Feb 202011

Click to play for appropriate soundtrack during your reading of the post.

After an inexcusable delay, here are the finalists for the OFFICIAL 2011 Numéro Cinq Erasure Contest. The management wishes to apologize for the tardiness of this post. One can only blame the indolent and refractory judges who, for reasons known only to themselves, decided to strike in sympathy with protesters against autocratic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, and Wisconsin.

Just to be clear: newcomers should realize that all NC contests have a double trajectory. There is a People’s Choice Winner and then an Official Winner chosen by a panel of anonymous, highly paid, drunken, dissolute, rebellious, puerile, ill-read layabouts. Thus the Official NC Winner is something like the Booker Prize. The list of OFFICIAL ENTRIES for this year’s contest is here. And the PEOPLE’S CHOICE winner is here.

Aside from malcontent judges, there were many difficulties involved in coming up with a short list, chief among them the huge number of highly creative and even surprising entries including Anna Maria Johnson’s “wall” entry with its gorgeous visual pun and Meg Harris’s blog entry which you had to follow a link to read. In the end the judges decided to decide by strictly applying the two signal virtues recognized on NC: WIT & ARROGANCE—above all else. This meant that the best entries had to carve out a sentiment that was somehow entirely DIFFERENT from the one intended in the original piece and add some twist of irony or grammar that also gave it ZING, EXCITEMENT, AFFLATUS, or HUMOUR.

Thus we ended up with a list that included Vivian Dorsel’s text, tumescent with double entendres, Lynne Quarmby’s “scholar” entry, which very slyly reads like a fortune cookie, Marilyn McCabe’s extremely witty double entry that manages to repeat the same thought in two radically different modes, Adam Arvidson’s whatever-it-is with its thudding parallel constructions and final turn, Sarah Braud’s hilarious list of rules, and then, yes, Lynne Quarmby AGAIN for her little doublet about two people named Grace and Prudence.

It is thought by the judges that these entries embody the values that we at Numéro Cinq hold dear.

I Have Laid Down

I have laid down.

you must, you must I say, push and Thrust alternately
and then sometime after make the other Thrusts faster
but with more art.

endeavour, by long exercise, Pushing well.
the exteriour Part must be stout—so essential.
act with a good Grace, to the purpose.

don’t keep back your Thrust, or avoid Thrusts.
take advantage of the situation by plain Thrusts
or take the Time, by half Thrusts, to push and push.

—Vivian Dorsel

When you have some time with a Scholar disposed to a lesson, take advantage of the situation. Capacity to turn order to disorder gives Light.

—Lynne Quarmby

Time used you, Man.
But turn the Body with Grace
and Time, in Time, gives Light.


I warned you, Art,
turn stout and you are out.

—Marilyn McCabe

you Rule
you Feinting Being
you Adversary you

you Rule
you Practice
you want
you fear
you attack

you shou’d serve

—Adam Arvidson

I have laid down the Rules:
1. Avoid Exercise.
2. Make art.
3. Follow a man who helps you and lets you hit him.

—Sarah Braud

Grace! are you home?
Prudence, very often you are feeble.

—Lynne Quarmby

  13 Responses to “Official Finalists for the 2011 Numéro Cinq Erasure Contest!”

  1. Freddie rocks.

  2. The build up for the oscars is less emotionally frought. One wonders what the nominees will wear to the awards ceremony

  3. Well, let’s see…I’m in New Hampshire, where I attended a wedding last evening…so instead of re-packing, perhaps I’ll just wear my black velvet and pearls again…
    Oh, and my dancing shoes, of course.

  4. I am suffering a terrible case of Imposter Syndrome. How can it be that my name has appeared not once, but twice on a list of finalists for a prestigious Numero Cinq contest? When will they discover that it was a fluke? I don’t really know how to erase at all! And what will I wear to the awards ceremony? Ah well, I will set these worries aside and focus my hopes on winning the Talisker. Yes! With such a prize, ah what a master of erasure I could become…

  5. Congrats to the finalists!!

  6. Congratulations! RIchly deserved!!!!!

  7. What a great collection of entries posted here, each with its own delight.

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