On Halloween night, we held an All Hallows' Eve Contest with a visual prompt. We saw a digital collage art set on the Polyvore website by Polyvore community member, Xandra Black and felt that it had fascinating layers of interpretive possibilities. We've seen an incredible synergy of art and words previously with Polyvore during our Twitter Tales social media experiment. This time, rather than have members of the Polyvore community inspired by the words of our writers to make digital art, we let our writers be inspired by the art of one of the members to craft written responses. We've dealt with the rich archetypes, symbolism and metaphor present in fairy tale literature in the past and felt this novel artistic representation of "Little Red Riding Hood" would serve as a great contest prompt.
The contest was open to fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. We received incredibly innovative takes on this art prompt. The creative efforts of the participants made judging nearly impossible. Amongst the entries, there wasn't a single piece that didn't knock our socks off in one way or another. Though we were grateful for how hard it made our job, we knew we needed to call for backup. Once we narrowed down the finalists, we decided that the creator of the digital art collage ought to have a say, feeling ultimately that her input was essential. She found it near impossible as well, being struck by aspects of each piece. Xandra gave careful, thoughtful contemplation to those entries, providing detailed feedback and personal analysis so that we could know her thought process.
For its unique content, interpretation of the collage, imagery, form, and research of fact and dialect, the following entry by Neal Whitman was chosen as the winner.
Mr. Whitman, upon being notified of his win from a strong pool of finalists, chose graciously to accept publication as his prize, thus letting the three finalists have the opportunity to design the new Writers' Challenge for the upcoming winter-spring issue of the magazine.
Those finalists, also receiving honorable mention here for their striking entries, are Janine Lehane, Ginger Peters, and Cheryl Sommese.
A special thank you to all participants, including our winner and finalists. We also extend our gratitude to Xandra Black both for her artistic involvement and guest judge duties. We will be posting the digital collage that served as the contest prompt in a separate blog post above. Below, we invite you to enjoy the winning entry!
WINNING ENTRY OF ALL HALLOWS' EVE CONTEST BY NEAL WHITMAN (apart from formatting for the blog, entry left to its original form)
Subject: Pibroch Melody
Dyrling, my Little Red Cap. Hwaet! I write to you from The Old Minister’s Guest House at the foot of the Cairngorm on the banks of River Druie. It is stone built by the local Church of Scotland in 1895. The walls of my room hold the cold. I nurse a glass of mead as I am under the weather after a wet walk in the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest. Before the drenching, a white sphere faded in the sky—a daytime moon or perhaps a disembodied ghost. With the first clap of thunder, I sprinted to find shelter and tripped on a rotten log. Does fear lend wings to a wounded deer? My ankle aches. The left one. The promised “exceptional local larder” discourages appetite. The parlour fireplace smokes and my asthma is unforgiving.
Please forgive my parting words and welcome me home. In the blink of an eye I return to you. Hard to fathom, but there is a report of a lone wolf in The Pass of Killecrankie Gorge not far from where your cottage is perched. I know this sounds howlin’ mad, but I shall pull myself up by handfuls of heather—I fear for this wolf’s safety. You are one sharp-shooter.
*Official records shows that Ewan’s great-whatever, Sir Ewan Cameron, killed the last Scottish wulf in 1680 in Killcrankie (Perthshire). But right up to the end of the 19th century, reports persisted of wolves seen in Scotland, though never confirmed by a “kill.” There is a movement afoot for a “rewilding” process with Eurasian wolves. Would that be howlin’ mad? Perhaps, not. The evil wulf redeemed.