Winner of the UEA FLY Festival Short Story Competition 15-18 yr olds: Edward Darrall

Last week, we were once more privileged to be part of the UEA FLY Festival (Festival of Literature for Young people) and again supported the final event, a cracking POETRY SLAM with host Adisa and exceptional mentors in Tim Clare, Mark Gristo, Molly Naylor and Ross Sutherland. Thanks, too, to the kids from Stalham High School, Open Academy, King’s Lynn Academy and East Point Academy for reminding us that poetry is not a dead art to the young.

As in previous years, we co-judged the Short Story Competition with the inimitable Alexander Gordon Smith and festival organiser and author Antoinette Moses, who also wrote the story’s opening. It is featured in italics below followed by a very evocative and moving ending from the winner of the 15-18 age group, Edward Darrall (Diss High School). It speaks of a real talent

Praise, too, for Second Place winner William Johnson, also from Diss High School, whose multi-viewpoint story ending can be found here. Finally, a Honourable Mention must go to the runner up, Alexander Poulson.

The winners of the 11-14 year old age group will be featured on IS&T tomorrow.

 

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FLY Festival 2016 Short Story Competition:
First Place 15+ year olds: Edward Darrall, Diss High School

 

It was going to be a great day. One, there were no lessons as we were going to this festival thing at the university in Norwich, two, Mum seemed to be getting better, and three…

I didn’t get as far as three because the bus sort of juddered and made a noise like someone scraping their fingernails across a blackboard. And the driver said the word Mum says I mustn’t ever use. He swung the wheel to the left and, with a couple of bumps and more scraping sounds, it stopped.

‘Sorry, folks, it’s a puncture,’ said the driver. So our teachers got us out of the bus, with lots of sighing and looking at their watches, while he changed the wheel. We’d stopped in a narrow road with a long flint wall running along beside it. I was about to take a photo of the driver, who’d got very red in the face, when I noticed the door in the wall beside me.

‘Look at that,’ I said to Chris.

‘’Why would you make a door that small?’ he asked. ‘It’s weird.’

Then it swung open. Not wide open, just a crack.

‘Shall we..? I asked.

Chris grinned. The door opened almost before I touched it and immediately Chris and I were in this huge green field. Which is when an arrow thwacked past my left ear and landed in the wall. Which wasn’t flint anymore but wood.

‘What on earth?’ yelped Chris. We turned round to get away from whoever was shooting arrows at us, when we saw that the door had gone. Disappeared. It just wasn’t there. And that’s when we heard the shouts and heard the dogs and

…knew we were in trouble. Chris seemed to have frozen, his eyes open wide in horror. My eyes skimmed across the field, but I couldn’t see anything – just long grass. With a thud, another arrow embedded itself firmly in the ground at Chris’ feet. Whoever the attackers were, they seemed to be invisible.

I grabbed Chris’ arm and started running along the wall. He soon caught on and was sprinting, full pelt, beside me. In the distance, lining the edge of the field was a tangled mass of trees and thorny bushes. We were heading towards a small, black opening in the malicious looking barrier; our only means of escape from our attackers. I was less than ten metres from the forest when a third arrow struck Chris in the back. He made a small whimper as he fell. My hands were shaking as I bent down beside him. The back of his shirt was already soaked in bright red blood. I gently touched his face; his skin was pale and cold and his eyes were glazed. Mum had told me that I had to be strong, so I left him and crawled my way through the narrow opening and deep into enclosed woodland. I crawled until all the sounds of the dogs and the people had faded away and I was alone in the sickening silence, the pulsating darkness swelling around me. Then I curled into a ball and waited.

My heart was racing, beads of sweat stuck to my forehead. Daylight was unable to penetrate the knotted thorns and the gnarled tree trunks of the foreboding thicket. Talon-like brambles clawed at my back and scary faces glared at me from the blackness all around. I screwed my face up and forced my eyes tightly shut, but a small tear still found its way down my cheek and onto my chin, only to drip and land on my trousers. I wanted my mum. I remember her telling me that I was so very brave and that she loved me very much, but I was scared now. Really scared. I wanted her to be here with me. I wanted to be able to talk to her again. I wanted this all to be a dream, just a story, but it wasn’t. It was real.

I am back on the bus, tears glistening in my eyes. Chris is sitting next to me with his headphones on. The driver in front of me, eyes focussed on the road ahead. The bus moving happily forwards. In my lap is a notepad; basic ideas of stories scribbled down all over the paper. I’ve got to the bit where an arrow hits the wooden wall. But I can’t get mum out of my head. All my stories just quickly deteriorate and I start crying. I want to pretend that she’s well, but she’s not. The doctor says that she won’t get better. I shakily put the pen to the paper and start again.

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UEA FLY Festival Short Story Competition 2016: 2nd Place 15-18 yrs William Johnson

Perspective *

 

Thomas (the pupil)

It was going to be a great day. One, there were no lessons as we were going to this festival thing at the university in Norwich, two, Mum seemed to be getting better, and three…

I didn’t get as far as three because the bus sort of juddered and made a noise like someone scraping their fingernails across a blackboard. And the driver said the word Mum says I mustn’t ever use. He swung the wheel to the left and, with a couple of bumps and more scraping sounds, it stopped.

‘Sorry, folks, it’s a puncture,’ said the driver. So our teachers got us out of the bus, with lots of sighing and looking at their watches, while he changed the wheel. We’d stopped in a narrow road with a long flint wall running along beside it. I was about to take a photo of the driver, who’d got very red in the face, when I noticed the door in the wall beside me.

‘Look at that,’ I said to Chris.

‘’Why would you make a door that small?’ he asked. ‘It’s weird.’

Then it swung open. Not wide open, just a crack.

‘Shall we..? I asked.

Chris grinned. The door opened almost before I touched it and immediately Chris and I were in this huge green field. Which is when an arrow thwacked past my left ear and landed in the wall. Which wasn’t flint anymore but wood.

‘What on earth?’ yelped Chris. We turned round to get away from whoever was shooting arrows at us, when we saw that the door had gone. Disappeared. It just wasn’t there. And that’s when we heard the shouts and heard the dogs and I froze. Terror engulfed my muscles, brain, heart. Then the pain. I looked at the arrow lodged in my stomach. The barking slowed, Chris’ desperate screams became whispers. This must be what Mum felt like. I was afraid. So afraid.

 

Gavin (the driver)

Those bloody kids. Every day they screamed at each other, threw insults and disgusted me with their habitual ignorance. I always felt deeply sorry for their teachers, dealing with juvenile delinquents whose idea of joy is the latest console game. Their eyes flickering across the screen constantly as their undeveloped minds seek to interpret the pixels. As I say, kids angered me, and teachers earned my fullest regret and heartache. But as I stared inquisitively on the terrified face of Miss Sharpe, I myself feared the consequences for her and the missing boys.

The sun beat down maliciously on my shoulders, intense rays ricocheted off the flint wall and struck me. I decided to retreat into my bus.

“Can everyone line up, please?”

“Sarah, when did you last see them?”

“Will more of us be taken?”

“Nobody was taken!”

“Taken?”

Their exclamations were no longer audible as the bus doors shuddered shut and the air con kicked in. This was my private sanctuary. As I flicked my hoola-girl, and my mind wandered down the street, our original destination brought my fist slamming into the steering wheel. The university. My degree. My life had cascaded from its potential glory to this. This measly salary and ghastly hours. ‘Have a nice day’ remained the extend of my vocalisation while my impressive vocabulary lay suppressed in the reaches of my mind. Or maybe this was an excuse for my anger, and my pride sought to cover my inner terror for the missing children.

 

Narthorn (the bowman)

The outlanders have persisted in their sordid negligence of our designated boundaries for too long. I could not suppress my aggression any longer, discarding our passive nature, I did what was right, what would keep our village safe from their wrath. What I could not suppress was my inner fear; it consumed me like a virus. My bowstring quivered as my hand pulsated under the pressure of what might happen. The outlanders would never forget, the outlanders would never give in, the outlanders would want war. Their slain youngsters were only the beginning.

Beord could not keep his eyes from the gnarled corpses of the young ones; fibres of cloth swam on the gleaming scarlet that seeped from their wounds. Glancing at Beord again, I realised that he was tracing back the shaving of wood that was embedded in one of their finger-nails to the scratching on the wall. But their suffering, no matter how severe, could not detract from the significance of this event. War would find us, the outlanders would arrive in their masses and it would be our young who begged for salvation. I felt my arrows and ran my fingers down their acute tips. Let them come.
 

* The first part of this story, in italics, was written by festival organiser, author and competition co-judge Antoinette Moses. The title and decision to write it from three perspectives is, however, the brainwave of William and we salute his originality.

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And the Pick of the Month for May 2016 is… ‘Ghosted’ by Vicky Morris!

Vicky Morris’ ‘Ghosted’ clearly resonated with many voters to emerge as Ink Sweat & Tears’ Pick of the Month for May 2016.

Vicky writes poetry and short stories. She runs groups and projects for young writers. In 2013 she made the documentary – Dyslexic & Loving Words and in 2014 she won the Northern Writers Arvon Award.

She has asked that her prize of £10 be donated to a local Sheffield charity Cavendish Cancer Care.

 

Ghosted

It’s not like he’d planned to wake up
after 23 years of marriage,
to find the taps turned off,
everything dried out on the draining board,
no one checking the mains,
bulb gone in the hall,
the garden too barbered for its own good.

He laced up his quietest loafers,
grabbed some socks from the top drawer,
slid his passport from a copy of Punch,
loaded his toolboxes into the car.
While she stared at the TV she’d never watched before.
It’s plug without a fuse,
remote control in the drawer.

 

Voters’ comments included:

I love the simplicity of imagery – the quietness in the husband and wife after a long marriage. The feeling of isolation, separation and bleakness is palpable.

A sense of loss I’ve seen that really struck a chord with me

The imagery, words, and sense of raw emotion

Such a beautiful poem with very powerful words, I was moved after reading this!

accurately sums up a feeling which is almost impossible to explain. Very sensitive and clever

Beautiful, almost prose style, captures that peculiar feeling of grief that comes with middle age

It makes you curious about the bigger picture but with no need for further details.

poetic lucid view of domestic life and relationships at the end

It reminds me of a life I choose not to have

 

Comments on the rest of the shortlist:

Helen Calcutt, ‘Bird’

Such unusual images – so authentic and strong – a total commitment to language and an utter (and refreshing) absence of cliche. One of a very few poems I’ve read online in recent moths that would genuinely encourage me to seek out the author’s works.

Carrie Etter, ‘The Find’

Love the strange surrealness, feels almost like a mini-movie.

Brian Johnstone, ‘Pledge’

I felt like I knew what it was like to make that pledge.

Susie Wild. ‘In case…’

I liked the social commentary behind this poem, its dryness, and also the way it exposes the dislocation behind our ‘so-called’ connectivity.

Phil Wood, ‘Cardigan Bay’

Simple presentation of a strong image as well as the father/son interaction.

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Word & Image from IS&T Editor Helen Ivory’s ‘Hear What the Moon Told Me’ launching tonight

 

 

Forty colour plates in 45 pages with the text, as Graham Rawle puts it, ‘carefully teased from long-forgotten books and reconstructed with serendipitous aplomb’. A true celebration of the poetico-visual, Helen Ivory’s ‘Hear What the Moon Told Me’ is being launched tonight at Anteros Arts Foundation in Norwich and is available from Knives Forks and Spoons Press here.  And you can read a sample here

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Voting is Open for the May 2016 Pick of the Month!

 

Another month, another superb shortlist.

And we are always spoilt for choice.

Vote now for your Pick of the Month for May 2016.

Our shortlist of six is below (or see the ‘Vote for your May 2016 Pick of the Month’ in the Categories list to your right on the screen). These have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.

Voting is now closed.

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity*. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative.

 

(*Ink Sweat & Tears reserves the right to refuse certain charities if we feel they are too controversial.)

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And the Pick of the Month for April is…. ‘Palindrome Existence’ by Sarya Wu

We are very pleased to announce that the pick of the Month for April 2016 is Palindrome Existence from Sarya Wu.

Sarya is 20 year-old Taiwanese-American who currently attends the University of Edinburgh. During her free time, she does spoken word. Her other passions include physical theatre, Roller Derby, bin diving, and walking around aimlessly in a bear hoodie. Website: pourallyourheartout.wordpress.com

Sarya has asked that her prize be donated to the charity Beat.

 

Palindrome Existence

Sometimes when I feel alone,
So I find a clean bus stop to stand by and wait,
Perhaps the bus will remind me
Of where to go
Maybe it’s fate-

I contemplate.

Maybe it’s fate-
Of where to go
Perhaps I’ll know if I sit still
So for a sign of direction I take a look
Sometimes when I feel alone,

 

Voters’ comments included:

Because it’s an interesting format that makes the whole poem akin to that of a single word. Reading it backwards and forward gives it a very subtly different meaning.

The balance of words perfectly fit the theme of existing, which can’t help both looking forwards and backwards, like a palindrome

when i read that poem, her voice was ringing through my head uttering all the words. she’s one impressive spoken word artist :)

It’s simple and pure but involving. There just is something about traveling or contemplating on or about journeys that’s very cleansing… Great subject matter.

Felt like it was talking to me. Like it beautifully said some of my own feelings

…………

 

And on the rest of the shortlist:

 

Stuart Charlesworth, ‘But During the Medicine Round’

Immediate confidence in the voice. Love the feel/texture of the pills and the green arms/leaves the glorious vision of the field until the devastating threat waiting. Easy flowing language but a clever hesitancy using images – both sinister and oddly amusing.

 

Andrew McDonnell, ‘Me, Me, Me’

I love it; it does a nice line in disorientation.

original, surreal and sharp…

 

Ruth Stacey, ‘Mental Health Animals’

I saw (or felt) an implication that we are part of the whole world and simultaneously forcefully and voluntarily removed from it. I feel a calling in this poem and it aches like the stars in whatever that darkness represents.

 

Grant Tarbard: Review of Fates of the Animals by Padrika Tarrant

A fantastic book gets a deserving review, and written with love.

…lots of vigour

 

Marc Woodward, ‘Armstrong’s lost letter’

It’s original and elegant

Visually and poetically creative

 

 

 

 

 

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Vote! Vote! Vote! For your IS&T Pick of the Month Time for April.

Banish all thoughts of politics, enjoy the sunshine and set aside a few minutes to vote for your Pick of the Month.

Our shortlist of six is below (or see the ‘Vote for your April 2016 Pick of the Month’ in the Categories list to your right on the screen). These have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.

Voting has now closed.

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity*. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative.

 

(*Ink Sweat & Tears reserves the right to refuse certain charities if we feel they are too controversial.)

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