Dec 042010


Canadians take these literary contests very seriously as you can see from this photo taken outside dg's house Saturday morning. Several bus loads of fans from Toronto, Montreal and Moose Jaw had waited through the night to hear the results. This put quite a strain on the bathroom facilities as you might imagine. Perhaps this is not a propos. If you look carefully in the top left quandrant, you'll see Rich Farrell waving the Stars and Stripes.

Click to play the music while you read the following announcement. Actually dg finds that if you play the music AND read the announcement out loud, you get the full effect.

Never before in the long and hallowed history of Numéro Cinq literary contests have the judges awarded a tie. But Anna Maria Johnson’s “The Way To A Man’s Heart is Through His Stomach, or Kitchen Ostinato” and Vivian Dorsel’s “Birthday Rondeau” just could not be weighed one against the other and found wanting. In all the judging categories (Degree of Difficulty, Execution, Creativity, Wit & Arrogance), they were found equal. Anna Maria probably would have won except that, as one judge pointed out, she did not use his favourite word “bastinado” which, given her rhyme scheme, would have fit perfectly. Her poem has a brash comedic sense, a beautiful little scene and the word “desperado” which is an NC word if there ever was one. Even so, for a while, Vivian had the lead in the judges’ estimation for her brilliant use of the word “presbyopically”—as far as we know, even Shakespeare could not work this word into a poem. Also for her straight on, mordant wisdom in the face of aging (something reminiscent of Thomas Wyatt here). Truthfully, these are both lovely, joyful pieces of writing, the sort of thing these contests are meant to inspire. But the fact that so many of you made the attempt is the most gratifying thing. Making the attempt, dg thinks, changes your brain for the better. NC is a mind-altering substance.

Anna Maria Johnson is a current Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing student and an amazing visual artist. Her poem won the NC People’s Choice competition. And she is already famous for her Novel-in-a-Box contest entry. Vivian Dorsel is one of dg’s former students and founder, publisher and editor of the splendid literary magazine upstreet.


The complete entry list is here. The finalists are here. The People’s Choice winner is here.

Anna Maria Johnson

The Way To A Man’s Heart is Through His Stomach, or Kitchen Ostinato

In the kitchen, eating avocado,
Sits a housewife and a desperado.
He weeps gently while she peels a carrot.
“Things are not what they seem!” squawks her parrot,
then with his beak, pecks an ostinato.

The housewife drinks some amontillado
then scoops a handful of turbinado
to sweeten the tea before they share it
in the kitchen.

The cowboy, trouble aficionado,
tells her that his name is Leonardo.
He’s wasted years on things without merit.
Would he settle down now? Could he dare it?
He gives her a stolen carbinado
in the kitchen.

Vivian Dorsel

Birthday Rondeau
(for those of us born in November)

Advancing age will let us down
Quicker than a strapless gown.
The mirror’s view is looking blighted:
Body a wreck, presbyopically sighted,
Face fixed in a perpetual frown.

No longer do we sport youth’s crown;
These curls are white which once were brown.
We rue those days in which we slighted
Advancing age.

Now Senior is a proper noun
Though in opprobrium we drown,
Desire unreturned, lust unrequited.
Our spurning loves, as one, have cited
That sad excuse of long renown:
Advancing age.

  9 Responses to “2010 Numéro Cinq Rondeau Writing Contest: The Winners”

  1. Congratulations, Vivian and Anna Maria! I haven’t had time to follow the Rondeau contest, what with moving and all, but these are both wonderful–something heartening to wake to on a snowy morn in Saskatoon!

  2. It’s definitely an honor to be tied with Anna Maria’s “Kitchen Ostinato.” I congratulate us both. Also, I’d like to thank the Academy…oh, wait, that was planned for another event…um, I’d like to thank the Numero Cinq judges…what was that prize again?

  3. Congrats! Congrats! I do hope the prize is not split but awarded fully to each.

  4. Congrats to the winners! I hope that all will be available for the Awards Banquet. The Talisker is being slowly transported to Montpelier (a la the Olympic torch)

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