6th October 2016
The winner! In the way of dress-shopping, I started at the beginning and read all the short-listed entries in the order presented and then ended up choosing the one I saw first - No. 2120.
Although quite long compared with other entries, it held my interest all the way through. I loved the way it was structured, with the name of the narrator’s next fling starting the paragraph about the relationship. ‘Caroline’ added something different in the mix which I felt was needed at that point, and the unexpected pregnancy occurred at the right time too so the reader didn’t have time to get bored with the seemingly never-ending stream of lovers. It was funny and insightful and flowed well throughout. A couple of times I thought I had worked out how it would end but I was wrong, and I’m glad I was wrong. The ending was satisfying as the young woman had clearly been searching for something and now felt she had found it with a kindred spirit.
Featured entries – both very strong contenders for first place
No. 2109 is a simple poem which says rather a lot about each person mentioned in it. The hurt of the boy who was picked last for sport, the mother who said it out loud, his classmates who laughed and the father who played the field in more ways than one. There is a real skill in bringing so much characterisation so concisely into a short poem. I think to try to have expanded it, or to have felt the need to explain further, would have taken off the sad edge that it had from beginning to end.
No. 2125: I loved this right from the first line. We hear a lot about Baby Boomers and I was interested to see how this would relate to Playing The Field. I had a feeling it wasn’t just going to be about having lots of boyfriends, and I am so glad it wasn’t. It went from a fast-forward reminiscence of a life lived expecting to ‘have it all’, to a soberer reflection of what she had actually had. When it is revealed that bereavement has set her free, she is old enough to see what choices she has now, and how the simple ones can be just as valuable as the life-decisions she made in the 1960s, and how they can be so liberating after years of being ‘hemmed in’ by social norms.
About the judge
Annie Weir is owner/manager of her own training company IVITA Learning. She published her first novel, 'Judith Wants to be Your Friend' this year, which traces the denouement of a 36 year old woman set on socialising, but with secrets to keep... Annie says the inspiration for the novel was a writing exercise during her MA in Creative Writing.
She lives in Cumbria with her husband and cat, and enjoys playing tennis, watching cricket and listening to The Archers.