KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
News: Spring 2016

Triple-F Contest Results

For a seven-week period beginning on 15 December 2015, we challenged writers to submit original micro-fiction, prose poetry, hybrids such as haibun stories and tanka prose, and/or lineated poetry, which incorporated these three words as seamlessly as possible:


Plural forms of the words were allowed, although variations such as “flickering” and “foolish” were not. Word count of each piece was restricted to 500 max.

The theme was optional: Spring, the season of growth and renewal, the return of warmth and hope and light—or cruelty, as TS Eliot warned—and what marvelous timing, given that April is National Poetry Month.

We are in awe of all the writers who accepted the challenge! In return, you challenged us and we are grateful.

For an out-of-the-ordinary take on the proceedings, please see Reflections on Our First Official Contest, which includes commentaries from publisher Clare MacQueen and from the three judges (Clare MacQueen, Jack Cooper, and a colleague who wishes to remain anonymous).

Without further ado, KYSO Flash is pleased to announce our choices: three winners, three honorable mentions, and a dozen finalists. (Listings include genre and date that each entry was submitted.)

• Tara Laskowksi

First Place: $300

  Ladies Night
(Micro-Fiction, 02-03-16)
• Emily Rose Cole

Second Place: $200

  The month after the divorce
(Lineated Poem, 01-27-16)
• Bob Lucky

Third Place: $100

  Who’s Roosting in the Family Tree
(Prose Poem, 01-14-16)
• Lee Kisling

First Honorable Mention: $50

  Day One—No Insurance
(Lineated Poem, 01-22-16)
• Tony Eprile

Second Honorable Mention: $50

  The Notebook
(Prose Poem, 01-23-16)
• Pat Tompkins

Third Honorable Mention: $50

  As Student Is to Aardvark
(Micro-Fiction, 01-22-16)

Finalists are unranked and appear below in alphabetical order by author’s last name. Please note that all 18 works listed on this page will also appear in our print anthology in December.

• Roberta Beary:   The Feast of St. Patrick
(Haibun, 02-04-16)
• Claire Everett:   Paperburn
(Tanka Tale, 02-04-16)
• Urszula Funnell:   Me and Pa
(Tanka Tale, 01-26-16)
• Deborah Guzzi:   A Missive from Genevieve
(Haibun, ekphrastic, 12-15-15)
• Charles Hansmann:   Impromptu
(Lineated Poem, 12-17-15)
• Charles Hansmann:   Northerly
(Haibun, 12-21-15)
• Michelle Perez:   Reflections in a Diner Window Pane
(Lineated Poem, 01-29-16)
• Daryl Scroggins:   Holding His Own
(Micro-Fiction, 01-16-16)
• Beth Sherman:   Life List
(Micro-Fiction, 01-30-16)
• Dennis Trujillo:   Spider Bite
(Lineated Poem, 12-27-15)
• Sarah Ann Winn:   The Cruelest Month
(Micro-Fiction, 01-24-16)
• Xiaorong Jajah Wu:   Monsters
(Prose Poem, 02-07-16)

Issue 5: Spring 2016
Commentary: 999 words

Reflections on Our First Official Contest


From the Publisher:

Running your first literary contest is like everything else in life: pretty much what you make of it. On the one hand, the formula seems simple enough:

  • Settle on a theme or concept.
  • Estimate participation numbers based on past and potential contributors.
  • Set a time frame and deadline.
  • Develop a clear set of submission guidelines.
  • Determine affordable award levels based on revenue from entry fees.
  • Sign up your judges and establish an evaluation process.
  • Develop your marketing or promotions plan.

Then, flick the green light and settle back for a delightful reading experience.

On the other hand, like most things we humans do, running a contest, especially for the first time, is a complicated, controversial, financially insolvent, error-prone, worrisome, and unpredictable endeavor that follows Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

  • Shortly after launch, a fierce wind storm will knock out the power for 48 hours in your rural PNW neighborhood, where no electricity means no running water and heat, and worse—no internet connection. So you take the Chromebook you hold in reserve, in case your iMac ever crashes, to coffee shops in town where you thaw out and check for submissions.

  • Your guidelines will have snags or ambiguities you couldn’t have imagined but seem obvious to everyone else.

  • Rather than read the rules, writers will email you to ask, “When’s the deadline?” One writer will say his entry is attached, except it isn’t, so you politely respond that all entries must arrive through Submittable. You stress that you look forward to considering his work, but you never hear from him again.

  • Half-way to the deadline, you will panic when you realize you have only 14 entries—but know you need 300 to break even. You decide to cancel the contest, but then reconsider and scramble to contact everyone you know, asking them again to help spread the word.

  • You will agonize over disqualifying, in fairness to other contestants, three works that include prohibited variations of the challenge words.

  • One writer will ask you to bend the rules and accept his entries by postal mail because he prefers paper—which you politely decline to do because you have no time to process paper copies, nor to scan them for your out-of-state judges.

  • One writer will withdraw her entry for revisions—two weeks after the contest has ended, and after your team has read it half-a-dozen times and picked it as a finalist.

And you will worry!

  • You will worry that you won’t get enough great material because your top prize of $300 is considerably less than a thousand dollars, the bar you must reach in order to advertise your contests in Poets & Writers and to run with the “big dogs” of the literary world.

  • You will fret that writers whose works are declined will be upset and post spiteful comments on social media.

  • You will worry whether your judgment of quality is too biased.

  • You will fret that the winners will rush to tell everyone they know as soon as you send them a contract and, thereby, steal your announcement thunder.

But in the end, a literary contest must be undertaken in the spirit of adventure and passion for the arts. In the end, you will have crossed a new threshold of accomplishment and made several people very happy, if not exactly rich. The next time will be easier, you tell yourself with profound awareness, because you are part masochist and part dreamer, and, most important, you survived with your sense of humor intact.

From the Judges:

You might think that contest judges read submissions and separate them immediately into three piles: YES, MAYBE, and NO. None of us did that, until the final round. As works came in, we were naturally drawn to some more than others, but we agreed that all entries should be given fair and impartial review, which meant we read each one several times, and passed it around for a different view, assuming that each was a winner in one universe or another. Indeed, every entry had merit, if only because someone had shared something that moved them: taking a trip down a favorite street, being shocked by a memory presumed to be lost, looking for an exotic bird and finding something else.

Here are examples of our comments:

“I conclude that it deserves a thumbs up for sheer energy and freshness.”

“I’m stirred by its core emotion and the way the subject is handled in such an unusual and powerful way.”

“Wasn’t sure of this one until the last line. Wow!”

During the seven-week period that the Triple-F submission period was open, we received 68 entries—and all three of our top choices arrived during the second half. Each one seemed to surpass the one before.

Three weeks before the deadline: “Who’s Roosting in the Family Tree,” a “fetching piece” which veers abruptly from bird watching in Uruguay to a metaphor on the narrator’s relationship with his or her mother.

Eleven days before: “The month after the divorce,” with its good old-fashioned, thoughtful, authentic writing. “The kind of poem,” noted one judge, “that could be published in major print journals.”

Only four days before the contest closed, “Ladies Night” arrived. We agreed unanimously that this sassy and powerful story about three middle-aged women burning up a bar was a compelling read, crammed with “hurt and heart” and “true to life” details that “knock your socks off.” We were all barefooted and bare-souled after that.

One would think that weighing works of different genres on equal terms—that is, comparing haibun with micro-fiction with lyrical poetry with prose poems—might have been other-worldly for us. But, in fact, it’s exactly what you do when you read through each issue of KYSO Flash online. The variety of ways to be touched and inspired is practically endless, like childhood memories, or bird watching in Uruguay, or a night out with old friends.

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