Page Is Printed 2015 Winners Announced
19 July 2015
Friday 19th June saw the culmination of this year's creative writing competition The Page is Printed.
We received entries from across the country in a variety of styles and genres including poems, short stories, letters, shopping lists, Google directions, cast lists, monologues and retellings of old classics.
The Celebration Evening involved a number of entrants reading their entries aloud and there was a warm air of support surrounding everyone who spoke, especially for some of our younger entrants. The judges Chris Ewan, Jo Backhouse, Tania Parish and Graeme Ryan were astounded at the quality of all entries submitted and congratulate everyone who entered.
Below are the winning entries from the Adult and Under 18 categories. If you would like to enter next year, more information will be available on our website next season.
Adult 1st Prize:
She Knows by Genista Lewes
She knows about her home
the shift and fall of walls in season
the seep of damp
the rain splash under warped windows
she knows the glint of early sun
the reach of it
the crackle of frost
the tick of expanding slate
the steam rising
these things are cradled in her heart
belong to compound time
She knows about jackdaws nesting in
the rush and fall of dusty sticks
the chuck-chuck-chuck the kerfuffle
the chick’s ungainly hurtle into the
fireplace too young to fledge
and how impossible to fill the gape of
its open bill the inevitable heap of
feathers the ceremony the tears
she’s learned the smell of death
the flurry in the chest
the fear of abandoned breath
She knows the extent of her folly
traces through the darkened glass
the evidence on the ground
the bundled letters
remnants of abandoned pleasure
she knows the stomach’s tremor
the watery lurch
the buckle of knees
the chill of breeze at her back
the premature winter freeze
She knows about reason
the way it fluctuates with the weather
the rise and fall of the barometer on the
wall the renewed pressure
she feels the struggle
the synthesis of resentment and love
the surge through her bones
when the ewes’ milk fails
the smell of the stillborn corpse on the
bonfire the singe of hooves and wool
finds a new way to spell cruel
She knows about carrion
the blowfly’s cargo of maggots
the conundrum of its delicate wing
knows the warm slow fester
the buzz of decomposition
role-plays the plight of the dead goat
draws its skeleton helmet over her face
stares at the world through cavernous
She knows about giving quarter
her fractured history
her son her daughters
she knows there is no division
between past and present
measures her life in shivers
lives in the shadow
of what has long since withered
Adult 2nd Prize:
Lampedusa by Ben Caile
salt stings and sun burns
as forgotten souls drift under the waves
young and old
families, refugees and dreamers
denied the dignity of graves
now slaves to the susurrations
of the sea
there is no spur like desperation
to force currency
into a trafficker's hand
from the the lines of desiccated bodies
stretched out on Libyan sands
wide-eyed and mute
as the boundless Barbary skies
the White Sea is blind,
incapable of mercy.
the boat wallows low and overburdened
condemned to a slow sinking
as hands grip with rigid fear
“I can't swim!”
goes unspoken in a dozen languages
the panic is brief
flailing limbs swallowed
by the soughing inevitability
no more money is taken, or deals made
just prayers said over body-bags
in the Lampedusa sun
Adult 3rd Prize:
Incipient by Julie Sampson
One stretching like a kite-day before you in your future
certain sights, sounds, scents,
may bring to mind this present,
though you will not know why -
whish of a bike wheeling along Leith's leafy lanes,
gulls in a sweeping sky reeling across Forth’s blue-bird seas,
in-gasps of sand-over-stones, in-coming tide,
your mother’s soft lilting laugh,
father’s step on the stair
(silent hum of a contented secret
they share amongst themselves).
When it happens you may not be young,
could even feel as old as those morning hills
whose shelter will have cradled and nourished you.
You'll walk again along Botanic-paths,
strange aromas stirring pangs of Eastern spice,
tree-harps twanging above Spring-time flowers -
allium, muscari, narcissi.
You'll intuit the shock of the new,
where it all began.
belly-full of fish
you are safe in your watery world.
We wait and watch for the flickering liminal harbour lights
on the edge of our treacherous shore
to lull you
Under 18's Winner:
Ghost Whisperer by Natalie Williams
Ghosts. Personally I would say I am adept in the paranormal. I much less prefer terms such as ‘Ghost Whisperer’ or ‘Psychic’ because I am neither of those. Assuming I am mad is a common misconception amongst outsiders. But those – those are people who misunderstand and come to the wrong conclusion. For it is not I who speaks to the ghosts; the ghosts speak to me.
Before you say I am clearly ‘unhinged’ or ‘deranged’, perhaps you would care to hear my story. This is back from when I earned a living investigating supposedly ‘haunted’ destinations. Ignorant individuals would lap up supernatural tales like a parched dog drinking on a torrid day. Everyone was so bored by their own monotonous, dreary existence; they jumped at the chance to hear something different, something extraordinary. I wrote books – book far superior to any others (if I may say so myself) because I told only the truth. This is how I discovered that on some occasions the truth is better kept a lie.
The phone rang. Running down the stairs I tripped. The fall left me sprawled on the ground, after landing on the polished wood with a muffled thump. Groaning (feeling a dull throbbing in my wrist) I hauled my frame off the creaking floorboards, hurrying to the landline. I brought the receiver to my mouth, grimacing in pain slightly, feeling my wrist ache as I uttered a greeting. Silence. I furrowed my brow in confusion as I heard but a crackle on the line. Suddenly a raspy voice replied, a tone shaking around the edges with age. The voice told of a place, a school – long abandoned- that they had perceived as a potential topic of my new ‘Real Life Paranormal’ book. Without hesitation I agreed to visit the location and noted down the address. About to ask the name of my caller, I was met with an irritating continual beep – cut off.
Slamming the car door, hearing the sound echo throughout the woodland clearing, I took a step away from my tired vehicle. Spindly twigs snapped beneath my dusty, worn boots as I tread carefully across the dry leaves and soil. Hearing a rustle in the overgrown bushes, thorns like daggers amongst thick vines, I peered closer. Snap. A branch was broken behind me. Feeling paranoid I swiftly spun around, only to discover a tiny grey squirrel feasting on a small, round nut from between its two delicate hands. All of a sudden the squirrel’s head snapped up and stared glassily at me, eyes boring into mine. Dry earth was kicked into the air as the creature scurried away abruptly, dropping the nut and fleeing. Puzzled, I turned back around. I was met with a frantic flapping of wings, feathers flying, hearing a bird squawk and struggle, trying to escape the broad, tightening weeds ad vines. Pained strangled noises escaped the bird’s beak as I noticed a monstrous, murky green vine wrapped around its neck. The vines had the creature by the throat, its ceaseless grip growing tighter by the second. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears as I panicked, watching the helpless animal struggle against the suffocating grasp. Frenzied noises and movements shook the bundle of vines as the bird’s wings were caught and torn on the thick brambles. With a blood curdling squeal the asphyxiating vines (wound so tightly around the throat of the bird) broke the distraught creature’s neck with a sickening crunch. My stomach churned as I saw the body go limp – lifeless.
Under 18's Winner:
Through the Thorns by Niamh O'Mahony
Through The Thorns
As I struggled through the thorns on the dusty ground, they clawed me with their spiky nails, as if they didn’t want me there, in the bristly bramble bush. I didn’t care, as my mind was on what may lie beyond. Why were there thorns in this spot that was dappled with sunlight? Why were they black and colourless? Why did they all seem to despise me? What secrets were they hiding? I could see the speck of sunlight that allowed me to find my way continuously growing, I knew I was going to see what was through the thorns…
Fields. Vast green spaces of luscious pastures, snowy white sheep grazing. The sun was a lone white fiery ball in a sea of blue above. White wisps of this blue sea’s spray floated and swirled above me. Flecks of golden daffodils spotted the emerald carpet laid out before me. Minuscule insects soared around, collecting nectar from pearly daisies. And the simmering, glittering river was a deep blue, as blue as sapphires. It ran down the hill, free as the wind that didn’t blow in this stunning place. Who would’ve thought such a lovely scene could be found through the thorns?
But what’s this? The colourful scene was being repainted before my astonished eyes. There was a fair with loud, jubilant music: lots of people rocking on bright, vibrant swing boats, their hair streaming behind them (like the wonderful indigo river that was meandering down the hill behind them); a carousel full of children, shrieking with ecstasy; the helter skelter peering down at everyone, intimidating them. Its shadow captured everything that stood in its way. Soon, the colours changed again. But this time they were fading to a gloomy grey. I was going to discover the mysterious secret through the thorns!
The grey cloud didn’t pass. It remained, a miserable black and white; a photograph from long ago. A factory stood in the centre of the field. The field of concrete. The joyful window of hope had been shattered. Instead of the white wisps around me, a plume of black smoke was rising above my head. The river was an ill mouldy brown, like mud, and was stuck crawling painfully down the desolate hill. So the thorns were there for protection and they were black and colourless because that’s what it’s like in reality, that’s what it’s like through the thorns.
Then it was a graveyard. It started to rain. I was devastated that this was what was to haunt me when I went home. Then it was as if the thorns could read my mind. I felt them curl around my arms and wrists, their teeth biting into my skin. I pulled away from the deadly cuffs, horrified that the thorns could choose to torture me further. I looked at my arm to see where I had been cut. Three words were written on it in my blood: you will stay...
I was trapped for an eternity through the thorns.
Under 18's Winner
Curiosity by James Johnson
Peace. Quiet. Ah.
As blissful as standing in a field full of grass is, I couldn’t have stayed there all day, I would have got bored, and seeing as the gate had been left open and that Mummy wasn’t looking, (she was eating with some friends), I decided to go exploring. I was new to the area, and hadn’t seen all there was to see yet. So I tottered off on my way.
The ground outside was more stony than the field and had considerably less grass; only a few tufts of it poked out here and there. Not that I minded though, it was all part of my adventure, and I thought it would be best to continue it.
I was beginning to like exploring, and just as I was beginning to ponder why I didn’t do it more often, I came across a large clearing, in the middle of which were two hard, cold things. They were stretched out along the ground next to each other, and were so long that I couldn’t see where they started or where they finished. But I knew what they were. Mummy had told me. They were railway lines.
Mummy had also told me that they were very dangerous if I was ever to come across them. But here I was, coming across them, and they had no danger that I could see. If anything else, they looked quite fun, and I made up a game of jumping over them. The game went on until I got tired, so I stopped in the middle of them to rest.
Whilst resting I looked down the lines and wondered if I stood there long enough I’d be able to see where they went. I was beginning to ponder on the thought of following them, when I noticed that I was shaking. But so was the ground.
Then, either side of me, the lines began to wobble, and they murmured to each other: “Clickety clack! Clickety clack!” I felt fear grip me as I watched this strange wonder take place. My fear soon turned to terror when I turned around to see a giant, smoking, metal monster racing towards me. I called out for Mummy, but my cries were drowned out by the roars of the beast.
I turned and went as fast as I could, in efforts to outrun it, but the creature was picking up speed fast. I gave up the race, and instead leaped off the lines to one side, but I caught my leg in the process. I tumbled to the ground, and lay there sprawled out whilst the monster whizzed past, sending a surge of wind blasting against me, and making orange lines fly everywhere.
I sat there frozen for a few seconds, staring, fixed in a spell the monster had left on me. Gingerly, I tapped a line. It was no longer cold, but very hot. Suddenly, the field of grass seemed a lot less boring, so I ran back there as fast as my little legs could carry me.
Mummy scolded me like anything when I returned. The shepherd scolded himself too for leaving the gate open. But the lesson I had learnt was clear, and no amount of scolding could change that. Beyond the gate is no place for a lamb.