Competition Winners (April)

Wendy Pratt

Many thanks to all who entered our poetry/flash fiction competition for April based on the ‘signpost’ photo prompt (below). Our guest-judge, Wendy Pratt, thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries and had some tough decisions to make in selecting our winners, who will have their writing published on postcards (also featuring the image) which will be distributed at literary festivals and, eventually, be sold as part of a pack in our online shop.

‘I have found the judging of this competition incredibly hard. The over all quality was very high and each piece brought something new to the table. Themes included murder, abandonment, gym workouts, walking, rambling, friendship, love, parallel universes, demons, relationship breakdowns and life orientation in general! There were a great deal of similar titles about signposts, finding the way, losing the way, signposting the way and some very interesting forms. I was pleased to see some humour in amongst the entries, and some beautifully crafted rhymed poems too.

Congratulations to all who entered, you made my job very difficult.’

Wendy Pratt



The winner for flash fiction is Umpteenth Service by Sonya Oldwin. Wendy said:

‘Things I looked for in flash fiction entries were originality, use of language, and the ability to make a complete story in such a tight writing form. It was a very close call. Once I had whittled the entries down to just two or three possible winners I had to look closely at the pieces I had chosen and identify what made it work. Pieces like Linda Sprott’s Signpost I found myself rereading over and over, enjoying the uncomfortable and moving storyline, the shift from one time to another. Ed Broom’s First it was the Railings also kept me coming back, I found the use of dialogue as a means of telling a story very effective and could imagine the scene so clearly, the characters so clearly and the era so intensely; not a mean feat in such a short word count. But the winner, for me, was Sonya Oldwin’s Umpteenth Service. It not only captures the holiday destination beautifully, but the sense of emotional distance. I loved that there was humour in it too. The pace of the piece, the framing of the piece is very clever and, again, not easy in such a short word count. It was complete and contained and very enjoyable.’

Umpteenth Service

I’m alone, on a tennis court that fills with water the moment it rains, then doesn’t dry off for hours. The waves batter the beach. The sky’s forgotten it’s supposed to be blue. I practice my serve until I’ve smashed all the balls over the net. When I run out, I walk over and start again. Beats going back to our room

Before I hit each ball, I imagine it has Tony’s face. He’ll be drinking on our balcony – facing another hotel, not the ocean – with his friends. They’re revolting, his friends.

I’ve embarked on this trip with great expectations. Tony and I, alone on a romantic island – a new direction for our relationship. He didn’t mention his friends would be going at the same time. I’m trying to remember what I liked about Tony. It escapes me.

I throw another ball into the air. At least I’ll return with a killer serve.

Sonya Oldwin


The winner in the poetry category is The Way by Ann Cuthbert. Wendy said:

‘I looked for similar things in the poetry entries: originality, use of language and the feeling of a ‘complete’ poem. I also looked for skill with line breaks and where forms and rhymes were concerned, nothing overbearing, rhymes that felt right, not forced. There was a lot to choose from and it was so hard to whittle it down. Different poems held different winning components and the range of voices was beautiful to behold. Carole Bromley’s Two Roads stood out in particular for its rhythm and rhyme and the nostalgic, but not sentimental thought process which left me quite moved. Others of note were Valerie Morton’s Taking the Path to the River which had some gorgeous descriptions, the tug and pull of the water in her poem was so evocative, a very beautiful piece, and Sarah James’ unique and wonderful impressionist style poem La balançoire which captured me completely, using the layout to really evoke that constant and sudden capturing of a place and an event, it is beautifully done. I could go on and on about the poems that moved me. The winning poem, Ann Cuthbert’s The Way, was one that had everything I was looking for. The line breaks are beautiful, very skilled, the descriptions lifted my heart and the direct, no nonsense voice cut through any clutter to lift the poem up, higher than the sum of its parts. There is such wonderful use of language, the alliteration and internal rhymes are magical, and the undercurrent, the meaning and the depth of the poem is lovely. That last line: pilgrim, the legend is all yours’. Really sealed the deal for me.’

The Way

Just get up and go. Follow

the shells, the yellow arrows,

through still-dark streets.


Step on the trail as the sky streaks

with dawn. Mist wraps blue-black hills,

dew beads vine leaves, silvers


in runnels of ragged artichokes.

From ridges of red earth

a skylark lifts, singing.


There is no map. You draw it

as you walk. Look how far you’ve come.

Pilgrim, the legend is all yours.

Ann Cuthbert

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