Winners from April 15, 2011

1st Place: Endings by Rachel Kellis
We can't claim to pin down a clear plot structure to Kellis's Endings, but we get the sense that she intended to let us fill-in the plot ourselves. At the heart of this piece is Jeremiah, a frightful yet divine character. We envision him as a pathetic, but admirably diligent neophyte. Someone, on other words, who perhaps sees and knows much, but is under the influence of someone or something much older and knowing (perhaps not morally better) than himself. Endings is terrifying in its religious images, and while we get the sense that a murder of a sort has happened here, the language of mourning makes us think that the killer is already seeking redemption. Readers cannot help but appreciate Kellis's short form here--the flitting from line to line, each rich with concrete description. So deft is Kellis's writing here, we encourage readers to attempt a prompt and imitate the style.
Download and read Endings.
2nd Place: Ode to the Hot Dog Guy by Keayva Mitchell
Mitchell names this piece aptly when she refers to it as an Ode. One of the most detailed character descriptions we've encountered in this competition, Mitchell's Ode is part gritty description and part narrative rambling. In fact, Ode reads almost like diary entries, and save the occasional narrative addresses to the reader, it would even seem the narrator is carrying on an entirely internal dialogue. Howsoever Mitchell arrived at the inspiration for this piece, it is an intimate portrait of a person we can only hope actually exists. From now on, we (and likely all readers to follow) will be keeping an eye out for a certain "guy" standing in front of a grill on West 3rd.
Download and read Ode to the Hot Dog Guy.
3rd Place: The Bird Man by Christian Miles
Miles is a poet who likes a theme. Calling upon the old Western imagery of Icarus, while tipping a hat to the romantics--it begrudgingly--Miles gives us a poem that is unapologetic in its message. The repetitious pronoun "I" that starts each line is a reminder that the narrator is focused inward--this is no lesson for others; it's strictly an internal revelation recorded on paper. While the ending is tragic, the narrator ultimately affirms an inwardly positive outcome: though deprived of that which enriches his existence, it does not deprive him of identity. So while Miles's theme is of the avian variety, the questions (and answers) of The Bird Man are ultimately human.
Download and read The Bird Man.
Editor's Choice: smoothie by Alice Black
As we head into Spring, this summertime, sensual piece by Black is all steam and smoothies and hot and cold. It's a rich second-person journey- -Black takes your hand and leads you through an experience that will leave you warm and chilled at the same time. With language that sings-- Black is joyful in her use of alliteration and rhythm--and the familiar tone of the narrator, the reader cannot help but appreciate the final few lines of the piece, which fit so perfectly, so beautifully into the whole that the reader may find that he or she has held their breath while reading them. As far as our weekly prompts go, if they produce writing of this caliber, we cannot help but feel we're providing a service to the world at large.
Download and read smoothie.

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