Tadpole Press
Writing Contest Winners

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April 2022 Contest

Theme: The Power of Words

 

We received over 600 entries from 42 different countries and are delighted to share the following winners with you:

First Place: $1,000 USD goes to Lauren St. George from the United States.

Refuge means trading the sound of exploding shells for the clatter of unfamiliar languages. Exchanging a city of rubble for the garish brightness of his new classroom. On his first day, the children swarm him, 360 degrees of eager, alien sounds slipping past white teeth.

 

Class begins and he is forgotten. Untethered by understanding, he drifts, carried by a current of homesickness and unbelonging.

 

A tap on his wrist pulls him to the surface. The girl leans close to him.

Salaam, she whispers.

Salaam, he repeats.

The familiar tug at the corner of his lips feels almost like home.

Second Place: $450 writing coaching package goes to Gillian Musoka from Kenya.

 

Post-Independence Possibilities

 

The heat and dryness of those days lent themselves to widespread hostility. At the rallies, our jostling bodies could have started fires. He stood out immediately from the pyromaniacal parade of our political scene, an upright man. One unbowed by the indignities of subjugation. In speeches, his words poured forth like a rainmaker's miracle, filling and sealing the cracks in our parched earth. He insisted that our land was fertile enough. "We must dare to invent the future," he said, and we let him collect us— like so many droplets—into the flow of a mighty river. 

Third Place: $250 developmental or diversity editing package goes to Cluny Smith. 

The Power of Words

 

You said my hair

Was a stinky leaf on fire.

You said my eyes

Were ugly blue blobs.

You said my clothes

Looked like the rags

A poor servant would wear,

Which I was.

 

You said my hair

Was a beautiful rose.

You said my eyes

Were gorgeous little oceans.

You said my clothes

Looked like the dress

A princess goddess would wear,

Which I was.

 

Everyday you make me smile.

Everyday you make me cry.

This is the power of words.

Congratulations, Lauren, Gillian, and Cluny! And congratulations to everyone who dared to dream and created a little bit of power in this world. You matter. Your dreams matter. Keep writing.

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November 2021 Contest

Theme: Abundance

 

This was the first time we've hosted this contest separately from the Tadpole Press Writing Retreat. Because we weren't quite ready to host an in-person retreat this year due to the pandemic, we opened up this fun little writing competition to everyone.


And what an amazing turnout we had! We received over 500 entries from 33 different countries.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who participated! Do you know what you just did? You created magic. You used finite resources—a mere 100 words—to make abundance, to show us "a World in a Grain of Sand," to make us feel like anything is possible. What a beautiful gift. We are honored.

 

Because we received so many extraordinary entries, the judging process was much harder than we'd expected. However, we are delighted to have selected the following entries as winners of this year's contest:

First Place: $1,000 USD goes to Benedetta Bambagioni from the Netherlands.

Coincidance? 

 

Today is Edna’s birthday. There are two things she always does on her birthday: bake apple pie and dance. 

 

However, at the local market, someone buys the last apples just before her eyes. “Enjoy the apples, Fred!” shouts the vendor. 

 

Driving back home, singing along to Dean Martin, Edna’s tire goes flat. “My lucky day!” she rejoices. 

 

With the radio still singing, she pulls over to encourage the deflated tire. 

 

A man approaches. One hand extended, and in the other, a bag of apples. “Care to dance, miss?” 

 

Edna smiles, beaming at those apples. “Certainly, Fred.” 

 

So they dance.

 

 

Second Place: $450 writing coaching package goes to Ryan McIntyre from New Zealand.

 

You’ll laugh, but I swore I’d never have kids. 

 

Jack was born a perfect, hairless little potato, with tiny fingers like inquisitive worms and eyes like deep lakes. 

 

He offered a second chance; to be surprised, and delighted, and inspired by the infinite weirdness of life. 

 

The eye-squinting, face-crunching sourness of lemon. 

 

The fuzziness of moss on the neighbour's crooked wooden fence. 

 

The deep, feel-it-in-your-belly rumble of thunder. 

 

The earthy smell of dirt after spring rain. 

 

Bootprints in snow, footprints in sand. 

 

Bare toes skimming freshly clipped grass, and kicking fallen leaves. 

 

I saw the world for the first time.

 

 

Third Place: $250 developmental or diversity editing package goes to Lauren Johnson from Scotland.

 

On Friday, my favourite patient died. Old Bill Wyatt succumbed at last to cancer.

 

As wind whistled past lead-paned windows, I’d held the wizened hand that rested on the counterpane.

 

His final words-

“Follow the blackbirds.”

 

I cycled home through descending twilight, dashing away tears.

 

Atop the crossroads sign, a blackbird sat twinkling black eyes at me. Unthinking, I followed. Through darkening woods until …

 

Leaves crunched underfoot. Enormous blackberries, elderberries and scarlet rosehips. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, an abundance of rowan and holly. Triumphant white bindweed, the scent of honeysuckle and woodsmoke. I pirouetted, rich indeed.

 

The blackbird began to sing.

 

Congratulations, Benedetta, Ryan, and Lauren! And congratulations to everyone who dared to dream and created a little bit of abundance in this world. You matter. Your dreams matter. Keep writing.

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2020 Contest

Pieces were judged on creativity and how the story captures a new angle, breaks through stereotypes, and expands our beliefs about what’s possible.

"This Moment" by Malia Maunakea from the United States

 

Awwwww, look at you

Crouching low, stick in one small fist, rock in the other.

Watching that tiny, fuzzy caterpillar slowly inch its way up that branch.

Time slows, cottonwood floats by, the creek continues its lazy meander.

Remember this moment. This moment won't last forever.

Soon it'll be, "Ok, love, it's time for school!"

Soon it'll be, "I can't believe you're taller than me!"

Soon it'll be, "Be home by nine!"

Soon it'll be, "I love you, see you next December!"

But for now, thank you, caterpillar. Thank you for this moment.

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2019 Contest

Pieces were judged on creativity and how the story captures a new angle, breaks through stereotypes, and expands our beliefs about what’s possible.

"Drink" by Caitlin Berve from the United States

 

In the desert live a people made of sand. They rarely speak, for even the slightest movement of air sends their gritty forms into a cloud of dust. It takes weeks for them to coalesce. A child, I lost my way among sandstones and juniper tees and cried until no tears remained. A sand person found me. "Drink," they said, pointing at an unfamiliar cactus, and dissipated. Prying open the fruit, I drank sage-tasting water and knew my way home. Again I find myself lost in a desert, panicked and uncertain. I think of the sand people and drink.