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26th September 2017

It is both an honour and a torment to judge this week’s pieces for Hour of Writes, which present such impressively diverse interpretations of the topic ‘Paths More Travelled’. I was expecting to be confronted with depictions of the monotonous every day and the grand yet familiar universal human themes of love and death, which transcend our differences, repeating among us all continually, making us relate to one another and our never ending human connectedness. I enjoyed the evocation of this in many of the pieces, which dealt not only with paths repeated by individuals within the piece but also appealed by recalling those paths travelled by all people, again and again.

There were many pieces that struck a chord with my own paths. Entry 2804 for example, had me swaying to my rhythmic, twice-daily commute on the London underground, and Entry 2802 aroused a familiar annoyance with tourists. Similarly, the monotony of Entry 2810 took me right back to my days as a checkout girl – although I must say I was never threatened at knifepoint.

Some pieces, such as, Entry 2803, brought an unexpected lightness to the subject ‘Paths More Travelled’, which pleasantly surprised me, and had me pondering the importance of subtleties beyond shared pain and inevitable death – that of living alongside other people, sharing in communal song, work and mischief.

My favourite three entries, however, held a significance of the repetition of human life, within individual lives, and echoed through family and beyond in our shared histories.

Entry 2807 is a familiar story of cultural and familial rebellion, which explores bonds between women. In particular, that of the mother and daughter, who mirror one another and express love and sacrifice beyond the bounds of patriarchal restriction. Further, that of a queer relationship between women. The path continues to be travelled beyond the confines of the piece, as Ani and her mother flee, treading the well-known line between freedom and retribution.

Perhaps my favourite line of all the entries lies in Entry 2809: “Did we ever find enlightenment?/ Perhaps not .../ But it was fun trying”. This piece is lighter than my other two favourite entries, although I think it strikes at the common quest for an enlightened understanding of our human existence. The internal contemplative dialogue expresses the struggle to find that which has been sought forever, and will be, but which is never found: the meaning of life.

My winning entry is Entry 2808, which explores instances of ‘Paths More Travelled’ repeatedly on different sites; continual pleasure is firstly felt on the site of the protagonist’s own body through masturbation, then through casual sex with person after person, before it is caught on repeat with the same person time after time. I myself found pleasure in the honest universality in the story of heartbreak, rejection, aloneness, ageing and ultimate content in death.

Thank you to all entrants – an enjoyable read from all!

About the Judge

Rohan Natashka Kon is the Campaign Coordinator for an educational union. She enjoys politicised identity fictions, such as queer jewish and feminist sci-fi "women's writing" and fictions of geographical and psychological migration. Outside her day job she campaigns on queer feminist issues and renters' rights. She spends most of her time learning how we build long-lasting people power. 

My Notes