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

FWS Vernal Equinox Competition Opens

Federation of Writers Scotland Vernal Equinox Competition 2021

 ****DEADLINE: midnight on 30 April 2021****

For names of judges and what they are looking for go to https://federationofwritersscotland.com/2020/02/10/vernal-equinox-competition-judges-2/

Prizes in each category: 1st prize £100, 2nd prize £25, 3rd prize £10

 Rules of Entry

  1. There will be five categories: open poetry; open short stories; open flash fiction; poetry or flash fiction in Scottish Gaelic; poetry or flash fiction in Scots. Entrants may submit an unlimited number of entries in each category provided they are accompanied by the correct entry fee. The same poem or piece of flash fiction may be entered for the Scots competition and for the appropriate category of the open competition, provided that it is accompanied by the correct entry fee. The same poem or piece of flash fiction may be entered for the Scottish Gaelic competition and in its English form (if translated by the entrant) for the appropriate category of the open competition, provided that it is accompanied by the correct entry fee. In both cases the open competition category selected counts as a separate category.

See 17 below for fee structure which is the same across all categories

  1. No entrant may receive more than one prize in each category.
  2. Entry is open: you do not have to be a member of the Federation of Writers (Scotland).
  3. In the poetry category you may submit an unlimited number of entries accompanied by the appropriate fee. No poem should exceed forty lines in length excluding the title. Please indicate the number of lines at the end of the poem.
  4. In the short story category you may submit an unlimited number of stories not exceeding 2000 words in length accompanied by the appropriate fee. Any story submitted in this category which is less than 501 words in length will automatically be transferred to the Flash Fiction category for judging. The fee will not be affected since the fees are now the same for both categories. Please indicate the word count at the end of the story.
  5. In the flash fiction category you may submit an unlimited number of pieces not exceeding 500 words in length accompanied by the appropriate fee. Please indicate the word count at the end of the story.
  6. In the Scottish Gaelic category you may submit an unlimited number of poems and/or flash fiction accompanied by the appropriate fee. No poem should exceed forty lines in length excluding the title. Please indicate the number of lines at the end of the poem. No flash fiction story should exceed 500 words in length. Please indicate the word count at the end of the piece. 
  7. In the Scots category you may submit an unlimited number of poems and/or flash fiction accompanied by the appropriate fee. No poem should exceed forty lines in length excluding the title. Please indicate the number of lines at the end of the poem. No flash fiction story should exceed 500 words in length. Please indicate the word count at the end of the piece. 
  8. Work submitted must be in English, Scots or Scottish Gaelic and must be your own work (no translations of others’ work or poems which are ‘erasures’ of another’s text).
  9. No work submitted should have been previously published/broadcast/e-published or posted on-line in any form.
  10. Entries must be typewritten, double-spaced (single-spacing is acceptable for poems) on one side only of A4 paper using at least a 12pt font and, if sent by email, sent as a Word or rtf document. Please do not send in any other format. Please number each page. No name or other mark which could identify the author should appear on any page of the entry which should be accompanied by a cover sheet setting out your name, address and email address, the category or categories entered, the number and title(s) of entries, the total fee due and the method of payment.
  11. If you are sending your entry by post please use a paperclip to secure pages NOT a staple and send two copies of each entry.
  12. Entries will not be returned so please keep a copy of your entry.
  13. No alteration can be made to an entry once submitted.
  14. The judges’ decision is final. The judges cannot enter into any correspondence regarding entries. The organisers reserve the right to withhold prizes in any category if the number of entries received is insufficient or if entries received are judged not to meet the required standard.
  15. Closing date for the competition is midnight on 30 April 2021.
  16. Entry fee is £4 for first entry in any one category, £8 for two entries in any one category, £10 for three entries in any one category, £3 for each subsequent entry (after the first three) in any one category. The five categories are:

Open Poetry (which may be in Scots or English)

Open Short Story (which may be in Scots or English)

Open Flash Fiction (which may be in Scots or English)

Scottish Gaelic (poetry and flash fiction)

Scots (Poetry and flash fiction 

  1. Failure to comply with the above rules or to pay the appropriate entry fee will result in automatic disqualification.
  2. Successful entrants will be notified by July 6 2021. All entrants will be sent a list of results after July 6 when the results are officially announced.

How to enter

By email

Email your entry with a completed cover sheet (see 11 above) as a Word or rtf document to acclarke6@btopenworld.com to arrive by midnight on 30 April 2021. Email submission of entries is preferred.

By post

Send your entry (two copies) with a separate cover sheet (see 10 above) to:
Competition Secretary
0/1 25 Craigmillar Rd
Glasgow
G42 9JZ

If you are submitting the same entry for both the Scottish Gaelic or Scots competition and the appropriate category in the open competition please make sure you have clearly indicated this in your cover sheet and have paid the appropriate fees. If you have any query about fees please don’t hesitate to email me at acclarke6@btopenworld.com

All entrants: Send the appropriate fee (see 16 above) by bank transfer to Account No.12874968, sort code 80-22-60 (name of account Federation of Writers (Scotland), Bank of Scotland) using as identification your name followed by ‘comp21’. If you are not able to send money by bank transfer please send a cheque or postal order (pounds sterling only) made out to The Federation of Writers (Scotland) by post to the address above.  If you are not able to send money either by bank transfer or cheque (because e.g. you live abroad) please contact the competition secretary at acclarke6@btopenworld.com

Please ensure that you indicate your method of payment on the cover sheet

Email entries will be acknowledged on receipt.

Postal entrants wishing confirmation that their entries have been received should either include their email address on their cover sheet or enclose a stamped addressed postcard.

 No entries will be entered in the competition until the entry fee has been received.

PLEASE NOTE: Proof of posting does not mean proof of delivery.

Once an entry has been submitted and the fee paid please do not contact the competition secretary unless the piece you submitted has been accepted for publication elsewhere or placed in another competition prior to 6 July, which would automatically disqualify it.

Vernal Equinox Competition Results

Results of FWS Vernal Equinox Competition 2019

Flash fiction

Gaelic

Short Story

Poetry

Flash Fiction Category

Overview by Flash Fiction Judge Gordon Lawrie

As the editor of a flash fiction website, I see many different submissions from around the world – many thousands over the last five or six years – and their quality varies quite a bit. By no means do we accept them all.

So it was great to see so very many high-standard entries for the FWS Vernal Equinox Flash Fiction and indeed I can honestly that every single entry – all of them – would have graced the pages of the website I edit. So well done to all of you, you can write flash fiction for sure, and your stories were a pleasure to read.

That brought its own problems, however. With so many excellent stories, especially when they vary in style as much as yours did, identifying the best ones becomes difficult. Your stories were funny, sad, poignant, uplifting, frightening, romantic, erotic, and in any number of genres. I tried to go back to the criteria that I set out beforehand, but my choices are inevitably subjective ones.

At least my choices are quite different. I liked them, and I hope you like them, too. I’ve included a short ‘Commended’ list as well, but in truth you were all winners.

 Commended

Craig Aitchison    Marigolds
Peter Armstrong Richard’s T-Shirt
Debbie Bayne      Portrait of a Younger Man
Stephen Barnaby            Compact
Carol McKay      There’s Always Another Train
Paula Nicolson   Niver Titch a Woman’s Bahooky Less She Asks Ye

3rd  prize

Steve May What Good’s A Cowboy?

 Why I liked it.

 Although the Vernal Equinox Flash Fiction Competition has a maximum word limit of 500 words, much shorter stories have their merits, too. For me, this just touched a nerve: on this occasion the bully a hat, but it might just as well have been a bicycle, a schoolbag or a football.

This is the story of an end of a childhood innocence that each of us has experienced. The child discovers that people can be mindlessly horrible, and at the same time that his mother can’t protect him as much as he’d previously assumed.

2nd  prize

Bert Thomson Daft and Dafter

 Why I liked it.

 What appealed here was that I could so picture this entire scene, and each of the characters. Every Scot encounters countless such ‘numpties’ from time to time – guys who simply seem parachuted in from the planet Mars. They mean well, they think they’re harming no one, when actually they just don’t think at all.

 I love the way that the story unfolds as Ryan ‘Daft’ Wilson babbles on to DI Charlie Scrimgeour about what they were up to – that he and his mate Jason were off to Largs to collect some drugs when this ridiculous misunderstanding regarding ‘the wean’ took place. And I love the way that, even once it’s pointed out to him what he’s done, Ryan first response is ‘nae harm done. The wean had a great time.’ A cone from Nardini, after all, is the antidote to anything.

 The detective would be shaking his head in despair. I shook mine, too – laughing.

1stprize 

Colin Kerr Charlotte

Why I liked it.

 The quality of submissions was consistently high, which made judging both enjoyable and difficult at the same time. But the story of the narrator’s relationship with Charlotte, told through a piano and shared accommodation, somehow sparked my imagination. Charlotte seeks causes, love, people’s accents, soft furnishings, books, and of course the piano, in no special order: as one hope fades, she trades it for another.

 I placed a value on some exceptional writing: ‘I moved here from a village you wouldn’t know’; the placard with ‘Gods in the sky’ – is it missing an apostrophe? (we never find out); Charlotte’s endless faith in hope and new solutions; the sense that Charlotte is damaged; and the final theme that all is temporary. I found myself wondering how Charlotte would react to the disappearance of the piano. Would it push her over the edge, or would she simply create a fresh placard about something else?

 This story fulfilled all of my major requirements, particularly that it said so much yet left so much unsaid. The narrator seems unlikely to be part of Charlotte’s story, for sure.

Gaelic Category

 Overview by Gaelic Judge Marcas mac an Tuairneir

 Bha e na thlachd uiread de shàr-sgrìobhadh sa Ghàidhlig fhaighinn a-steach don cho-fharpais, le taic bho Chomhairle nan Leabhraichean is buidhnean eile. B’ e fianais a bha seo de rud air an robh mi an dùil o chionn fhada: gu bheil sgrìobhadairean Gàidhealach am measg seòid a’ Cho-nasgaidh, ach gun robhas feumach air beagan misneachd a chumail riutha is cothrom ceart a chur rompha. Nach sibh a tha math, uileadh!

Mar sgrìobhadair aithnichte sa chiad dol-a-mach airson mo chuid bàrdachd fhèin, bhiodhar an dùil, is dòcha gum measainn a’ bhàrdachd as fheàrr. Thachair sin, ach chan eil sin ri ràdh nach robh sgrìobhadh an grad-fhicsein aig àrd-ìre, cuideachd. Bha, gun teagamh, ach an fhìrinn innse, leis is gur e gnè-sgrìobhaidh gu math ùr, fhathast, air saoghal litreachas na Gàidhlig, chan robh mi cinnteach an do ghabh gin de na sgrìobhadairean ruisg ris a’ chruth-sgrìobhaidh gu buileach – fhathast! – ged cho mòr a chòrd rium an ìomhaigheachd annta. Ann an grad-fhicsean bidh mi an dùil ri sgeulachd slàn ann an gainnead fhaclan. Tachartas a bhuaileas mi le sainnseal tron dhuilleig, no deagh chleas a chuireas car air an aithris. Bho na leugh mi am measg nan iarrtasan seo, bha deagh thoiseach thòiseachaidh den ath mòr-nobhail Ghàidhlig, no sàr-sgeulachd ghoirid a ghabhadh leasachadh le cunntas fhaclan nas motha. Mar sin, na biodh seo na dì-mhisneachadh dhuibh. Chan eil mi ach airson tuilleadh a leughadh, nach d’ fhuair mi san dòigh seo.

A thaobh na bàrdachd, bha fhìor-fharsaingeachd ann, ged a chuir a h-uile duine verse libre thugainn. Ann am pìos na dhà, bha blasad de mheatarachd is seann-chruthan ri leughadh ann am feadhainn de na loidhnichean is chunnaic mi dìleab nan sàr-bhàrd Gàidhealach san sgrìobhadh ùr a chaidh a chur romham. A thaobh chuspairean is ìomhaigheachd, bha na tròpaichean Gàidhealach ann: maighdeannan-mhara is maighdeannan-ròin, gaol ga riochdhachadh tron aimsir is ràithean na bliadhna, coimhearsnachdan dùthchasach nan eilean le sùil gheur air beatha is na rudan beaga a bheir buaidh oirre.

I was chuffed to see we had attracted such super writing in Gaelic to the competition, with support from the Gaelic Books Council and friends elsewhere. This was the evidence we needed of something known for a long time: that we have Gaelic-speaking writers amongst the illustrious ranks of the Federation, but that a little confidence needed instilling whilst presenting them with the right opportunity. You’re all stars!

As a writer primarily known for my own poetry, you would likely expect that I would judge poetry to be most worthy. Yes, that what’s happened, but that is not to say that the flash-fiction wasn’t without merit, either. I really enjoyed it, but if I’m honest, with this being a relatively new genre for Gaelic literature, I wasn’t left feeling certain that any of our prose writers had got a proper handle on the genre – yet! – despite how much the imagery was a thrill to read. In flash-fiction, I expect to read a complete story in a paucity of words. An event that smacks me round the chops, through the page, or a clever twist that flips the narrative. From what I read amongst these entries, there was a promising start to the next great Gaelic novel, or a superb short story waiting to be developed with a larger word-count. To that end, this should in no way serve to break your confidence. I came away solely wanting to read more than I could in that put before me.

As for the poetry, there was a great deal of variety, though you all sent in vers libre. In a couple of pieces, there was a taste of that metre and traditional form that came through in the reading of certain lines and I could really see the legacy of the greatest of the Gaelic poets in this snapshot contemporary writing. In terms of theme and imagery, the stuff of Gaeldom was there: mermaids and selkies, love represented through the weather and the seasons, traditional island communities with a keen eye on life and the small things that shape it.

 Commended

Eòghan Stiùbhart         Siantan

Highly Commended

Peter Clive                Figheachan

2ndprize       

Sgàire Uallas                       Marbhrann MhicCodruim Dheireannaich

 Judge’s Comment

San dàrna àite, ath-sgrìobhadh sean sgeulachd MhicCriomain a thug orm dàrna shealladh a thoirt air cultar nan Gàidheal. Seann ìomhaigheachd ga ath-dhealbhachadh san linn sa bheil sinn beò is a sheall dhuinn, mar a chanas sinn sa chànan eile, gu bheil sinn relevant fhathast. Bha deagh bhriathrachas air an deagh cleachdadh san dàn seo, cuideachd. Bhiodh Dwelly na ghlòraidh.

In second place, a rewriting of an old tale, MacCrimmon, that gave me a second perspective on Gaelic culture. Ancient imagery redrawn for our times, which demonstrates to us all, as the cool kids are saying, that we’re still relevant. There was some terrific vocabulary in this one, too. Dwelly would be cock-a-hoop.

1st prize                   

Deborah Moffatt       Beatha Ùr

 Judge’s Comment

Gu dearbh, bha an rud mu dheireadh sin anns an dàn a shoirbhich as motha is sin ‘Beatha Ùr’, far an do pheantadh ìomhaigh soilleir den bhàrd a’ coimhead a-mach às an uinneig is a’ dlùth-sgrùdadh nan nàbaidhean a’ tighinn is a’ falbh, a’ lorg cèill anns na mion-chleachdaidhean aca. ’S e an t-sùil gheur sin a thug a’ bhuaidh as motha orm is an dàn a dh’fhàg mi le ceistean nam inntinn fhìn fhathast. Sin cumachd sàr-bhàrdachd.

Without doubt, it was the latter that secured a victory for the winning poem, ‘Beatha Ùr’ where a crystalline image of the poet was painted as he or she stared out of the window, scrutinising the comings and goings of the neighbours and their idiosyncracies. It was this keen eye that affected me most, personally, and this the poem which left me with questions in my mind, after reading. That’s the power of excellent poetry.

Short Story Category

 Overview by Short Story Judge Olga Wojtas

It’s been a privilege to judge this year’s short story competition. The standard of entries was so high that my “short” list was 18 out of the 50 submissions. I did assess entries by particular criteria, including the impact of the opening, the appropriateness of the language to the story, and whether it was engaging throughout. But judging something creative is never an exact science, so to those who didn’t make the finalists this time round, please don’t be too despondent, and send your work out there – there are lots of opportunities.

One word of warning: I didn’t take this into account in the judging, but I came across quite a few mis-spellings and grammatical mistakes. You want to maximise your chances when you submit to magazines and competitions, so please check and check again beforehand!

Olga Wojtas

Commended

Daniel Murphy  Getting Upset Over Nothing

Judge’s comment

Using “you” as the point of view is an underused form which can be very effective. In this story, “you” is an adult son who suddenly finds himself responsible for his mother who has dementia. The story is predominantly light and humorous, focusing on the son trying to deal with the situation. It leads an unexpectedly moving ending, which is achieved so well that the change in mood doesn’t remotely jar.

Highly Commended

Gaynor Jones  What 20p Will Get You in the Year of Our Lord,1996

Judge’s comment

This story, set in a convent school tuck shop, gets straight into the action with a good strong narrative voice. It’s very immediate, with great use of dialogue between the teenagers. And it’s perfectly paced: midway through, we think we’re very clever because we’ve worked something out, when it’s the author’s clever writing that leads us to the discovery. It’s open-ended but optimistic.

3rdPrize

William Sutton  Guilt Written

 Judge’s comment

The protagonist is a writer, pen name Dougie O’Dowd, and he’s not an attractive character. His wife turns out to be cast in the Lady Macbeth mould. There’s no reason why the main character has to be likeable, and this keeps up the interest from beginning to end with a judicious use of quotes and Dougie’s own writing. A nice touch is several changes of font. Midway through, we can see where it’s going, but it continues to intrigue because of the quirky writing and because we don’t know how it’s going to end.

2ndPrize

Steve May The Man In The Corner

 Judge’s comment

This is a good example of less being more. There was a 2000 word limit and the vast majority of submission were around 1900 words. But this story packed a real punch at under 900 words and wouldn’t have worked so well if it had been expanded. It’s got an omniscient narrator, so the point of view shifts several times.This works well since the key character is only ever observed rather than us knowing anything about him.

1st Prize

Montague Chambers Going Home

 Judge’s comment

This is a very touching story, most of it told from the point of view of a small boy who has serious health problems. It’s a great voice, very well handled, revealing a child who is bright and completely lacking in self-pity. The first-person voice is also very effective in getting information across: as adults, we understand more about the child’s condition than he does himself, and we also discover that he has drastically misconstrued information about himself. There is a sad ending, but we empathise so much with the protagonist that it’s not as sad as it appears.

Poetry Category

Judge Stephen Watt

 Highly Commended

Donald Adamson  Tenterhuiks

Judge’s comment

Without disclosing which sport – although I strongly believe  it to be football – this was a wonderfully written poem in Scots slang, grasping the nervous energy one feels awaiting a score-line. The nostalgic delivery still manages to remain contemporary in its description, and ambiguous enough for the reader to draw their own conclusions.

 Highly Commended

Philip Burton  Garlands, Nut, Figures and Grace

 Judge’s comment

Formidable story-telling, bringing both context and a dark fairy-tale to the origins of the Britannia Coconut Dancers of Lancashire. Enchanting language, layout, rhythm and rhyme contribute towards a fascinating poem which welcomingly left field in its subject matter.

 Highly Commended

Ann MacLaren   title withheld because entrant does not wish poem to be published online

Judge’s comment

Split into three sub-poems, this was a real favourite of mine – and similar to my selected first prize poem in its eavesdropping delivery. This type of poetry has a brilliantly Scottish, tongue-in-cheek quality, laughing inwardly at itself but also capturing some of the daft patter one hears when commuting. Right up my street.

3d Prize

Jilly O’Brien  Now That I’m No Longer Dying

Judge’s comment

The brutal honesty of this poem is both effective and affective. The reinstated, habitual lifestyle one returns to following a spell of serious illness is something which I am positive many families have had to handle; the hegemony shifting and leaving both parties feeling isolated and alien to one another in the illness’s aftermath. The tempo of this piece hurtles towards the closing lines – “Four weeks of limbo in a floral gown, sore machines out of date magazines needles biopsies careful sympathy and staring at the ceiling”, before its use of normality as a crashing conclusion. A well-crafted and heartfelt poem deserving of its third place.

2ndprize

Elaine Webster  Living The Language

Judge’s comment

There were several poems which embraced the Scots language, but none which quite intensified the way this poem does. It is a timeline which scrutinises the way language impacts upon lives through learning, challenges, dead-ends, music, experimenting and delivering. The gradual drip-feed of Scots words throughout the poem which lead to that thunderous final stanza works incredibly well; almost like one is trying to establish their purpose or talent, and how best to express this. Here, we have “new-borns in water” / “grannies” “cradle the rare phrase” / and “teens” “switching to Scots”, all “seeking sinewy sounds” until the tongue has grafted, loosened, and is finally free to be natural. A very clever piece.

1stPrize

Mary Wight  Fish

 Judge’s comment

I found this vibrant, eavesdropping poem incredibly endearing as it rotated like a slideshow with images of friendship, romance, humour, labour and dreams. These subjects are quite ordinary in any existence, but the use of language complimented the unity and affection between the three main characters: “handbags and haunches settled” / “laughter rose in gusts” / “this team”. The envious conclusion appears to embrace a two-fold jealousy, delighting in lines such as “ash and blackened weeds fell”, capturing not only the green-eyed yearning for love but also a simmering craving to be part of this group of friends’ pack. The pendulum delivery of this poem swings between the past and the contemporary, revelling in its secrets of who the women are and why the narrator remains at a distance. I returned to this poem time and time again, quite enchanted and in love with it.

Tagraidhean gan sireadh son co-fharpais na Gàidhlig aig Co-nasgadh nan Sgrìobhaichean (Alba)

Roinn na Gàidhlig airson Co-fharpais Grian-stad an Earraich 2019 aig Co-nasgadh Sgrìobhaichean na h-Alba

1mh duais £100, 2na duais £25, 3s duais £10

’S ann airson bàrdachd no grad-fhicsean (flash fiction) ann an Gàidhlig a tha an co-fharpais seo. Thathar fosgailte do thagraichean sam bith: chan fheumar a bhith na bhall de Cho-nasgadh nan Sgrìobhaichean (Alba). Faodar uiread is a thogras sibh de thagraidhean bàrdachd / grad-fhicsein a chur a-steach. Cha bu chòir do dhàn sam bith a bhith na b’ fhaide na dà fhichead loidhne a dh’fhaid, a bharrachd air an tiotal. Sgrìobhaibh uiread nan loidhnichean aig bonn na duilleige, le ur toil.Cha bu chòir do ghrad-fhicsean a bhith na b’ fhaide na 500 facal a dh’fhaid. Sgrìobhaibh faclan san iomlain aig bonn na duilleige, le ur toil. ’S e an aon chìs ge b’ e bàrdachd no grad-fhicsean a chuireadh sibh a-steach agus thathar ceadaichtesgrìobhadh den dà ghnè a chur a-steach, cho fad ’s a phàighear na cìsean ceart son gach tagradh. ’S e Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, Co-òrdanaiche na Gàidhlig aig a’ Cho-nasgadh, a bhios na britheamh os cionn co-fharpaisean na Gàidhlig.

’S iad £4 cìsean airson ciad dhàn no phìos grad-fhicsein agus £3 airson gach pìos eile ga chur a-steach, bho shin a-mach. Airson làn-fhiosrachaidh air ciamar a chuirear tagraidhean a-steach, faicibh làrach Co-nasgadh nan Sgrìobhaichean (Alba)  Rules  no cuiribh fios gu acclarke6@btopenworld.com

 

Vernal Equinox Competition Judges

The three judges for the FWS Vernal Equinox competition, deadline Mar 26th, have been announced.

Poetry Section

This will be judged as usual by the Makar in post for the year, who this year is Andy Jackson.

Andy is from Salford but has lived in Scotland since 1992. He is author of two poetry collections including A Beginner’s Guide To Cheating (Red Squirrel Press, 2015) and editor of several anthologies including Double Bill (Red Squirrel Press, 2014) and Whaleback City: the Poetry of Dundee and its Hinterland with W N Herbert (Dundee University Press, 2013). He hosts the Scotia Extremis project with Brian Johnstone. He also curates the New Boots and Pantisocracies blog of political poems, again with W N Herbert, and the Otwituaries blog.

Andy was asked what he would be looking for in the competition entries. He says:

‘What I’m hoping for: I would like to see poems that go places that other poems haven’t yet been, using rich and expressive contemporary language, whether Scots or English. I’m hoping to see Scotland’s poets pushing the language and art of poetry forward rather than borrowing too much from more traditional styles and forms, but above all I’m hoping, as we all do when reading a poem, for something that makes me go…’Wow!’

Short Story Section

iii) We are delighted that Colin Will, new editor for Red Squirrel Press’s Postbox Press, has agreed to judge the short story section.

Colin was born in Edinburgh in 1942 and lives in Dunbar. He retired from a career in scientific librarianship in 2002, and he’s been a prolific writer ever since, with eight poetry collections and a short story pamphlet (Getting On) published. He was Makar to the Federation in 2010. He is Editor at Postbox Press, the literary fiction imprint of Red Squirrel Press. He chairs the Board of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival (see under other members’ news below). These days, while still writing poems, he concentrates on short stories, aiming to have a full-length collection published in 2018.

Asked what he will be looking for in the competition entries, Colin says:

I’m looking for freshness in short story entries, and the avoidance of clichés. I like clarity of writing. I hope to be surprised, but in a good way. I like conciseness. I look forward to reading all the entries, and to finding quality writing in them. Tell me a story.’

Flash Fiction Section

We are likewise delighted that Gavin Inglis has agreed to judge the flash fiction Gavin has been writing and publishing flash fiction for thirteen years. His work has appeared in magazines such as 4’33”, Product, 404 Ink and The One o’Clock Gun, and he taught a popular flash fiction course at the University of Edinburgh for eight years. He is known for his energetic live performances of very short stories, often set to music, and works professionally in digital, interactive fiction. Asked what he will be looking for in the competition entries, Colin says:

In choosing a winning flash, I’ll be looking for economy of language, emotional impact, and something that implies a larger story beyond its narrow bounds.

DEADLINE EXTENDED -Vernal Equinox Competition 2016

Federation of Writers Scotland Vernal Equinox Competition 2016

PLEASE NOTE: DEADLINE EXTENDED UNTIL 31 MARCH 2016

Prizes in each category: 1st prize £50, 2nd prize £25, 3rd prize £10

Rules of Entry

  1. There will be three categories, poetry, short stories and flash fiction. Entrants may submit an unlimited number of entries for each or for all three categories provided they are accompanied by the correct entry fee.
  2. No entrant may receive more than one prize in each category.
  3. Entry is open: you do not have to be a member of the Federation of Writers (Scotland)
  4. In the poetry category you may submit an unlimited number of entries. No poem should exceed forty lines in length excluding the title. Please indicate the number of lines at the end of the poem.
  5. In the prose category you may submit an unlimited number of stories of between 1,500-2,000 words in length. Please indicate the word count at the end of the story.
  6. In the flash fiction category you may submit an unlimited number of pieces not exceeding 500 words in length. Please indicate the word count at the end of the piece.
  7. Work submitted must be in English or Scots and must be your own work (no translations).
  8. No work submitted should have been previously published/broadcast/e-published or posted on-line in any form.
  9. Entries must be typewritten, double-spaced (single-spacing is acceptable for poems) on one side only of A4 paper using at least a 12pt font and, if sent by email, sent as a Word, rtf or pdf document. Please number each page. No name or other mark which could identify the author should appear on any page of the entry which should be accompanied by a separate cover sheet setting out your name, address and email address, the category or categories entered, the number and title(s) of entries and the total fee due.
  10. If you are sending your entry by post please use a paperclip to secure pages NOT a staple and send two copies of each entry.
  11. Entries will not be returned so please keep a copy of your entry.
  12. No alteration can be made to an entry once submitted.
  13. The judges’ decision is final. The judges cannot enter into any correspondence regarding entries. The organisers reserve the right to withhold prizes in any category if the number of entries received is insufficient or if entries received are judged not to meet the required standard.
  14. Closing date for the competition is midnight on 21 March 2016.
  15. Entry fee is £3 per poem, £3 per flash fiction piece, £5 per short story.
  16. Failure to comply with the above rules or to pay the appropriate entry fee will result in automatic disqualification.
  17. Successful entrants will be notified by May 31 2016.

How to enter

By email

Email your entry with a separate cover sheet (see 9 above) as a Word, pdf or rtf document to acclarke6@btopenworld.com to arrive by midnight on 31 March 2016. Email submission of entries is preferred.

By post

Send your entry (two copies) with a separate cover sheet (see 9 above) to:

Competition Secretary

0/1 25 Craigmillar Rd

Glasgow

G42 9JZ

All entrants: Send the appropriate fee (see 15 above) by bank transfer to Account No.12874968, sort code 80-22-60 (name of account Federation of Writers (Scotland), Bank of Scotland) using as identification your name followed by ‘comp16’. If you are not able to send money by bank transfer please send a cheque or postal order (pounds sterling only) made out to The Federation of Writers (Scotland) by post to the address above.

Email entries will be acknowledged on receipt.

Postal entrants wishing confirmation that their entries have been received should enclose a stamped addressed postcard. 

No entries will be entered in the competition until the entry fee has been received

PLEASE NOTE: Proof of posting does not mean proof of delivery.