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Misplaced Challenge Winners
I once was lost, but now I’m found — amazing grace, and we can only appreciate the latter if we know the former. In our Misplaced challenge, we asked you to consider what it would be like to be cast adrift and to imagine beyond our human shapes.
Abecedarian Challenge Winners
How much do we want to be aware of form, in a formal poem — and how much do we want the form to disappear? Philip Larkin was a poet with a gift for writing work that adheres quite tightly to pattern; and yet his skill causes the form almost to disappear, to melt into meaning. In our Abecedarian challenge, a formal structure is right out in front: the letters of the alphabet at the beginning of each line. Some of you landed neatly on each letter, accenting the form itself; other entries — while keeping to our rubric — worked to make the form flow into the poem. One’s no better than the other; it’s just fascinating for us to see the different ways in which you all approached this challenge.
#200 Challenge Winners
Congratulations, folks. You made us cry. I’m serious. We found the entries to the #200 Challenge truly moving, and we are so glad to hear what Vocal means to all of you. It hasn’t been easy sometimes, keeping the show on the road — but you are what makes it possible, and you are what makes it worthwhile, and we are so lucky to have a reminder of that in all the entries to this challenge.
Whodunit Challenge Winners
I was there… but how reliable is eyewitness testimony, really? That’s the question GK Bird asks in a stylish winning piece with that title. This Down Under writer has placed as a runner-up in our Vocal Challenges, and then moved to second place, and now is finally in the winner’s circle, so big congratulations. “I know exactly what happened!” one character exclaims as the tale opens, but then we are given shifting perspectives on the scene, undercutting our assumptions and building suspense around ‘the incident’. Well done!
Villanelle Challenge Winners
The villanelle is a complex and demanding form. As we said in our Challenge prompt, we’re so glad that our creators — another shout out to Mike Singleton - Mikeydred, Lauren Elizabeth, Sonia Heidi Unruh, Dane BH, and J.M. Powell — suggested that we run this one (please do put your own thoughts into the comments on Share Your Ideas to Shape the Future of Vocal Challenges!)
Identity Challenge Winners
Sam Eliza Green has been a creator with Vocal since the summer of 2021, and has published 114 pieces — warm congratulations on their first Challenge win. Their free-flowing poem, You, and I, and She takes first place in our Identity Challenge, its short lines a conversation about being and feeling, one which inhabits emotion with exploratory language. We loved the images of a winter “when nothing feels right/ and wrong has carved/ into my skin like/ the sharp snap/ of abandonment.” Image and sensation do a slow dance that draws the reader in.
Smooth Challenge Winners
Life is rough, sometimes; we could all do with a little smoothing out. In the entries to our Smooth challenge, there were stones and fur, water and ice, the wind over soft skin. Congratulations to Kate Kastelberg, our winner with ‘New Stones in the River: A Life Insured’, a truly lovely sestina that indicates loss but gathers memory into joy. “The years since the river was born,/ I have sat on its stony shores, passing/ time’s spells: feel roughshod rock turn to velvet as lilies bloom right/ from the water’s surface, slowly at first, earning/ their place in the sun.” Kate’s terrific poem is a reminder that a stricture — like one of our challenge rubrics — can be a gift rather than a constraint, an opportunity to take a concept and make it one’s own.
Arid Challenge Winners
An actual desert, or a desert of the mind? This time we gave you the ending of your tale, an evocative line: "Engulfed in the desert's parched silence, I was nothing but another grain of sand in the wind." We couldn’t wait to see where your creativity would take you, and the entries to the Arid challenge did not disappoint.
Neolomicro Challenge Winners
Traditional. Worthless. Obscene. Perfectly ordinary — and extremely useful — words, aren’t they? Yet according to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, they hadn’t been a part of the English language until the Bard coined them; there are many others in his remarkable lexicon.
Shining a Spotlight on the 2023 Vocal Writing Awards Shortlists
The Vocal Writing Awards concluded earlier this month with a flourish, when we announced the winners here. Now, we are delighted to share with you the incredible shortlisted entries for each category. Passing the muster of the Vocal Curation Team to be shortlisted is no small feat. The entries on this list displayed extraordinary creativity, innovation, and a profound ability to convey emotional resonance through their compositions. Please join us in honoring these entries by giving them some well-deserved reads and comments.
Snafu Senryu Winners
Dana Crandell’s ‘Hand Stamp’, the winner of our Snafu Senryu Challenge, brings humor and a thoughtful, original idea to our theme. How to convey that awkward moment in seventeen syllables, neatly dispersed over three lines? The delight of this challenge is that form and content seem perfectly matched: no one wants to linger too long over these embarrassing moments (to say the least!) and yet we can’t help giving them space in our minds. Why not make good use of that space and turn anxiety into art?
Unveiling the Winners of the 2023 Vocal Writing Awards 🥁
We've judged, you've judged, and we've all waited... It's finally time to announce the winners of the 2023 Vocal Writing Awards! This year's winners, comprised of the highest caliber works across 8 categories — haiku poetry, free verse poetry, romance fiction, young adult fiction, horror fiction, fantasy fiction, science fiction, and flash fiction — are so worth the read.