We are so excited to finally announce the prize winners of the TWJ microfiction and mentoring competition. Our judge, Roanna, said she had a very hard time choosing. Our first prize winner, who will receive an iPad, is Sarah Fallon for 'Crow', and our second prize (a Kindle) goes to Nikolajs Ozolins for 'Gradations'. The judge's report is included below. Josh and Kate would like to congratulate everyone who submitted and worked with us. Thank you and Happy Writing!
All seven stories were a joy to read. The skillful writing in each of them made it very hard to decide on a winner. I was particularly impressed by the luminous experimentation with memory in The Farm, the clever, satirical tone in The Great Village Bake Off, the sustained and complex exploration of place through dialogue in Cavebird, the interesting and delicate probing of our relationship with animals in Bite, and the persistent study of a single character’s motivations through the expression of interiority in Monster, Lies. But there can be only one winner, and one story in second place. They are, as follows:
First place: Crow
The narrative voice in Crow is so wonderfully compelling that we as readers don’t question the imaginative leap we are being asked to perform. Once the main character tells us, “I’m not a crow 24/7. I turn into one sometimes” we are off into that numinous space where Kafka once lived, and where storytellers of many cultures have lived and continue to live. Underneath this layer of skillful storytelling, Crow holds a darker stream that meditates upon the idea and consequences of infidelity within a love relationship. It is the narrative tension between the possibilities of flight – whether crazily imaginative or more realistically rooted in the avian experience – and the constraints of being tied to a broken earth, that makes Crow a joy to read and ruminate over. I congratulate Sarah Fallon on creating an immensely engaging piece of work!
Second place: Gradations
The structural intricacy, and the dexterous handling of time in Gradations make it a very powerful piece of writing. The narrator is a witness, locating himself 40 kms outside Swan Hill, on red sand, and then recovering a moment from the past, polishing it, and holding it up for us to examine in detail. This analepsis casts the narrator in a brinded hue, even as it stretches time out to maximum tautness, and places us as readers right there in that observed moment on that highway, as a Professor and a truck driver have an unlikely interaction. There is music in these sentences, adding further nuance to the exploration of time passing and yet standing still, to the consideration of multiple realities and other worlds. The interesting use of footnotes, especially the first one as a tangential storyline rather than as the more routine evidence, is another aspect of this work that makes it stand out. I congratulate Nikolajs on creating an impressive piece of work.