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30th July 2017

My winner was Entry 2713 which explores a fascinating theme, has a pleasing rhythm and a wry ending. I found it strangely convincing, while being honed, interesting, and weird. My first Featured Entry, 2715, was a sad story which very effectively reflects the empty, emotionless world envisioned. The reference to fake news did take me momentarily out of the story, and ‘pretty pronto’ seemed out of place too, but overall, fascinating. My second featured entry, 2719, really evokes the bitterness of chronic pain and is in fact painful to read. Not sure what a pearl of pain is? Pork is a distracting simile that evokes a taste, although also evokes a sickly feeling, which fits.


To take a quick look at some of the other pieces, 2718 is a dream-like progression of anecdote, moving into spy thriller, moving into sexual fantasy into bizarre joke structure (Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman variety) - into super-truncated moral maze! An interesting and engaging fantasy, despite being a mosaic of genres. In Entry 2716, the author’s personality interjects intermittently (fugiting), into the gradual, smooth progression into fantasy, when unease springs up a little suddenly, as do the Harry Potteresque images. Sounds and sights are evoked with a vivid straightforwardness which is compelling, although perhaps evocative of slightly clichéd cinematic or TV images and the asides are perhaps slightly rushed. Entry 2714 has a great opening stanza with an authentic metaphor, although I was subsequently slightly confused by the scrubbing and ironing and circus animal metaphors. It’s a resonant theme for anyone who's been in a relationship. Entry 2717 had some memorable phrases, in particular: 'Rocks breaching the skin and hair' and 'Animals manage', but overall felt a little shoe-horned into the theme. 

Well done to everyone who entered, and thanks for the opportunity to judge 'Is It Real?'!





About the Judge


Born in 1971 in North Wales, James Evans took up the piano at age 6, clarinet at age 12 and sax at 16. James attended the jazz course at Leeds Music College. He graduated in 1993 and started touring Europe with Phil Mason's New Orleans All Stars.
In 1996 James left the Mason band to work freelance. He moved to London in 1998 and worked and toured Europe with, among others, the Boston Tea Party, Keith Nichols Cotton Club Orchestra, Sammy Rimington, Chris Barber, and Alan Barnes. James also played rhythm and blues with Angela Brown and the mighty 45s and the New Orleans style R & B Ginger Pig Band.

Whilst in the UK, James ran four groups of his own: James Evans New Orleans Wizards, James Evans Incredible String Four, Rocket Five, and James Evans Octupal Odyssey, which featured James' own compositions, and played many festivals across the UK.
In February 2013 James moved to New Orleans to pursue his lifelong love of the city and its music. Since his arrival he has played with many local luminaries such as Leroy Jones, Steve Pistorius, Seva Venet, Lucien Barbarin, Tim Laughlin, Gerald French, Duke Heitger, Lars Edegran, The Shotgun Jazz Band, Smoking Time Jazz Club, Tuba Skinny, and many more.

My Notes