Full marks to the Bridport Arts Centre for putting on this event – partly designed to encourage writers to enter The Bridport Prize (which includes a prize for flash fiction and one for a local writer).
I was asked to judge, along with Kim Squirrell of Ink and Page, a poet and short story writer. I love a slam – the slightly nervous, buzzy atmosphere; the very fact that writers are brave enough to stand up on stage and read out their own 250 words.
The MC was Declan Duffy who kept a smooth hold on proceedings. Kim and I made frantic notes as everybody read, so that we could remember each piece and what we liked or didn’t like about it.
The evening passed in a flash 🙂 Kim and I retired to a quiet room to discuss the readings and meanwhile The People (the audience) also cast their vote.
Judging is partially subjective, of course. There were certain pieces that we both admired; others that we were able to ‘dismiss’ quite easily. A successful piece of flash fiction will have a point, perhaps a theme; certainly it will be more than an anecdote. It will hopefully be entertaining (perhaps even funny) and hopefully also thought-provoking. A good piece will contain gems that make us stop and take note.
It is hard not to be influenced by presentation – this is a slam after all, so make it count. If a reader speaks in a whisper, how can we hear the gems..? But interestingly, a few days later, Kim and I got to read the three winning entries. Would we have judged differently if we could have read the entries as well as listened to them, before making a decision? Possibly…
But a slam is about immediate impact. No time for second thoughts. Kim and I were in broad agreement (though we placed the top three in a different order) and for the first time ever, our number 1 matched the People’s number 1.
Was the evening a success? Most definitely.
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