Imposter.
Out of nowhere comes
sudden burst of hope
pile of life that overspilled
my platter seemed
Out of nowhere strikes
distant chorus of the dawn birds,
Scoop up, re-mould
Little globs of failure.
No one has shouted at me
For last week’s delays.
The world has not ended.
- Hour of Writes: Finnbar - it was both! :) Nice to see you
- Finnbar: Really hoping that "testing the site" was a real prompt and not a developer note about launch-testing an update :)
- Tsukuyomi: What inspiration is there left to draw from a declining world? A world where we are disconnected from the forces which guide our own celestial motion, through the dance that is life. What horror frames our days? What beauty can be found within these four walls? Are we no more than stunted shades, purchancing goods in order to fuel the void growing within all of our hearts? We must connect with nature, for nature to exist at all.
- writerBFHEKQSXJJ: Delighted to have won the last contest but confused re.not receving any other entries to mark and whether there is a prize as I haven't been contacted by HOW staff at all. Anyone else enter and not receive marking/emails re.marking?
- swatie: -1/3- outside the window are days full of my mother my father’s gardens he calls prints of Punjab like the pages of a yellow book, my mother's nameless youth was caged between book ends— mother, father, daughter, mother her mother’s phulkari hand spun subterfuges to release, a family heirloom -2/3- like a painting to complete, it took many strokes to cover our days, a languorous summer, fall, winter, summer sometimes in between, like estranged cousins, impish winds would come to play a lover’s story sweet sweet warbles, singers made to order Pigeon fliers even in two tight plaits I felt free -3/3- a sickly gaze from the bedside sometimes upholds the promises of an opulent life up and down and between the shadows taming a temperate sun’s impish play what can a sickly gaze spare after all? irreverent skies, or cheap ticket stubs to window romances? —as if pastiches of romeos and juliets and romeos even with my romantic hair I am caged chipped pieces of bargain scattered all over the window sill.
Last Week's Winner!
Winning entry by countenance
We are four in the parlour
Mabel, Marian, Elsie and I.
It is March 7, 1876, evening time.
and the gaslights communicate
their realities in mobile shadowed tones.
We are as tableaux vivants as I sign;
One word, three syllables.
All fingers and thumbs.
They give me;
As I charade my life's distraction
like a dog and bone.