contests

The Pokrass Prize Results

Our Flash Fiction Festival Curator, Meg Pokrass wasn’t able to be involved in the Festival this year, but she set a prompt and judged the entries for the Pokrass Prize.Thanks to all the festival go-ers who participated. Writers were asked to respond to the picture here and to the random words – night, exposure, spots, star, golden, normal, heavy and write a micro, max 150 words. There were so many very inventive pieces. The winning pieces published here, will also be published in our fifth festival anthology, out by the end of this year.

Meg said this about the stories and the winners:

“It was fun diving in and mulling over these incredible entries. Judging a contest at this high level of writing is very hard and at the same time, exhilarating. It is a thrill to see how much good writing is going on with the Flash Fiction Festival writers. I am sad not to be with you this year, but through reading these wonderful stories, I once again feel deeply connected to the writers at FFF. There were many strong and original micros that it did feel impossible to choose only three. And yet, three had to be chosen… So here you go!

The winning story, “Miracle Grow”, is a dark and surreal story about a damaged marriage fast-growing like damaging weeds under the floorboards. This writer’s use of compression and stunning sensory details won me over and I couldn’t look away. “The Horses, Beneath” is a poetic piece filled with brilliant, startling imagery and the resulting effect is mythical. Past and present merge, and the reader is thrust into a strange, illuminating yet invisible universe that lives beneath or feet. “Our Own Personal Universe” is a story that brought the prompt to life for me in a deeply emotional and cinematic way. A happy love story that shines like a star in the darkest of nights.”

Winner Jane Salmons with ‘Miracle Grow’

Jane Salmons is from Stourbridge in the West Midlands. She was a teacher in the sixth form college sector for nearly three decades and now works part time as a consultant teacher trainer and private tutor. Her poetry pamphlet Enter GHOST was published with dancing girl press in 2022. Her debut poetry collection The Quiet Spy was also published in 2022 with Pindrop Press. New to writing flash and micro-fiction, Jane has had stories published with MacQueen’s Quarterly and The Ekphrastic Review. She is thrilled and astounded to have won The Pokrass Prize.


Miracle Grow

Splinter, crack, crash! Without waking his snoring, lump of a wife, Bob grabbed his dressing gown and hurried out into the night. The sickly scent of summer phlox hung in the air; beneath the moon, the lawn glowed white; the rhododendrons stared accusingly, as Bob scuttled down the path, towards his beloved greenhouse. Smash! Another pane shattered. Through the jagged roof, a mass of unruly stalks wound upwards into the starry sky. ‘What in the name of God is going on?’ gasped Bob, sliding back the door and finding hundreds of thick, green shoots pushing through the slabs. Slack-jawed, he saw leaves the size of spades, a shower of giant golden flowers, furiously unfurl. Tomatoes like melons swelled and ripened: green, orange, vermilion, black – a mouldy mess of splitting skins and monstrous oozing seeds. Through a chink in the bedroom curtain, Bob’s wife watched, smiling.

Runner Up, Sharon Telfer with ‘The Horses, Beneath’.

Sharon Telfer lives in East Yorkshire, in the north of England. She won the Bath Flash Fiction Award in June 2016 with ‘Terra Incognita’ and again in February 2020 with ‘Eight Spare Bullets’. She has also won the Reflex Flash Fiction Prize. Her flash has been selected for Best Small Fictions 2021, the 2020 and 2019 ‘BIFFY50’ lists, and Best Microfiction 2019. She was awarded the Word Factory/New Writing North Short Story Apprenticeship in 2018, and placed second in the Bath Short Story Award 2020. She also has a short story in Test Signal, an anthology of contemporary northern writing (Bloomsbury/Dead Ink, 2021). Her debut flash fiction collection, The Map Waits, was published by Reflex Press in 2021 and is currently longlisted for The 2022 Edge Hill Prize for short fiction. She tweets @sharontelfer and posts terrible photos on Instagram, @sharontelferwriter.

The Horses, Beneath

She hears them clearest when the house is still – kids at school, husband at work, laptop open waiting for the host to let her in.

She’d watched last year’s dig on TV, family jumbled on the plumped sofa, the paint tang lingering. The whole estate had. The white tent like a murder scene. The camera nosing in as gloves brushed earth from wheels and weapons and bones.
“That’s not under our house, is it, Mummy?”
“Course not, sweetie. Ours wasn’t built there.”
A whinny ripples her wineglass, the pristine laminate prances under her feet. The next street is Shield Avenue, leading to Warrior Close. Their home, an Executive, stands on Chariot Way.

When they come, as she knows they must – hooves trampling smooth tarmac – she’s in the off-plan kitchen – letterbox clashing – blinds raised to the moonlight and the hazy Pleiades – that ancient insistent pounding hammering at the shining front door.

Runner Up, Tracy Fells with ‘Our Own Personal Universe’
Tracy Fells was the 2017 Regional Winner (Europe and Canada) for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her short fiction has been widely published in print journals and online, including: Granta, Brittle Star, Reflex Fiction, Popshot, Firewords and the Bath Flash Fiction Award anthologies (2019 & 2020). She has been shortlisted for the Bridport and Fish Flash Fiction prizes, placed in the Reflex Fiction competition and Highly Commended in the NFFD Micro competition (2016 & 2020). Her novella-in-flash, Hairy on the Inside was short listed in the 2021 Bath Novella in Flash Award and short listed for the 2022 Rubery Prize, in the fiction category. She also writes novels and was a finalist in the 2018 Richard & Judy ‘Search for a Bestseller’ competition. Tracy tweets as @theliterarypig.

Our Own Personal Universe

We met at Woodstock, then married late fall. As we grew up, the world regressed. It was Suzy’s idea to escape off-grid to our cabin in the woods. Technology free. What else did we need but each other?

Without electricity our life is simple, almost silent except for the persistent background song. We tear up rugs, listen to the creaking wooden walls, and finally dig under the porch. There we find a tin box, the source of the singing.

Suzy whispers, ‘Open it.’

Inside is the same tar-black night that surrounds us, where deep within we spy the beeswax candle of our cabin window, a beacon. On the count of three we plunge in our hands.

Above us in the star-encrusted sky appear two giant wrinkled hands. Wiggling our fingers like magicians conjures a cooling breeze. ‘We are gods,’ says my wife of over fifty years, my forever singing girl.

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January 8th Flash Fiction Festival ‘Throwdown’ Winners

For the New Year, there were two contests for the Great Flash Fiction Festival Throwdown challenges on January 8th. Thank you to Electra Rhodes and Karen Jones for setting the challenges and judging the entries. Electra’s writing challenge was based on the painting ‘Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh and Karen’s was based on Claude Monet’s ‘The Poppy Field’. Mugs, shown in the stack here, featuring these paintings, form part of the winners prize and both our judges created great prompts. Our winners also receive £30 cash and publication and two runners-up a book from Ad Hoc Fiction plus publication in the Flash Fiction Festival Anthology due out soon.

Electra and Karen have now chosen their winners
Electra said:

photo by Serge Van Neck on Unsplash

“It was a pleasure to read this collation of stories and to pay them all some thorough attention. There was lots of rich and evocative language, some delicious description, and some clever characterisation. I really enjoyed reading them aloud to see how they sounded and landed. Thank you for making it so hard to choose.

In the end I plumped for one where I liked the way the piece accreted new layers throughout, and built and built and built. The language was clean and the characters effectively drawn in few words, and it was laced with a melancholy and regret which was subtly done but which stayed with me afterwards. So ‘The Lost Man in Van Gogh’s Starry Night’ is the winner”
(This story was written by Marzia Rahman from Bangladesh.
Marzia Rahman is a Bangladeshi fiction writer and translator of short stories and poetry. Her short fictions have appeared in many magazines and journals worldwide. Her novella in flash, Life on the Edges, was longlisted in the Bath Novella in Flash Award in 2018. She is also a painter.

“The runner-up is the one that made me laugh, I’m a bit of a sobersides and I went into the reading of all the entries ready to experience a range of emotions but without an expectation I’d find something I thought really funny. I admit it’s quite a dark humour and I’m not entirely sure whether or not it’s an unreliable narrator telling a tall tale, or what exactly did or didn’t happen, but, again, the story stayed with me afterwards. I admit too, to being a bit of a sucker for punny titles so, ‘Poetic Justice’ is my runner-up.”
(This story was written by Marie Gethins from Ireland)
Marie Gethins’ flash fiction is widely published in magazines and journals and she has won or been placed in many short fiction awards. Marie is a Pushcart and Best of the Short Fictions nominee and an editor for Splonk literary magazine in Ireland.

Karen said:

photo by Corina-ardeleanu-sWlxCweDzzs-unsplash-1

The stories for the prompt were amazing – I really struggled to choose a winner and runner up.

First place: ‘Restoration’ a great take on the prompt and I loved the way the sections slotted together, just like the bowl in the story. The use of colours was beautifully done.
(This story was written by Corrine Leith from the UK)
Corrine Leith lives in rural England with a cat, a dog and two ponies. She writes a mix of flash fiction, poetry and children’s stories which have been published in print and online. She is a previous winner of The Potteries Prize for Flash Fiction and was runner-up in the latest annual Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition.

Runner up: ‘I See Red’. Using different shades of this colour was a perfect way to tell this story. The anger and hurt builds through the sections and I felt I could really see and feel everything the mc went through.
(This story was written by Sudha Balagopal from the US)
Sudha Balagopal’s short fiction has been published in journals around the world, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fiction and will be included in Best Micro Fictions in 2022. Her novella in flash, Things I Can’t Tell Amma was highly commended in the 2021 Bath Flash Fiction Award and published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2021. When she’s not writing, she’s teaching yoga.

Many congratulations to all four writers! We’re looking forward to seeing them all in print in Flash Fiction Festival Anthology Vol Four.

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Winner of The Great Flash Fiction Festival Throwdown, October contest

Participants at the first of the new series of flash fiction festival days in October had the opportunity to take part in a mini flash fiction contest. Our contests for this round of the five day series are inspired by the British TV show – The Great Pottery Throwdown. It is renowned for one of the judges, who is moved to tears by the wonderful creations the amateur potters make. Read more on our post about the contest.

We are giving away mugs and a £30 cash prize plus publication for a winning story each month plus a book giveaway from Ad Hoc Fiction for the runner up. We ask people to write stories that make an emotional impact.

Our first judge from the October festival day was Diane Simmons who based her prompt on a mug featuring Van Gogh’s sunflowers. She selected ‘Inside My Father’s Head’ by UK writer Ali McGrane. Ali McGrane won one of the Signature contests in our last series with her story ‘This is Not A Story About A Rainstick’ and was selected The Winner of Winners of the Signature Challenge for the same story by our judge team at the end of the series. Many congratulations to Ali who co-incidentally will also have her novella in flash The Listening Project up on preorder with Ad Hoc Fiction later this week. The Listening Project was shortlisted by Michelle Elvy in the Bath Novella in Flash Award in 2020.
Bio
Ali McGrane lives and writes between the sea and the moor. Her work has appeared in anthologies and online, including Ellipsis Zine, FlashBack Fiction, Janus Literary, Splonk, and on shortlists including the Bath Flash Fiction Award. Her Bath shortlisted flash novella, The Listening Project, is forthcoming from Ad Hoc Fiction Find her on Twitter: @Ali_McGrane_UK. Read in Full

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