An entire Tale in 100 words. Exactly
2023 International Competition winner announced
The JM Wilson Memorial Literary Dinner on October 2rd, the 188th anniversary of his death, took place this week in Berwick.
The annual challenge to produce a Wilson’s Tale in 100 words again attracted entries from across the world.
The entertainment included the humorous recital of Doug Harris’s entry in limerick form
2317 – Doug Harris ‘Remembered’
There once was a fellow from Berwick
Who wasn’t a Hinduist Cleric.
His parents said; “John,
You had better get-gone
‘Coz your poetry’s too esoteric”.
So he travelled to make himself wiser,
Till at once his financial advisor
Said; “Wilson the poet
Must cease or you’ll blow it”,
So he joined with his home Advertiser.
When Sarah said; “Bring home the bacon!”
He sure did, working hard, no mistakin’.
But his hidden disorder –
(One more tale of the border);
Killed him young, though his memory’s unshaken.
The ending? The sound of him thuddin’,
And this story is similar (sudden!) …
The judges commented “Very well put together, with strong elements about Wilson’s Tales’ creation, rather than being a Tale in itself. If only there had been space for an entire last verse.
Several other entries were read, leading up to the best placed 2, which are:
Third place – Paul Mein – ‘Djinn’
April crisp, blue, sharp after the storm. Wrack and wreck of seaweed, detritus from the depths, mounded along the shore. The sea, sucked back, fights rearguard actions against distant rocks.
The girl, red wellies, looking for treasures – shells and sea-polished glass.
Nestled in storm ripped kelp, a bottle, tinged bluegreen, cork sealed. Inside, a paper, writing faded. A message in a bottle? She scarcely believes it.
“Mummy, daddy, look what I found…”
Inside, the djinn waits. It knows human curiosity. Soon it will take a long awaited breath. No wishes this time.
The father’s hand loosens the stopper….
Second place – Kevin Archer- Isolde: Dead Woman Walking
1352.. Young Isolde of Lowick is standing in the cavernous nave of Durham Cathedral, exhausted from the 75-mile journey south along the Devil’s Causeway.
Just in time for her own funeral.
The bell tolls. Through her tears she watches as the priest chants in Latin, slams closed the holy book, and twelve robed bishops smash her flickering candle on the stone flags.
Excommunication over, she steps out into a summer’s day to face her future as a dead woman. Withholding the tithe, standing for justice. Worth it?
She looks towards the heavens, feels the breeze on her face.
And the winning entry came from David Turnbull
She Sells Seashells
A fisherman’s wife went to the lopsided hut by the seashore to purchase a shell for a spell. The beguiling witch of the tides sat cross legged on her porch with her cormorant familiar perched blackly on the rickety roof.
“My husband is unfaithful,” explained the wife. “I want to fill his belly with a squirming brace of eels. Perhaps a seagull could peck out his eyes?”
The witch produced a periwinkle and whispered a potent rhyme, reminding herself to alert the fisherman when he came creeping through the dunes at midnight to cover her in his deliciously salty kisses.
The overall judges comments for this year:
We found the standard of entries continues to climb, and we were particularly pleased to note how many entries went beyond the simplest storylines to bring out a richer Tale, with added depth and the thought provoking layers that never troubled nineteenth century writers or readers.
Once again it was difficult to choose between the comic, the dramatic, the disturbing, and the narratives from life. It has been extremely difficult to make choices, and will be more so to decide the overall winner.
All the entrants are to be congratulated for their imagination, and their ability to create a literary symphony in a mere 100 words.