Autumn Bears Fruit. Well, we’ve hit that perfect time of year when Autumn looks more burnished and bright than ever. Today the sun is suddenly clear and warm, the wind has slightly eased, and all those abundant turning leaves shimmer and wave from their tree-top homes. By next week the weather and wind will have changed, […]
I’ve had a bit of a busy year dotting from Cornwall, to Orkney, then on to Shetland, back to Hay-on-Wye, now in North Somerset and I’m ashamed to say my website slipped from my mind, so I’m going to make amends. Last weekend, under a steely-grey, rain-filled sky Rhiannon Hoosen launched her incredible new pamphlet, Full […]
Richard Booth Prize for Non-Fiction
Article by C. Harris
We had a very good response this year with a wide variety of interesting submissions, and our judge, the award winning writer Oliver Bullough, commented that the entries were of a high standard. We are also eternally grateful to Richard Booth, (known to many as the King of Hay) who generously sponsors this competition and Richard was recently on hand to present the prizes to our winners at the annual Hay Writers’ Summer Lunch.
Oliver was kind enough to provide a commentary on all the pieces and made encouraging comments on all of them. He also suggested possible improvements, which was very helpful, as one of the major benefits of holding competitions is the opportunity to have constructive criticism from independent, skilled and recognized writers.
First place was awarded to Marianne Rosen for “Unspeakable”. This is a poignant piece, originally written as a “homework” exercise. Marianne was characteristically modest about it when she presented it to the group but was encouraged by us to enter it in a competition. Oliver described it as “beautiful and very moving”. He commented on the effectiveness of the “curious grammar” and the ambiguities that make the piece read “like someone who’s sleepwalking through life”. It is a piece with many emotional layers which “slowly unfolds its secret”; “a very profound bit of writing”.
Joint second place went to Jean O’Donahue for “Seurat and Monet”. This piece was “a great story about seemingly small items with deep significance”. Oliver commented on her gift for describing things from her own perspective and on her confidence as a writer, bringing in “massive things as if they are tiny” and “small things as if they are massive”.
The other joint second place went to Jo Hill for “Sandy – a case study”. A “powerful piece” about an emotionally disturbed child, it impressed Oliver with the “bravery of writing”. He commented on the effective narrative devices and the portrayal of the child. His final comment was particularly encouraging – “I think it could even be a pitch for a book. I’d read it.”
The pieces entered for this competition demonstrate the talents of our writers, highlighting the quality and variety of the writing currently being produced.
Many congratulations to everyone who entered, especially to the prize-winners.
Our sincere thanks are due to Richard Booth, for his continued support of our group and also to Oliver Bullough, who has been a fantastic judge; generous with his time and his expertise. Thank you.
Hay Writers’ Poetry Competition 2018
by C. Harris
The judge this year was Libby Houston. For the first time this competition was open to selected non-members, those who had attended our very successful poetry workshop in February of this year, and this undoubtedly enhanced the numbers. The workshop was not only a useful educational exercise, but also a chance to meet other writers and to boost our membership. We plan to organize more workshops in the future. Check out our website Events Page for details of workshops and competitions.
Libby started her feedback by acknowledging that responses to poetry were highly subjective. However, when she outlined some of the criteria by which she judged the poems, it was clear that she had been meticulous in her assessments. The criteria included choice of form, use of language, and the sound of the poem. She gave some very helpful pointers on line-breaks, on how the poem is laid out on the page and on “the pitfalls of rhyming”.
She then went on to discuss each poem individually. Although her comments could occasionally be a little astringent, the criticism was always constructive, identifying not just weaknesses, but strong points and effective language. Importantly, she gave suggestions for possible improvements in each poem, making this a highly effective learning exercise.
In first place was Corinne Harris’s “Golden Rose Synagogue, Lviv”, a pantoum about a holocaust memorial, with a “sustained and elegiac mood”. This was followed closely by Emma Van Woerkom’s “Water Break-its-Neck”, an energetic poem about a waterfall, with a “profusion” of effective imagery “that responds to the waterfall’s violent name”. Third place was tied. Jean O’Donoghue’s “Sciurius,” with its flouncing lively squirrel, and with imagery “mirroring the creature’s jumpiness”. Ange Grunsell shared third place with “Absence”, a melancholy reflection following a visit by her grandchildren that had a “flow and sound like natural speech”. Three wildlife poems were highly commended: Emma Van Woerkom’s “The Weaver Bird’s Nest”, and “Adder” and “Hyena” by Corinne Harris.
It is clear that there is a wealth of poetic talent around. In a sense the competition is not just about placement, as this is clearly subjective, but it is an opportunity to share work and, importantly, to get useful feedback from an experienced poet and tutor. Our thanks go to Libby Houston for her careful analysis and her constructive suggestions.
It’s festival time again! How do I know? Well, it’s not from the throngs of people lining the roads, streets and country lanes, or the aroma of BBQ’s and a myriad of pop-up food stands serving all sorts of deliciously exotic fare; not even the colourful bunting zig-zagging over the streets or the distant throb from music carried for miles on heady evening breezes, or perhaps the increased volume of celebrities talking, reading, singing or even signing books.
No, it’s festival time again because my mother’s broom tree is blooming.
It’s little pea-type flowers explode in a riot of fountaining yellow, like a long awaited dazzling solar flare. We marvel at it, comment on it’s vibrancy and how popular it is with the bees who forage within a blinding forest of petals. There’s no mistaking this brilliant beacon and it’s annual declaration. Yes, it’s definitely festival time again!
***Hay Writers’ Circle will be performing at the Hay Festival 2018***
Sunday 3rd June, event 420, at 11.30am in the Compass venue.
It’s FREE but ticketed.
Get your tickets HERE or direct from the festival box office.