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The Festival Returns!

The Festival will return in October 2016, so watch out for us nearer the date.

Flash Fiction Competition Results

The Flash Fiction Competition results were announced on Saturday 17th January 2015 in Nottingham Castle.

Judges Paula Rawsthorne and Graham Lester George selected Prime Candidate by Alex Brogan to be the overall winning story. Ghosts in Bromley House Library by Debbie Moss, and From Corkscrew To Cockcrow by Andy Szpuk were joint Runners-up.

Congratulations to all three!

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Alex Brogan

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Andy Spzuk

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Debbie Moss

Read the winning entries:
  • Alex Brogan - Winner (Warning: contains strong language and sexual references) [+]

    Prime Candidate

    2’, one hundred and twenty seconds in, hip-flask comfort, abused. The electrified Torville and Dean skates towards Nottingham, synapses jangling at The Forest, around me fresh lip-stick, perfumed pheromones and tattooed testosterone. The night-economy, flexing wallets and purses, looser from pre-loading. High jinks and an evening of intimacy, who’s the joker in the pack? I sense that my Obsessive Compulsive In-Order with prime numbers is better than avoiding crack.

    3’, at High School, backdrop both ways, state money closes on the under-world of pay-as-you-go booze and sex. The metronomic counterpoint. Methinks yes, bracing, lurching towards the descent into abject comfort and oblivion, Bendigo, boxing clever, even though David Herbert is an alumni, I assume the mantle of Mellors.

    5’, had a place at this fine palace of academic learning, the northbound inverse, Robin Hood, almost full, national minimum wagers and fading retail therapy addicts, bleary-eyed, making their way home to soft furnishings in Maslow’s Hierarchy of futility. The state has already robbed them. ‘Next stop the Royal Centre’. An annoying voice splatters all over Bolero, ‘With links to SkyLink’, fuck me baby I am already doing the triple-salco.

    19’, sat outside, 2nd pint in hand at the Campanologists Delight, sweaty palms and self-trepidation easing, one–way trip, my vista filled with ground floor carbuncles and a clock at 29 degrees above my unsteady horizon. The thought of ground floor food temporarily shudders me with anti-peristalsis. Swallowed bolus, nicotine stained fingers, a cough and a look at an un-finished crossword: Walk.

    47’, got my bad sagging ass up to the ‘Ye Old Trip to American Support’, just pointed at the ‘Rocket Juice’ pump. Overlook Hotel reminded me of an overturned tri-cycle and a missed, overbearing, barren ex-wife. Considering the atrocities in Gaza, I temporarily forgave myself, walked, after many drinks, incidental talk, again.

    149’, back into town, assumed a solitary booth, in the ‘Lost and Found’. M1 legs move over my recumbent carcass, hearing, ‘I am not here’, the person hides behind my considerable bulk. As the fracas dies down I glimpse fantastic laddered legs that make me forget about snakes. Tall women appeal to me, my joker has landed. We imbibe, converse, pupils dilate, brush of hands, oh to touch another human being. We laugh and cry about the absurdity of our condition, needing fresh air we depart into the Old Market Place.

    239’, we sit, shoulders touching, I tickle her knee, a minute later bells sound to differentiate the Jewish Sabbath from the Christian Expectation. She says as the last peel reverberates over downtown, ‘Fancy a Coffee’. We traipse up to Lloyd Coles’ basement flat, a mere 373 yards away. I am in!!. Bollocks to the kettle.

    661’, endless talk, vodka, snow, political correctness, my five o’clock in the morning shadow eased with my own dribble.

    683’, in bed, after interminable foreplay I close in on the King Street/Queen Street vaginal confluence, legs akimbo, anticipation abounds, wrong gender! Bollocks.

    691’, pain in the back, left arm tingles, crippled to my knees.

    701’, blues and 2’s, thanks.

    709’, shy lights, beeping machines, artificial breather, a guy in Bay 7 growling in pain with suspected peritonitis, cannulas like spirit optics as the tone and noise flat-line, fuck!, that’s my bay! 13 eyes look down on me, “prime”, national grid creaks, “clear”, involuntary shudder like jobbie pains, spray yawns and baby-shakes combined. An acrid smell from my now limp chest hair stirs my olfactory meltdown. Navel fluff intact. Orifices twitch, faeces, urine and sperm melt into Anarie Bevan’s wet-dream. Anvil, hammer and stirrup perform for the penultimate time, a muted cacophony of an unfinished symphony, the last vestiges of recognized organic life dissipate from my core

    719’, auricular tricks, despite my limited understanding of prime numbers, I am pronounced dead at 7.59 am on Sunday 37th Julember 2014. ‘Cause of death – Lifestyle Choice, a Prime Candidate, Wrong Date, Right Time’. An ethereal thought, it would take more than the great General William Booth to deploy every rank of the Salvation Army. Shit my 11th life just ended.

    720’, I spiritually depart QMC, this great city, lace christening garment, second-hand Raleigh bike, sandstone caves, 11 plus, 17 driving lessons, the river coursing through my now collapsed veins and arteries and looking down at Trent Bridge, ‘Ashes to Ashes’.

    © Alex Brogan 2014. All rights reserved.

  • Andy Szpuk - Joint Runner-up [+]


    A barman takes orders, rows of glasses stand stoutly, perusing the pandemonium
    The polished bar gleams from sturdy efforts of the cleaner, scent of ammonia
    Scrubbed up Sunshine takes a bus into town, to walk among fellow enthusiasts
    A search is on for heavenly bodies, preceded by the steady flow from a pint glass

    Takeaway neon echoes serve up slices of sparkling light on to Slab Square
    Aromas blending, cigarette smoke weaving and wending, toxic as Tony Blair
    Trams glide along rails at the side of the fountain, the skyline smoulders
    Citizens sit together, take a drink or two, brush off chips on shoulders

    A gorilla and a ballerina ride a Raleigh Chopper, custom built, now a tandem
    Rock music leaks from cellar bars into side streets, DJ spinning discs at random
    Metal machines, marauding monsters, leather clad, guitars screaming, blown fuses
    Night life easily morphs into fright night, chemicals collide in multiple abuses

    Tourists, students and locals pose for a photo with Brian Clough, statue of a legend
    Sunshine enjoys a clear night sky, looking for his own elusive happy ending
    Chattering over the clattering of beer trays, where hopes and drinks get spilled
    Sunshine casts his eye over the company. On nights like this, dreams get killed

    The honking horn of a taxi, the cackle of hen parties, hunted high and low by stags
    A bus door hisses, concertina movement, a symphony of stiletto, elegant straggle
    Short sleeved shirts gather together, whatever the weather, it's a hot night
    From a pigeon's perspective, the scenes on the streets below are regular sights

    Liquid refreshment loosens tight lipped tension, Sunshine holds on to his intention
    A sea of eyes, drowned by disco diva disguises, faces painted for fascination
    Sunshine drops ice cubes into a long glass, a depth charge to fire up his voice
    He asks for a dance, the first shaky steps towards romance, egged on by the boys

    Mobile phones vibrate, a cacophony of ring tones, texts herald a grand arrival
    Swooping down, birds flutter, but Sunshine is all hers, underneath the mirror ball
    He finds an empty table, their dance becomes a twisting tango of tongues
    Stories of his decorating prowess are told, to impress, of wallpaper well hung

    An exotic bird borne of some natural grace, this time Sunshine is left seated
    As she excuses herself, maybe to powder or put on lippy, the chance has retreated
    The music becomes background, Sunshine left to ponder on failure and rejection
    But the brooding is only brief, back with the boys, he takes heart, finds resurrection

    He remembers her face like a photograph, coal black hair, Skeggy blue eyes
    It's never over he decides, not until the darkness has died. Not until the next sunrise
    At the night club, the doorman never smiles, so when it's time to eject the unruly
    He can do so without feeling guilty, in the style of Conservative austerity

    Maybe Sunshine'll see her there, he's smitten, he knows it, hopes he hasn't blown it
    It's after midnight, the beer is still slipping down smoothly, maybe the bird has flown?
    At the last dance, he digs out those coal black curls, goes over, she says yes
    Their bodies conspire to admire each other's curves, she gives him a slow kiss

    The speakers hurl out a last beat, together they walk outside. A half moon smiles
    Slab Square, a magic carpet, buskers still strumming guitars, they walk for miles
    Together, away from the city, perfect for romantic endeavours, he's a floating feather
    Night buses pass, revellers returning home, the end of the night, a seed of forever

    Sunshine walks her home, around them city sleeping, oblivion beneath closed eyes
    'Ring me' she whispers, closing the door, he's alone with his own emerging sunrise
    He lifts up his head to take the sun's kiss, holds his phone, gazes at her number
    It's tomorrow already, so he plans to call her later, when she's woken from slumber

    His every step down the street, in the stark light, becomes the city's heartbeat
    Along Trent Bridge, he savours the moment, the river shimmers, the cool air sweet
    Street lamps glow golden, his spirits are emboldened by a sense of true belonging
    A night that can never be forgotten, his narrative rewritten, a new dawn beckoning

    © Andy Szpuk 2014. All rights reserved.

  • Debbie Moss - Joint Runner-up [+]

    Ghosts in the Bromley House Library

    Saturday, eight hours since glints of sunlight crossed a brass meridian
    A polished line in a small room on the first floor
    Only lights flickering in the Market Square
    Seep in through small panes and shine on worn oak
    Lawrence sails passed shelves of sleeping poets
    Inky hands wrapped round a jar
    Modernity’s tongue spills out smearing the glass
    ‘The poetry inside’ says Lawrence nudging
    Byron treading the creaking twisted stairs
    Byron whines and whispers to Lawrence
    ‘New ways are only greatest for those already great.’

    Sillitoe leans against the cracked window and coughs
    He is listening to the Mouthy Poets Say Sum Thin in the Square
    Come you two, there’s something here for those like us who perhaps knew
    Old ways can change and lives made better
    With words which must be spoken
    For young lives which have been broken
    And the poets listened for hours
    To women witness to the words’ power
    Then when the mouths had left the
    The poets drifted back to their shelves, and jammed new words until
    Four hours from solar noon, and for the sun to cross that brass
    But today is Sunday and only the ghosts will see it pass.

    © Debbie Moss 2014. All rights reserved.

Thank You!

The Nottingham Festival of Words 2014 welcomed Ali Smith, Will Self, Bernadine Evaristo, Daljit Nagra, Maurice Riordan, Sujata Bhatt, Jon McGregor, Dev Dutt Joshi … and you! To get a flavour of what it was like, see the video below. Rest assured we will be back in 2016.
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