Vernal Equinox Competition Judges

FWS members – remember the competition closes at midnight on 30 April 2021!

To help you get going, here are the judges and what they are looking for.

Poetry Judge Jim Mackintosh FWS Makar for 2021

Jim is the socially distanced author of six poetry collections, masked editor of two anthologies, locked down poetry editor for Nutmeg football magazine, isolated poet in chief of the Hampden Collection, multi -tiered approach Poet in Residence of the Cateran EcoMuseum, tested and protected programme manager for the HamishMatters Festival, actively two metres apart from roles on the Friends committee’s of William Soutar and Hugh Miller.

What Jim is looking for in the Poetry entries

All poems are good in the sense that anyone who has engaged in the struggle between their inner thoughts and the blank page in front of them deserves my respect. To release your thoughts into that white void, to bridge the gap between pen and page with words in a semblance of order deserves an award but, and there’s always that but.

I could mention someone’s meat and someone else’s poison and waffle on about rhyme and meter, imagery, word choice, economy of language and ask you to sit up straight, don’t pass notes under the desk and eat your greens but the most important Buts are: be true to yourself, draw from your own life experience and be proud of your craft for that is what good poetry will always look and feel like to me – the words of a person who has committed to the white void with honesty, care, pride and respect for the craft. And if you can slap me on my forehead with a beezer of a poem that knocks me off my feet then take the rest of the day off.

© Jim Mackintosh February 2021

 Short Story Judge Leela Soma FWS Scriever for 2021

Leela was born in Madras, India and now lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Her poems and short stories have been published in a number of anthologies. She has published two novels and two collections of poetry. Her third and latest novel is a crime thriller ‘Murder at the Mela’ published by Ringwood Publishing. Some of her work reflects her dual heritage of India and Scotland.

What Leela is looking for in the Short Story entries.

What makes a good short story? To quote Edgar Allan Poe ” A short story must have a single mood and every sentence should build towards it.”
For me it would be a great opening sentence or paragraph. A good short story that draws the reader in with a narrative flow that is engaging. Original, new, strong ideas that make the reader think after finishing  the story.

© Leela Soma February 2021

Flash Fiction Judge Mairibeth MacMillan

Mairibeth was the first winner of the Vernal Equinox short story competition. Since then she has had a number of short stories published in various magazines and has won the Writer’s Forum flash fiction competition twice, written many more and had some published. She has also published her first novel and had a poem shortlisted for the Bridport Prize last year. She regularly teaches an introduction to Flash Fiction course to Advanced Higher pupils at her local secondary school and has taught it to some writing groups, too.

What Mairibeth is looking for in the Flash Fiction entries

What I will be looking for is flash fiction that takes advantage of the form and utilises the shorter word count as a positive feature. I’ll also be looking for something which tells a story, whether this is explicit or implicit, and which has emotional impact.

© Mairibeth MacMillan February 2021

 Scots Category Judge Stuart A Paterson

Stuart was voted Scots Writer of the Year at the national 2020 Scots Language Awards. Author of several collections in Scots & English since 1991, his latest book ‘A Squatter o Bairnrhymes’ (Tippermuir Books) is the first major volume of new Scots poems for children in decades & is fast gaining national & international acclaim. Stuart was BBC Scotland Poet in Residence 2017-18 & works for the SQA as an External Verifier to schools delivering the Scots Language Award. Originally from Ayrshire, he now lives in Galloway by the Solway Coast.

What Stuart is looking for in the Scots category entries

Scots hisnae yit an offeecial staunnert sae dinnae fash owre yer spellin an siclike. An mind, Scots IS a language, ane o wir ain thrie auld hame languages!  An lik ony language it haes a fair wheen o dialecks fae Sheltie doon tae Gallowa an maist airts in atween. Aw poems an wee tales in the Scots dialeck o whaur ye bide or are fae will be fair appreciatit. Scots, like Gaelic, should be of & from the many, not the few. Scots is yours & oors – I look forward to reading it!

© Stuart A Paterson February 2021 

Gaelic Category Judge Deborah Moffatt

Deborah Moffatt was born in Vermont, USA and has lived  in Scotland since 1982. She has published three collections of poetry – Dàin nan  Dùil, (Clàr, 2019), Eating Thistles (Smokestack Books, 2019) and Far From Home,  (Lapwing, 2004).  Her poems have  appeared in a number of anthologies, including Staying Human (Bloodaxe 2020),  100 Dàin às Fheàrr Leinn (Luath 2020) and Poems of the Decade (Faber/Forward  2011). She has won prizes for her poems in both English and Gaelic, including  first prizes in the Wigtown competition, the Duais Bhàrdachd MacDhòmhnaill  Shlèite and the Federation of Scottish Writers Vernal Competition.

What Deborah is looking for in the Gaelic entries

Bidh mi a’ leughadh gach dàn le inntinn fhosgailte. Tha  fiughair agam gum bi na dàin air an sgrìobhte ann an caochladh  mhòdhan-sgrìobhaidh, agus gun tèid iad thairis air sreath de chuspairean. Ma  bhios liut is sgil rim faicinn anns na dàin agaibh, bhiodh sin feumail, ach tha   e a’ cheart cho cudromach dhomh ma  bhios faireachdan làidir agus lèirsinn air leth agaibh. Anns a’ grad-ficsean,  bidh mi a’ sireadh na h-aon bhuaidhean, ach a bharrachd air sin, feumaidh beagan  sgeulachd a bhith ann cuideachd.

 I intend to bring an open mind to every poem I read.  I expect and hope to read poems written  about a wide range of topics and in any a variety of styles, traditional or  modern.  The careful use of language  and poetic techniques might make a good poem a winning poem.  Mostly, I would want to get a sense that  the author has a strong commitment to the ideas or feelings expressed in the  poem, and to the art of the poem itself.  For  Flash Fiction, I expect to find at least the slender thread of a narrative, and  writing which enhances the story: as with a poem, every word must be chosen  carefully!

© Deborah Moffatt February 2021

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