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This week's title is This Is Classified. The final entry time this week is 11pm (UK time) 21st September 2018. Predicted prize fund is £50!

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

'It's classified, I could tell you
but then I'd have to kill you'
but he's no Tom Cruise
as he swaggers round the bar
thinks he's the big I am.

He takes a call, finds a quiet
corner where he hunches
looks up every few seconds
to check if anyone's watching
because he wants them to watch.

'Every message I get on this device,'
he says to the woman by the bar
that he thinks the most gullible
'every message is encrypted
with military grade security.'

When her boyfriend returns
he snarls as if to say:'I'll get my own
back on you later, mate'
but he'll be sitting alone in the park
eating a greasy kebab

Out of a newspaper with words
that he doesn't understand
that takes a political stance
that he neither rejects nor accepts
because his views are classified.













Attack… And… Receive

Last week's competition

Featured Entry

by Alex Fleet
“So hit him back” my Dad said.

I didn’t fancy that idea.

But I was fed up with picked on by Grimes, the tall boy with the pimples and the grey skin like he’d escaped from the graveyard. I suspected the mud on his shoes was from his very own grave.

So, the next day, I faced up to him.

“He’ll respect you for it” Dad said. “You hit him back, he’ll not do it again. Neither will anyone else, they won’t fancy being hit, either.”

Dad’s words seemed far away as I looked Grimes in the eye. He was tall, I was small. I felt even smaller than usual.

His eyes had a strange expression in them, amusement, slight interest.

“So what you looking at?” he said to me, half sideways to his cronies who smirked and stared me in the eye, in a small circle.
Between their sweaty heads I could see the rest of the playground, life carrying on as usual, ignorant of my little world crowded in here amongst these humid beings.

What would Dad say now? So, “You, I guess”, I replied to Grimes.

“You guess? You couldn’t guess your way out of a paper bag.”

Grimes continued mumbling, inconsequential meanderings, the cronies sniggering at his non-clever comments.

Tedious.

Then, the inevitable “So do you know what I’m going to do to you now?”

Whether I answered yes or no was of little consequence.

I decided I would let him hit me first. After all it was wrong to be the one to hit first.

But, I also decided, on the spur of the moment, that I was fed up with being hit.

So I hit him.

I hit him as hard as I could, the way they do in the action films, arm flung back, then follow through on the forward swing with my full weight, crack into the jaw. My fist exploded with pain and for a moment his eyes registered surprise. Then, he laughed. He had not been thrown back through the window of the classroom to fall to the ground two storeys below, outside beyond the shattered glass. He had not even fallen backwards. He had not even given me the satisfaction of just slightly rocking on his feet.

He just looked at me.

Not moving.

He was going to hit me.

So I hit him.

Again.

And still he stood there, no reaction. There was no satisfying blood, no terrifying crack of bone.

He was really going to hit me now.

So I hit him again, and again.

I rained blows against his head. He chuckled. His bony chin, his pointed nose, were sharp on my soft fist. My little, soft fist burned and my knuckles shrieked in pain.

I stopped, breathing hard.

He was going to kill me.

No.

He turned to his cronies. He said, “Did you see that, boys?”

They grinned and nodded their heads, silently.

“He attacked me. He shouldn’t have done that, should he boys?”

They grinned and nodded their heads, silently.

No, he was not going to kill me.

No, not him.

He was walking away, hands jauntily in pockets.

I was left alone, facing the cronies.

He didn’t need to hit me, with his cronies there. He didn’t need to dirty his hands, with his friends to do the dirty work for him. His own delicate hands would remain undamaged.

They, his friends, his sweaty friends, advanced towards me.

That’s the last time I take my Dad’s advice.

Last Week's Winner!

Winning entry by runner duck
A slope they called it
But they weren't running were they.
On and on
Up and up

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

inch by inch
lamp post by lamp post
until the road levelled
and a sea breeze
cheered as beautifully as the crowd.

So I attacked
with all my 'I can do this'
as the line began to call
and I received a medal

The Great North Run
To die for …......
My Notes