Book - Broken Reflections

Broken Reflections

Back in July, James Knight ran a writing competition, with the prize of being published in a short compendium of stories and poems. Susan Omand reads the resulting book, Broken Reflections...

I won’t lie, this was always going to be an interesting project for me – how could it not be, being the result of a competition run by the surreal genius of James Knight and judged by the equally wonderful wordsmith Kate Garrett, both of whose work I have read and reviewed here before. The competition was one for creative writing in either poetry or prose, with entrants picking one of three images constructed by James Knight and writing a text response to it in no more than 200 words to be blind-judged (i.e. not knowing who wrote what) by Kate. In the foreword of the book, James says that both he and Kate were “blown away by the overall quality of the entries” and, from the ones included in this short book, it is easy to see why. There are some names known to me in the contributors because I already follow them on Twitter but also some I had not heard of but can now seek out the work of, thanks to the useful bio pages at the back of the book.

Organised into three sections, one for each of the pictures, it is incredible how startlingly different in content and style each piece is, given that they are responding to the same image. There are pieces of pure description and of narrative, taking both figurative and literal themes from the pictures. From Batman to Mozart, the Scottish Highlands to the arid desert, each text is astonishing in its reference and diversity. One thing shines through consistently in all of them though and that is the quality and creativity in the writing, the level of which there are not enough superlatives for. In both the poetry and prose there is an utter, sometimes utterly horrific, beauty to the words as they sit together on the page and the counterpoint between the pages is as tantalizing as the self contained texts. You’re going to ask me for my favourite now, aren’t you? Kate selected Ethan Miller’s Panic Slip as the winner, with Voima Oy’s Flowers of Alba and Ian Foulger’s End Game as joint runners up. I don’t have her luxury of blind-judging in responding to the works, so I cannot and will not name a favourite. All I will say is there are two that I keep going back to and re-reading with a fascination of emotive reactions. Download the book for yourself (it’s FREE from here just now) and I’m sure you will find your favourites too.

Image – James Knight