FLY COMPETITION WINNERS ANNOUNCED!
Overall winner of the FLY Festival Competition, chosen from the winners of both age categories (11-14 and 15-18) is:
WINNER of the 15 - 18 category is:
WINNER of the 11 - 14 category is:
15 - 18 category:
11 - 14 category:
We were thrilled by the number and high quality of the entries this year which came from every corner of the UK. As judges, we had a hard time choosing the winners they were all a pleasure to read and there is no doubt that there are some very talented emerging writers. It was lovely to see such great responses to the natural world and for what language can do to illuminate our experience of it.
In the end a few poems and pieces of prose stood out. All the winning poems and pieces of prose shared a powerful feeling for the natural world. Many, too, shared a sense of anxiety about the loss of species and the ordinary heritage of the natural world. One judge was reminded of a phrase by Peter Levi, who said he loved the landscape near his home with 'an insecurity of passion.' Many of them also celebrated the words of ‘The Lost Words’ and in their writing have helped us all remember them.
The judges would also like to thank all those who illustrated their works. We really enjoyed looking at your drawings.
Alexander Gordon Smith,
WINNER - MEGAN LEUNG
Winona once told me that people are like dandelions.
It had been summer then, and with it had come the balmy heat that coated our faces as we lay flat on the lawn, our stomachs bared to the empyrean blue, fingers and toes scrunched amongst blades of grass, the warmth turning our palms sticky as they traced faint trails through the swathes of green that populated the garden. I glanced at the nearest dandelion to my right; Winona’s lawn would always be stippled with the flowers, blotches of yellow decorating the thriving verdancy, a blaze of fervid colour to match the heat of the season. No sooner had her father rid the grass of them, they would return, their yellow petals forming a sort of homage to the sun that smiled down upon them. Winona would say that she preferred it that way, the flowers weren’t harming anyone, and besides, it was better than having absolutely no flowers at all. I nodded my head in agreement.
“We’re very similar really, humans and dandelions,” Winona would reason as she placed a couple in her hair, the flaxen petals and tendrils melding amongst her own auburn curls. “When dandelions get old,
their hair loses all its colour, and they start to go grey and wispy and tufts of their hair fall out. I saw the exact same thing happening to my granny, you know.”
At this, I remarked that I would rather not get grey hairs as easily as the daffodils, who seemed to go barely months without starting to disintegrate into whitish fluff. Winona laughed at me, proclaiming that “Kids rarely ever got grey hairs” and that I had nothing to be afraid about.
The following summer, the dandelions bloomed in Winona’s garden, just a few doors down from my own. But I didn’t ask to go and turn cartwheels over her lawn or put flowers in her hair, for I knew that though the doorbell would ring, its tinny and shrill voice echoing between the walls, no one would emerge from behind the hazy gloom. Winona’s parents had divorced abruptly a few months previously, and Winona had been forced to move south with her mother.
She never replied to our messages.
The dandelions in my garden now are a powder white, the seeds formed of miniscule fibres intertwined within perfectly spherical globes. It is autumn now, the soft susurration of the trees signalling the coming movement of the breeze. With the wind, the seeds waver, like some undulating wave of miniature ostrich feathers, before being swept up, spiralling towards the ether like a small brume of diaphanous thread. And I realised that Winona and I had grown older, like the dandelions in our gardens, before being helplessly pulled by the wind into the seemingly never-ending spiral of life.
Like the dandelion clocks, we too had been dispersed with time to our different places in the world, perhaps never to meet again.
WINNER (11 - 14) AMELIA JONES
Mother says there used to be a type of flower called bluebells; I still haven’t decided whether to believe her or not.
You see, Mother spins lots of make believe stories in that web of hers – fairies dancing on waving streams, the daunting breath of her old pet dragon and most outrageous of all, the time she danced on the moon.
As a child, I believed the stories she’d whisper me to sleep with. As a child, I was able to picture the small fey and ferocious beasts she created. But a bluebell? That seems too good to be true. Mother says, “It’s true alright, Cassi. Just long gone, and longer forgotten.” Mother says the last time she plucked one was the summer of 2018, which was a long time ago indeed.
As I normally do, I’ve searched high and low on the shelves at my local libraries, endlessly scanning pointless indexes for signs of a flower that supposedly existed. Nothing. I’ve even asked classmates at school. For the few seconds a day they pull their eyes from the glaring screens of their phones, I ask my questions – “Have you seen a bluebell?” or “Did your mother tell you about bluebells too?” To both enquiries, I can only receive a pair of folded eyebrows, knitted into the shape of confusion, and sometimes the occasional shrug as people turn back to their overpowering screens, ignoring my claims of the elapsed blossoms.
Mother has tried to describe them to me too, hoping that I would be able to picture the plant that is now only fictional. “Sometimes not even blue, but a mixture of cobalt and violet. They had hanging buds in the shape of an old church bell, the ends curled up harmoniously.” The purple heads were – apparently – attached to a long, jade stalk, mounted in the earth. Mother says they smelt sweet and she would often desire to pick some on her walk home from school, as a batch grew among the morning dew on the path she took.
“Too valuable!” Her father would scold her for removing the blossoms from their natural home.
How is something so valuable – something so sweet, delicate and beautiful – so easily forgotten? The flower, once adored by the people of Britain, is now something even my history teacher has overlooked.
Even though I don’t know if a bluebell is just another of Mother’s stories, I yearn to see one – more than I wish to see the fire-breathing dragon. The reason for this? I know that I’ll never see a world of unimaginable fables, but bluebells could be real. Maybe they were real. Maybe, some are out there now, lost among scraps of debris, a blue curl of petals. Maybe, hidden in the depths of a forest, is a single flower, standing tall, waiting to be remembered.
Mother says there used to be flowers called bluebells; but they are forgotten.
Mother says there used to be flowers called bluebells; but I don’t think it’s true.
Winners prizes (awarded for each age category (11-14 and 15-18)
- Secret prize awarded to the overall winner - watch this space!
- A Kindle Fire
- A hamper of chocolates from our sponsor Gnaw Chocolate
- An invitation to the award-giving at FLY on Wednesday 11 July
- Signed copies of a selection of books by this year’s FLY authors. And a signed copy of The Lost Words, A Spell Book.
- A chance for your writing to be published on the FLY web pages
- Runners up will also be invited to the award ceremony and will receive signed author books