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Editorial

18th September 2018

Deciding on a theme for Hour of Writes is a tricky business. It must be precise enough to inspire writers to create pieces with clear connections to the theme, but broad enough that each entry will be unique. Of all things Attack And Receive could have been inspired by, it came from a playing card in the franchise that dominated my childhood: Yu-Gi-Oh. With such an aggressive phrase, I was hoping for war, embittered couples, and intrigue. I was delighted to find all this, alongside some whimsy.

I was immediately drawn to Entry 3155, which explores a situation too many of us will be familiar with. It reminds us that those who suffer from violence often turn to violence, that this cycle is not easily broken. Entry 3155 also shows that there can be a lot of power in simple language.

Entry 3160, Red Poppy Boy (gets what’s coming to him), has a lovely rhythm that drives the reader through a story of addiction and consequence. This can be seen especially in the second stanza, with: ‘an A1 stealer / all state receiver / a total syringe believer’. Successfully employing rhythm always makes a poem more compelling.

With Entry 3163, we see a regular structure and rhythm used to great effect. The images were very vivid, essential for communicating a story with such a degree of movement and as many changes in scene. I particularly enjoyed the shift in scale in: 

‘Zipping through the midges and the dragonflies / We crest the spikes and fall into a murderous scrum’,

making the poem more dynamic and cinematic. 

For me, Entry 3159 was the obvious winner. Gentle and concise, the piece takes us ‘inch by inch’ through a race. The poem is dense with imagery, and it is a credit to the author that they evoked such a strength of feeling in me with so few lines. I keep returning to: 

‘The last water gone / Like legs / with nothing left / except blisters, cramp, / tiredness beyond enduring’

drawn by its subtlety of rhythm and simplicity of language.

Thank you to everyone who entered. Judging this competition was a wonderful excuse to sit down, have a cup of tea, and immerse myself in varied poetry and prose. You each responded to the prompt differently, making this process an absolute pleasure. I hope you all continue to write great work for Hour of Writes, and for yourselves.


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About The Judge

Jack Cooper works at the University of Oxford, in a laboratory that uses the sexual courtship of fruitflies as a model to understand core features of development and behaviour. His poetry has been longlisted for the National Poetry Competition, and shortlisted for The New Poets Prize and Segora Poetry Competition amongst others. Stephen King, Final Fantasy, and K-Pop are the great loves of his life.

You can find him on Twitter at @JackCooper666, and on Instagram at @JackCooper0696


Ephemera

Watch me drag and scrape,
decrepit, weak natterjack
short-legged failure of a disposition.
Distinctive gait through life.
Deformed awkward strut, in contract to the
hopping of my peers.
Dental inspections.
Mouthly decay.
Unbalanced budgets.
Declining stock prices.
Deadlines unmet.
Imposter. Imposter. Imposter.

Out of nowhere comes
sudden burst of hope
Tuesday afternoon,
The heaping
pile of life that overspilled
my platter seemed
unachievable.

Out of nowhere strikes
distant chorus of the dawn birds,
Scoop up, re-mould
Little globs of failure.
And look.
No one has shouted at me
For last week’s delays.

The world has not ended.


Recent ShowNotes


Victorian… Parlour… Games

Last week's competition

Last Week's Winner!

Winning entry by countenance
Victorian Parlour Games


We are four in the parlour
Mabel, Marian, Elsie and I.
It is March 7, 1876, evening time.
Supper settles
and the gaslights communicate
their realities in mobile shadowed tones.
We are as tableaux vivants as I sign;
One word, three syllables.
All fingers and thumbs.

They give me;
full concentration
almost adoration
steadfast salivation,
As I charade my life's distraction
like a dog and bone.
My Notes