And the ‘Pick of the Month’ for July 2015 is Kinga Fabó

We are very pleased to announce that Kinga Fabó’s Not Because It’s Chic is the voters’ choice for the IS&T Pick of the Month for July. Kinga has asked that her prize be donated to Age UK

 

Not Because It’s Chic

 

Here I have a place
where I can be sad.
I adore it. I adore it.

I exist only in roles.
I want colors! Colors!
Just as above me the sky is always blue.

Not because it’s chic. Not because of that.

 

………………….

Voters’ comments included:

simple and extraordinary at the same time

I like the simple words, the conciseness and the message of the poem. The usual reason: felt, experienced by everybody, written by one of us in a way that makes us relieved – some others feel like us as well…

She is one of my favorite Hungarian contemporary poets. She is lovely and so expressive.

Good, succinct poem.

 

………………….

 

It was, as always, a closely run thing and so this time we’ve included some voters’ comments on the other five contenders.

David Calcutt, Extracts from The Old Man in the House of Bone:

   Beautiful. Interesting. Sustained.

   mysterious, dreamlike, as if the old man’s mind is wandering. It is well constructed and intriguing.

Susan Castillo Street, Voices:

   haunting lyrical imagery, reaches the heart,tender and powerful.

   Much treasure in a small compass!

Sally Evans, Review of Abiding Chemistry by Susan Castillo Street:

   …a superb and insightful review.

Ilse Pedler, Breathing:

   A compulsive read and very thought provoking. A poem I wanted to read again and again.

   As basic as breath itself. So true.

Jill Sharp, Leda plucks a swan:

   Imaginatively reconsiders it’s subject matter and delivers a cascade of memorable imagery.

   Revenge, a warm swan salad….

 

Read More

July 2015 Pick of the Month

Voting is now open for the Pick of the Month – your favourite poem, flash fiction or review – for July 2015

Our shortlist of six is below (or see the Vote for your July 2015 Pick of the Month in the categories list to your right on the screen). Some of these have been chosen by Helen and Kate. The remainder are those that have 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.)

Read More

Winner of the UEA FLY Festival Short Story Competition 11-14 yr olds: Yen-yen Loke

 

If anything, this year’s shortlist for the 11-14 age group for UEA FLY Festival Short Story Competition was even more competitive than the older (15-17) group (whose winner we featured yesterday.) The originality of ideas, descriptive turns and ability to evoke often oppressive and frightening atmospheres across the board made choosing a winner very difficult. Ultimately, the judges’ choice was the accomplished Yen-yen Loke, from Wymondham High and as ‘witty and adventurous’ as her heroine Millie. Her winning piece is featured below.

Once again we begin with the ominous opening conceived by YA writer and co-judge Alexander Gordon Smith (The Fury, the Furnace and Inventors series).

*****

“That’s the problem with authors, they’re always late!”

There was an awkward silence in the lecture hall. It was the opening day of the FLY Festival and we had a day off from school to listen to one of the most famous writers on the planet. Everybody was here… except for the author! I was sitting at the back, next to the doors, with my best friend Sam. The only person on stage was the festival organiser. She kept glancing at her watch and laughing nervously.

“I’m sure she will be here in a moment,” she said, the microphone squealing. “Perhaps we should go look for her. Um… You dear.”

She seemed to be looking right at me. I pointed to myself.

“Yes, you, right at the back. Would you be so kind?”

“Er…” I said. “You’d like me to look for the author?”

“Thank you,” she said. “She’s bound to be out there somewhere. Send her in!”

Everybody in the room was looking at me and my cheeks were on fire. I stood up, grabbed hold of Sam, and together we walked out of the lecture hall.

“Where on earth do we start looking?” said Sam.

I shrugged. I had no idea! The university was huge. There was no sign of her anywhere in the hallway, or on the path outside.

“Let’s try there,” I said, pointing to a building across the road. “She might have taken a wrong turn.”

It was a strange looking place with LABORATORY written in big letters above the door.

There was a smaller notice underneath that said: ‘Keep out, dangerous experiments underway!’ The whole building seemed to be vibrating, and there was a strange smell in the air.

“Maybe we shouldn’t go in there,” said Sam.

I was about to agree when through the glass door we spotted the author! She crossed a hallway, looking very confused, and disappeared into a room.

“Come on!” I said.

And before Sam could argue, I opened the door and ran inside…

 

FIRST PLACE:  YEN-YEN LOKE (14) WYMONDHAM HIGH ACADEMY


“Millie!” Sam cried, mouth a spaghetti-hoop ‘O’ of astonishment, expression entirely composed of innocent distress. “Millie!” he repeated, unable to utter anything other than the two meaningless syllables which comprised my name (yes, I am a girl, don’t laugh).

Impulsively, I grabbed his arm and pulled him into the dank hallway before realising the cause of his pitiful exclamation – a giant, white dog, spotted murky brown as if sporting several enormous bruises, had curiously been lurking about behind and was frowning severely at me. Plainly the unfortunate creature had indulged in one too many fights. I sighed coolly.

“How much is that doggie in the window?” I sang in my most beguiling fashion, as the baffled animal cocked its large head to one side, gazing out of the glass door at which I was tentatively pointing. After slowly brandishing a single, crumbly, mouth-wateringly chocolate-y cookie (my last one…) as if it were an ancient dagger rather than my would-be mid-morning snack, I hurled the treat across the length of the room. Quite literally barking-mad, our spotty dog followed.

“But Millie, you’ve just blocked the door the author went through,” Sam whined, excusably vexed.

I snorted contemptuously and nodded at a tiny passageway, partially concealed behind rows of conical flasks, which made an attractive potential short-cut. Having convinced my very unassuming companion that this route was far more appealing, we scrambled hastily through the gap and into an innocuous laboratory.

Let us pause a brief moment to analyse the lively emotions pulsing through my narrow frame.

  1. I felt most pleasingly like Nicola Aribban, detective protagonist of our author Jen Nurrum’s sensational action series ‘Crystal-Snap’.
  2. As evidence of the above, I recollected that Nicola has also unfortunately been threatened by a giant, white dog.
  3. Vague misgivings concerning the authenticity of Nurrum’s confused and utterly innocent expression enticed me towards an interesting scent…

I was aware

of little except

my churning stomach and

Sam whimpering softly behind me until

there was a Bang

(With a capital B.)

Two men passed.

I heard a second explosion, though it resonated vaguely and otherworldly, whereas in truth it was not. It was in my world, personified by the burning sensation of a bullet’s graze on my thigh. The first had missed – a sizzling floor-crater crackled and burnt. A faint murmur echoed, mildly reproving “leave them, they will do no harm, they are just silly kids playing hide-and-seek, what we need is to get the crystals, and if anyone else sees, you’re my storytelling assistants and I’m lost.”

Though agonised, I understood that the cast of this particular storytelling had only just been released:

  • Nurrum – villian, stealing priceless crystals currently under study at the UEA laboratory
  • Millie – playing Nicola, an out-of-the-blue heroine, witty and adventurous
  • Sam – Nicola’s faithful sidekick
  • an assortment of dogs, bandits and so forth.

And I knew that the final chapter of ‘Crystal-Snap’ was only just being written.

Read More

Winner of the UEA FLY Festival Short Story Competition 15-17 yr olds: Aedan Fisher

 

Last week, we were once more privileged to be part of the UEA FLY Festival (Festival of Literature for Young people). Ink Sweat & Tears again supported the final event, a superbly enthusiastic POETRY SLAM. Huge thanks to host/mentor Tim Clare and judges/mentors Mark Gristo, MC Mixy and Molly Naylor for making it such an entertaining occasion and congratulations to the kids from The Hewett School and the Downham Market, Kings Lynn and Open Academies for taking up the challenge so well and for pushing the boundaries of originality in poetry. An ode to Blu-Tack, talking shoes or melted chairs as art, anyone? Not to mention several very moving pieces on bullying and war.

In addition, IS&T’s Kate Birch co-judged the Short Story Competition with the brilliant Alexander Gordon Smith (The Fury, the Furnace and Inventors series), a festival favourite and patron, who also wrote the story’s opening. It is featured in italics below followed by the winning ending from the 15-17 age group, by the very talented Aedan Fisher.  Prepare to be intrigued.

*****

“That’s the problem with authors, they’re always late!”

There was an awkward silence in the lecture hall. It was the opening day of the FLY Festival and we had a day off from school to listen to one of the most famous writers on the planet. Everybody was here… except for the author! I was sitting at the back, next to the doors, with my best friend Sam. The only person on stage was the festival organiser. She kept glancing at her watch and laughing nervously.

“I’m sure she will be here in a moment,” she said, the microphone squealing. “Perhaps we should go look for her. Um… You dear.”

She seemed to be looking right at me. I pointed to myself.

“Yes, you, right at the back. Would you be so kind?”

“Er…” I said. “You’d like me to look for the author?”

“Thank you,” she said. “She’s bound to be out there somewhere. Send her in!”

Everybody in the room was looking at me and my cheeks were on fire. I stood up, grabbed hold of Sam, and together we walked out of the lecture hall.

“Where on earth do we start looking?” said Sam.

I shrugged. I had no idea! The university was huge. There was no sign of her anywhere in the hallway, or on the path outside.

“Let’s try there,” I said, pointing to a building across the road. “She might have taken a wrong turn.”

It was a strange looking place with LABORATORY written in big letters above the door.

There was a smaller notice underneath that said: ‘Keep out, dangerous experiments underway!’ The whole building seemed to be vibrating, and there was a strange smell in the air.

“Maybe we shouldn’t go in there,” said Sam.

I was about to agree when through the glass door we spotted the author! She crossed a hallway, looking very confused, and disappeared into a room.

“Come on!” I said.

And before Sam could argue, I opened the door and ran inside…

 

FIRST PLACE:  AEDAN FISHER (15) THE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL, LEFTWICH

 

… After I ran inside I found myself confronted with a labyrinth of doors and stairwells. Turning left, I spotted in the corner of my eye the author wandering, still confused, entering one of the strange doors. Gasping for air Sam caught up with me and placed his sweaty hand on my right shoulder. He coughed and wheezed before taking a puff from his inhaler. Sam couldn’t do much exercise these days since he’s discovered the recently opened and overpriced cake shop in town which had rendered him rather unfit. With this in mind, I slowed to a gentle jog where he found it much easier to keep up with me.

We approached the door the author had gone through. Taking notice of the warning sign on the laboratory door in mind, we cautiously entered the room without looking at the sign on the door. “This doesn’t seem like a laboratory” exclaimed Sam “It looks more like the toilets to me and a strange place to perform dangerous experiements” he continued. My cheeks flared red with embarassment as we had entered the women’ s lavatory. But the building still vibrated and the strange smile from earlier was stronger in here than it was in the entrance, “I know this smell it’s…” CRACK! The floor was splitting from beneath our feet and the smell began poring through the cracks… “SULPHUR!” I shouted. I covered my mouth with my sleeve and nudged Sam to do the same.

We managed to edge our way round the cracks and towards the sinks. Suddenly, the tiles were being clawed from below our feet, and spiralled into the deep red vortex which had begun to form in the centre of the room. The air appeared to be limited now and the electricity flickered on and off, repeatedly. BANG! The cubicle doors swung open and off their hinges batting against the walls before hurtling into the blood-like abyss. Everything in the room began leaning into the pit…

Then nothing. No smell of sulphur. No vibrations. The air levels seemed to have normalised now; but there in the cubicle right in the corner was “THE AUTHOR” I exclaimed. I clasped Sam by his shirt and rushed over to her assistance. She appeared in a haze of confusion as we helped her to her feet and guided her towards the hall.

We arrived at the Lecture Hall once more, only this time with a just about conscious woman and took her to her designated seat while she regained consciousness. After ten minutes, the exhausted festival organiser noticed the author. “Here she is!” she bellowed and pointed to the woman who started stumbling towards the stage, like a child who’d just learnt how to walk. She looked different now, not that she couldn’t walk very well but by her eyes which half an hour ago were bluish but now were more of a reddish colour.

Maybe we didn’t bring the author back…

Maybe we brought something else…

 

(The winner of the 11-14 year group will be featured tomorrow.)

Read More

And the ‘Pick of the Month’ for June 2015 is Jane Burn

We are very pleased to announce that Jane Burn’s Whatever shall I do with this time to myself? is the voters’ choice for the IS&T Pick of the Month for June. Jane has asked that her prize be donated to Shelter.

 

 

Whatever shall I do with this time to myself?

 

There is too much and too little choice all at once
So I content myself with ferreting the remains
of the laundry basket. So many socks! I have turned
the rogue ones outside out, mud sprinkling, dried
from when you came in wet, hauled the clinging
concertinas from your feet, leaving them where
they fell. I smooth the washed ones on radiators,
pinch out the heels blocked in with primary colours,
imagine your toes, like chewy gumballs. Then I go
and bake, lining my tins, so when you return
there will be sweetness for your mouth.

  ………………….

Voters’ comments included:

This poem will resonate with everyone who’s acquainted with the sock goblins.

Wonderfully vivid balance of images and a very original angle, sorting those socks is a seemingly everyday action but the whole poem is full of restrained emotion which makes it even more powerful.

Its simply put but captures something so familiar -such a gentle evocation of motherhood

It is sweet and true and the world is full of socks.

I love the precision and tenderness with which she lifts a moment that could hardly be more ‘ordinary’ in its objective content.

Jane is an original, quirky, deep and splendid voice in the poetry scene.

So eloquent about the magic of everyday things. The final couplet is brimming with love.


 

Read More

Pick of the Month June 2015

Voting is now open for the Pick of the Month – your favourite poem, flash fiction or review – for June 2015

Our shortlist of six is below (or see the Vote for your June 2015 Pick of the Month in the categories list to your right on the screen). Some of these have been chosen by Helen and Kate. The remainder are those that have received the most attention on social media.

Voting has now closed. The results will be announced Wednesday 15th July.

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*.

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

Read More

And the ‘Pick of the Month’ for May 2015 is Rushaa Louise Hamid

Huge congratulations to Rushaa Louise Hamid whose Another Canaan emerged as the voters’ choice for the first IS&T Pick of the Month. Rushaa wins a National Book Tokens £10 gift card and, as the first ‘Pick’, a place on a Lunar Poetry workshop at L’klectik gallery, cafe, performance and (soon to be) poetry bookshop space in Waterloo, London.

 

 

Another Canaan

 

There was a wasteland
and cold tire tracks in the skin of the sand.
I forgot I couldn’t breathe.

In the distance was something
I could crawl to;
flat lands – these were like the lands of my childhood,
a people that weren’t built for inclines
but to trundle on
ever looking past the haze of dust
and abandoning things that could not be carried.
In the rush of feet and vehicles
was a cry that all things must move forward,
amongst the heat and pain,
where the dust had been beaten down into a solid block.

My mother said
“You’ve got fire in your bones and
none in your blood,
and hot bones break,
and hot sand buries broken bones.”
A crib lingers out in the heat
leftover from a broken moment
and I am leftover too

 ………………….

Voters’ comments included:

I just love the soft colours of her words….

How the first line encapsulates the feeling of the entire poem. It all feels desolate after…

Stirs something within me

so full of images

It was evocative of the desert and brought back some personal memories.

The second verse was touching and something I could relate to.

she does an impression of a Dalek (in reference to Rushaa’s biography notes), and the poem is good

 

 

Read More