Vignette competition

Presentation evening and writing workshop 14th/15th October.

The 2018 competition is open now. Closing date is June 15 2018
First prize: £100 or equivalent €


A big thank you to Ben Lawrence for his adjudication, and for having chosen a theme which proved to inspire a wide variety of responses. He has anguished long and hard over the results, but nonetheless says that he found it a pleasure and a privilege in attempting to do justice to the competition and to the diverse entries sent in.
The winning vignette is printed here, followed by Ben’s comments, along with his appreciation of the
Highly Commended and the Commended entry.

Winner: The Moon and Hamid,
John Sherwin 
(L’Oie, France)

‘Look at the moon, Hamid.’
‘It’s smiling, my brother. This is good?’
‘They say so. Stay close and keep my hand.’

The two brothers sallied forth with many a ragamuffin in raggedy trousers and flailing turban as brethren. Though the sand sucked at their legs they were of good heart, for it is fine to be party to a pilgrimage. There were songs too which, sung by a thousand, were so cacophonous they made Hamid giggle. Each time they pitched camp, the same thing.

‘The grub’s not great, my brother,’ said Hamid.
‘Not so ungrateful. They’re helping us. Look at the moon.’
‘Look at it pinched between my thumb and finger. Each night the space between will get smaller and when it’s all but gone we’ll be there.’
‘Where’s there?’

When the moon brought the sea to them Hamid cried to see such a thing. When he sipped of it
it tasted of his tears.

‘Don’t do that, Hamid.’
‘You don’t know where it’s been. See here, how small the space now is?’
‘It’s true, my brother, your fingers are almost touching. Not long then?’
‘So they say.’
Hamid was proud to have a brother who knew so many theys.

One night, surf sucking at their legs, they were scragged aboard a dinghy. No songs. Hamid pretended a grown-up scowl. More kept coming. Then more. Hamid ended on his brother’s lap, jammed between sodden bodies with sunken eyes. They breathed as little as possible.

The dinghy went over. Hamid lost his brother’s grip, slid into the frothing, violent cold. Down, peacefully down. Then a hand palmed him to the surface.

‘Look at the moon, Hamid,’ the touch said, for there were no words between brothers, then or thereafter.




Once upon a time in the Punk era, John wrote for numerous fanzines. In Hong Kong, he co-founded the Joint Liaison Group of poets with American poet Louie Crew. Currently, as a trained sommelier, he writes a monthly article on wine for the Deux Sèvres Magazine. He won the Segora vignette prize in 2014. In a bid to break the 300-word barrier he is slaving away on his first novel about a champion wine taster with almost supernatural abilities.


Unfortunately this is not even remotely autobiographical.

Judge's comments
I find this account intimate yet panoramic, and tragically universal in its broader picture, whilst retaining a humour and an almost childlike quality in its language.  It also evokes the theme of ‘space’ on different levels, from the personal, to the human, to the celestial.

Highly commended

Melanie’s Space, Sharon Boyle (East Linton, Scotland)
I found this piece charming and quirky, showing how intention and chance can return us to the same physical or emotional space, and how these can sometimes be one in the same. It also depicts a tension between mourning what we’ve lost and getting on with what we’ve got, with language that shifts from the everyday to the more shadowy.


Sailing By, Jane Westwell (Wem, England)
Haunting and compact, this entry evokes the vast yet enclosed space of the open ocean, with little shards of humour, touched by a more ambiguous ending.