Love And Music winner announced (below); professional pianist and songwriter Nick Gill swings by to offer his thoughts on the entries
22nd January 2015
I have no idea if I am qualified or at all justified in judging a creative writing competition, but I guess it's one of those dirty jobs that somebody has to do. Of course the main purpose of this ingenious website is to get people writing more regularly and in that task it seems to be succeeding admirably.
For my own reading I have tended to gravitate between the light touch of P.G.Wodehouse to the hard chiseled engravings of T.S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas. I hope therefore that this gives me some vague clue as to the merits of both the prose and the poetry that has been submitted this week under the heading "Love And Music".
One of Shakespeare's chaps had something deep to say about music being the love of food or something along those lines. Less familiar may be something Conrad writes - "love, though in a sense stronger than death, is by no means so certain... love of man, object, of ideas, of a fine art slowly matured in the course of years and doomed in a short time to pass away too and be no more."
As one of the last practitioners of classic jazz piano I can certainly appreciate how much love goes into acquiring a fine art, and any serious writer must feel the same way. Louis Armstrong once said that to be able to play you had to be able to love. Loving what you do is a way of transcending the forces of futility and death. Most of the writers this week have chosen a romantic version of love rather than some of the many other forms they could have adopted. No problem - what came through from all the entries was a love of writing as self expression, hands that dare to seize the Promethean fire of creativity.
So please keep writing and submitting your work to this rather good website. Don't worry if you haven't "won" - it's just a matter of who got to do the judging, deeply flawed human beings like myself. And the important thing is to keep writing and subjecting your work to your own critical judgement - that is the only way to improve as far I can see, whether you are a piano player or a writer. So as Eliot quotes in one of his "Four Quartets" -
"Not farewell but fare forward, travellers!"
The Winner - 439
Of all the excellent pieces of prose that were submitted, I found this little story carried me along with the most energy. The style is engagingly unpretentious and avoids heavy symbolism or dark hinted meanings. I liked the lightness of touch. There is subtlety in the characterisation of the student who sells the protagonist the flute, a character reminiscent of the mystical shop keeper in "Mr Benn"[ Ed. Classic British children’s 1980s TV].
The evocation of Indian landscapes contrasting with the bleak Scottish weather outside is achieved with the plausible device of flute music but has a hint of magic about it, a suggestion of parallel dimensions. Echoes of H.G.Wells' short stories here. I admire the twist at the end of the story where the far from magical sound of the flute brings a supernatural result.
Does the writer over play the use of love song quotations at the end? Possibly. But perhaps this device can be excused in the context of a story which juxtaposes the grim realism of a bleak windswept coastal town with hints of eastern musical mysticism. And what, if not a spark of magic, do people want from their songs?
Featured Entry 440
This prose poem ingeniously juxtaposes railway tracks with the tracks on a vinyl record. This device opens up a rich seam of extended metaphor. The distance between the lovers is represented by the railway tracks between them and ever-present danger of the freight train thundering through while the uneasy truce that exists between them while the record turns can be shattered by the needle being jarred from its groove by a random scratch.
Featured Entry 445
There were many fine poems submitted which used musical metaphors for love ingeniously with strong emotional impact. I chose this poem largely on the basis of the last two lines:
"Take me to the sea of living scales where I will
Leap like shining salmon arpeggios."
Ted Hughes eat your heart out!
Nick Gill 22nd Jan 2015
Nicholas Gill is a professional jazz piano player and songwriter.