Competition Winner – Short Fiction: ‘Dad and the Romans’ by Diana Beharrell

Creative WorksWe are pleased to present the winning entry in the genre of Short Fiction from our 2015 Creative Writing Competition, ‘Dad and the Romans’ by Diana Beharrell.

Reading this story was a simple pleasure for us editors. It has a graceful pace, and a strikes a warm and, at times, wistful note.

Our fiction judge thought that “‘Dad and the Romans’ offers a thoughtful contemplation of life and death through a depiction of a trip to some ruins by a father and son. It has a lovely shape and a good eye for detail and place description. There’s a layered depth and metaphorical richness to this understated story, which excels in showing rather than telling.”

Dad and the Romans

We are off for an outing, Dad and I. We have left the slice of a house on the Market Place, passing the pele tower, stony and windowless, standing close up to St Andrew’s. Passing the Blue Bell; passing the gracious homes of Victorian industrialists; passing the bungalows of the polite and the retired; and soon out of Corbridge entirely, finding the turning off the old Hexham Road and swinging left into the car park of the Roman site.

Dad points to the disabled parking bay near the entrance. There is only sixty pence off concessions, and Dad is very definite about requiring a guidebook. I push through the swing doors, holding them open for Dad to follow, and find the site spread out in front of us, reduced to its foundations. We can see little more than a two-dimensional outline, the stones pilfered long ago. Where the fence borders the site and separates it from the field beyond, the foundations disappear underground, and sheep are now grazing and lambs skitter in the early summer sunshine a foot or so above the Roman remains.

‘The trouble is, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to sit’, says Dad. He looks around. He stoops and has to peer up to see what is on offer here, straining like a tortoise sticking its head out from its shell.

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Competition Winner – Poetry: ‘Drag King’ by Lauren Merin

Creative WorksWe are pleased to present the winning entry in Poetry from our 2015 Creative Writing Competition, ‘Drag King’ by Lauren Merin.

This poem really stood out for us. It pushes language to its limits and paints a vivid picture, and it was a delicious read.

Our judge felt that this poem crafts language beautifully, and is well-balanced and structurally sound. She found the poet’s use of language to be exploratory, exciting and fresh, and that the language is used in an original way to describe the darkness and glitz of a particular world, where as a reader, we enter on many levels. The poem pushes the boundaries of literal meanings without losing the sense, the core of what the poem sets out to explore. What engages the reader is the poet’s ability to look at how language can be used to express complicated ideas and the poet’s attention to detail. The final line in the poem, ‘I can see you by sequin,’ summarises the multifaceted sphere of this accomplished poem. 

We would like to note that this poem uses a particular structural form which our blog platform does not allow us to replicate. Thus, we have included a photo of below the poem so the reader may see how it is intended to look on the page.

Drag King

Shoals of shaved heads
An asymmetrical pin
Plunged through
Thin skin
You kiss


Silver glint of slit lids
A hip-switching swish


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Competition Winner – Flash Fiction: ‘Name for Peace’ by Charlene Edley

Creative WorksThis week on Words, Pauses, Noises, we are pleased to present our first winning entry from our 2015 Creative Writing Competition in the Flash Fiction genre: ‘Name for Peace’ by Charlene Edley.

This piece offers a snapshot of a country on the cusp of change, and a narrator struggling to reconcile a dark past with a bright future. The sense of a shifting tide is strong, and the voice is effective in conveying a sense of uncertainty, and a mingling of fear and hope. 

Name for Peace

Why hello there. You must be new to this place. How did I know? No it’s not from your dress, you dress like a native of this land. What gave it away was your eyes my friend. Yes, I can tell from your eyes. You see they are still full of joy and hope, they are not experienced as mine are nor are they filled with knowledge. Please forgive me, I did not mean to startle you. Here, take a seat.

It all started several years ago. I was simply a new-born of this country. Unbeknown to me, the generation before mine was to be the last to experience the divide. My birth and countless other children that began to breathe the sweet air of the nation for the first time was the mark of the end. We were brought up with the idea of endless possibilities and change.

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