The Winners of the That's PRD Writing Contest Spring 2018

By That's PRD, June 4, 2018

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In early April, we called upon our readers to submit their best written work in our second-ever That’s PRD Writing Contest. Much like our inaugural literary competition back in 2016, we received a huge number of submissions from folks across the Pearl River Delta, with genres ranging from travel writing and nonfiction stories to poetry and fun, fictional adventures. 

On May 19, we invited 15 finalists to join us in Guangzhou and share their work with a live audience – and a panel of judges made up of three prominent PRD-based journalists – at Atlas Coffee in Zhujiang New Town. The event was a huge success and at its conclusion, three writers were honored for their works and brilliant presentations.

But before we share our judge’s top three picks and our editor's choice winners, we want to sincerely thank everyone who participated in this year’s event: without your creative minds, this contest and subsequent reading event would not have been possible. And without further ado...


Orchids

Thomas Thorogood
First Place Winner and Audience Choice Winner
Guangzhou

And I wonder if she is bones yet
if the dress she was buried in
hangs loose now

nothing left of the vessel that
held her voice
through a payphone
in Andorra and my breath
was frozen

to eulogise her
absurd
rationalising someone
so bursting with life
that

in memoriam, every story
entwined with her
has finished.

Rare orchids grow
on the warren
they’re fenced away
the sun sets on
the estuary and

this woman in
the dunes.

I’d never been
stunned by love
like that to see
beauty imbued

and now I want to
tear the orchids up
from the root
and grind them
between the tors
of the moor

I want this whole
Jurassic coast to
fall into the sea

since maybe it was
me that killed her

maybe my panicked
chemical spite spread like
poison and grew in
her brain 

she stood in
a neighbour’s doorway
asking if it’s normal
to go numb

her family;
mum, dad,
brother abroad,
two dogs named
after English castles

just months to prepare.

They call it
survivor’s guilt but seems
more a cruel joke that she
ends and, as
wretched as
I am, I continue.

A grave in Ivybridge
with nothing in it
but bones and rags

and so
and so
I do continue

and, older now than
she will ever be,

her truth is held in
fallible thoughts

her boots on the moor
her script in the book

the first time we undressed
each other and soaked in
each other’s bodies

I ached with love

an ache she set
into my bones
it is in my marrow
I feel her in the cold.


Meat Buns

Naomi Lounsbury
Second Place Winner
Guangzhou

Xiaoli wanted meat buns. They were her weakness. She had been a fat child, so she'd learned to like chicken feet and Chinese cabbage and sweet potato leaves and to drink plain green tea and do all these things that traditional Chinese culture demands. When she went home to her family, they commented on how thin and pretty she was, but secretly, she would sell her own soul for the chance to eat as many of the spicy beef meat buns as she could without gaining weight.

She worked in a real estate office across from the Lujiang Metro Station and knew that 50 meters from her was a meat bun shop.

At quarter to noon, she messaged her boss who worked in the desk next to her, going to grab a bun from the shop across the way.

He nodded, not looking up from his phone. Her boss didn't care. There weren't any clients today.

She wandered across the street to stand in line at the meat bun shop. The shop always had a special on, four buns for RMB6, but she never bought four.

"One beef bun." She played on her phone as she ordered. She paid with WeChat and grabbed the bun. She pulled the plastic bag down and took a bite while juggling her phone in her hand.

She closed her eyes for a second, enjoying the flavor, then intuition kicked in as she felt a tug at her phone. Her eyes snapped open as a boy, no more than 15 and in a school uniform, grabbed her phone and started running. The quick action dislodged the meat bun from her hands and it fell to the ground. She had but a moment to mourn and then she picked it up and started chasing the thief.

"Hey, motherf*cker!" Xiaoli was never rude but sometimes the situation called for it. She chased him around the corner, onto Xiadu Lu, holding the meat bun. He was fast but she was angry and not because of the phone.

She watched as he weaved through people ahead, so she jumped off the sidewalk and ran next to the cars. A little more dangerous, but she didn't care.

Five meters. Four. Why didn't he turn down a side road? He looked back and his eyes widened when he realized how close she was. She grabbed the collar of his shirt with her free hand and he tumbled to the ground. She let go before he took her with him.

“How dare you?” she hissed as she started kicking him, out of breath and sweaty. She still had the meat bun in her hand. “You want to steal my phone and make me drop my f*cking meat bun?” She putted him one more time for good measure, grabbed her phone and turned around.

He stayed down.

She walked back to the office, still a little angry about the thieving teenager who made her drop her meat bun.

She walked through the door of the office and her boss was still staring at his phone.

"You're back quick," he said without looking up.

“Yeah, I'm going to go nap.”


The Nature of Man

Franklin Foster
Third Place Winner
Guangzhou

I got a boulder on my mind
And I can’t take the shit
I step outside looking for a shady place to sit
Sit in the grass with some grass, try to break it in
The world should be cool…
Since there’s so much shadiness
I notice more snakes every time I take a hit
The world is full of them…
Hard to find someone that ain’t been bit
Only a few blades of grass can really break cement
And that could change your life
Depending how you take it in
Because, Malcolm X was one
That grew and left streets with dents
So I’d be happy to walk through
The pastures he went
But when I begin, I’m taken by the wind
Something I can’t see moving
Whenever it makes the trees bend
Watching ants crawl
Wishing my family could live like that
Fall in perfect line with each other
And just chill like that
Build a colony of our own…
Wish we could live like that
It’s crazy how a bunch of bugs
Can make me feel like that… damn
But on some real life shit
I need green to live
On some chlorophyll type shit
That’s why I really need a deal right quick
So instead of looking for jobs
I still write hits…
Smell of manure make me feel like shit
They say you reap what you sow
What can I give my kids? Shit…
As of now
A lot of pain, a lot of brains
Not a lot of change
But I promise I’m not ashamed
I just need my plants properly arranged
And in order for it to grow
It’ll need a lot of rain
Shit, if I can survive the hurricane
And my life is dirt now
That means I got a lot to gain


Taken

Jennifer Merri Parker
Editor's Choice Winner
Shenzhen 

I did not ask permission
and would not have, had I dared
and known the words to say it: "May I?"
It would not have spared us
the embarrassment of sharing
something strangers rarely share,
a sense our souls rubbed elbows
on an elevated train, brushed fingers
in the market and got flashes of our pain
or caught within the pair of eyes
they glimpsed across an aisle
the hope their desert islands
were inhabited, at last,
at least for just a moment,
just in passing. Then it passed.
But now I have you, captured
in the camera in my phone. Now,
for moments when I'm fragile
or frustrated or alone,
there will always be the pixels
of the bit of soul I stole
from you as you were heading home,
forever mine to own.


King Kong from Three Angles

Iva Ticic
Editor's Choice Winner
Guangzhou

One

If the Kong was real,
then so was the girl.

She twirled and spun for him
in her white skimpy outfit.

If not, was it all made up?
How much weed

did those writers have to smoke,
to make her this way?

And let’s say the Kong represents
the male member, its imposing

deliberate quality. What does that exactly
have to do with me? How much longer

must I shrug away, to hem and to haw,
before I too, can have the full package?

Two

Kong lifts his magnificent eyebrows:
he’s about to rage, I can tell.

I stand in silence, trying to defer
the outburst. Instead I only egg him on.

Everything about me, provokes him:
the dress, the lack thereof, the lush feeling

of my sex
sings to him.

Three

Guolai, come to me,
Kiss me & I will be

your little frog. Your giant
fragile f*cking frog.

When I make a fist: my grip
only as tight

as your waistline.


Click here to see photos from our live reading event on May 19.

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