Feb 282011

Not the official winner. This is a computer simulation of the actual award ceremony.

At long last, after much delay occasioned by feckless judges who are next thing to derelicts and juvenile delinquents, using Numéro Cinq expense accounts to go on sea and surf vacations in Guadeloupe, stock their wine cellars, and buy braces for their kids. One judge financed matching face lifts for himself and his dog out of his NC per diems. This is what the management has to put up with. On the other hand, the judges are in unanimous agreement for a change. Their matchless literary tastes have coincided. And who cares about their personal foibles as long as they deliver pristine and irreproachable judgments—eventually?

And to this end, all the NC judges agreed, that for wit and arrogance, this time, no one could touch Sarah Braud’s entry (with or without the “illegal” numbers). The finalists were brilliant, but there was just too much twist in the tail of Sarah’s last line to resist. And in a literary world where often the words are delivered by and meant for men, this entry flips the entire culture on its head—starting with the words “rules” followed by the deliciously subversive “Avoid exercise.” It does it with sublime timing, exuberance and mischievous glee.

Congratulations! Three cheers! 21-gun salute! You are now the object of envy of the Entire Literary World, possibly the Universe. Soon people who barely know you will be asking for help with their entries for the next NC contest (and possibly small loans).  One piece of advice: Do not accept emails from NC Contributing Editors asking you for credit card and bank account information. It is simply not true that Rich Farrell needs your help to succeed to that $1 million inheritance from his Mexican uncle.

The list of OFFICIAL ENTRIES for this year’s contest is here. And the PEOPLE’S CHOICE winner is here. The Official Finalists are here.

The winning entry reads:

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

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.

Continue reading »

Feb 082011

For the full effect, play the video while you read the announcement.

We got the most votes ever in the People’s Choice competition for the erasure contest. It was incontestably a hotly contested contest (dg still has packet fever). And many of you were very naughty and voted for multiple entries in an attempt, no doubt, to increase dg’s anxiety and insomnia (due to packet fever). The judges decided that in keeping with the inclusiveness of NC, all votes would be counted as first place votes (since there isn’t any 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place prize AND since many of you didn’t distinguish between your first place vote and the others). This is dg’s solution in the face of what appears to be a Cairo-like mass rebellion of popular democracy. So be it. (And BTW dg loves you all.)

And the winner of the first annual Numéro Cinq Erasure Contest is…


for her amazing erasure creation—


You must, you must! I say,
Make telling one another your Rule.
Formed to this method
Gives room to the Parts (disposed to Art)
To Practice Lightness, Suppleness and Vigour.

Act with a good Grace.
Fear the Blade of disorder.
Avoid Prudence.
Demonstrate that Enterprise procures Quality.

Opposed by Time, Counter to Time:
His Parade.
Serve Order. Give Light.

—Natalia Sarkissian

Sarah Braud ran a very close second place. You can count the votes for yourselves here (probably you’d better since dg had packet fever when he was counting). There were very many entries that got first place votes.

An anonymous child, age 9, who entered under the name Chirag won the Minnow Class People’s Choice. (DG was in touch with the child’s enterer–dg can’t think of the right word because he has packet fever–and there were good and lovely reasons for withholding the child’s identity. But the entry was legitimate and the prize well-deserved.)

The original contest post with all the entries and with the original text from which the erasures were taken is here.


p.s. Now we await the official prize judgment, soon to be coming from the judges, the official judges of the official competition, as opposed to the riot of popular opinion displayed in the People’s Choice competition. You may have to wait a while since one of the judges has packet fever.

Feb 012011

Numéro Cinq contest judges are in high demand when it comes to picking winners in literary contests.


Entries for the First Annual Numéro Cinq Erasure Contest are officially closed. As usual with NC competitions, the adjudication now splits into two streams. While the ancient & sapient judges retire to their secret meeting place in a former ICBM missile bunker deep in the Adirondack Mountains to drink Talisker and read the entries, you, THE PEOPLE, or the GREAT UNWASHED (a phrase coined by, yes, Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his 1830 novel Paul Clifford — was there ever a less prepossessing title chosen for a novel?), or the HOI POLLOI (from the Greek). yes, YOU! get to choose the People’s Choice winner.

This is always a joyful and entertaining aspect of the contest judging. You get to read the entries, comment and vote or vote with commentary or just comment on the generally high quality, the wit, the arrogance, and the intelligence of the entries.

The official entry list is here.

Read the entries, kick yourselves for not having entered this esteemed and wildly popular competition (if you didn’t), and place your votes in the comment box beneath this post.

You have one week (Feb 1 to midnight Feb 7) to place your votes!

Don’t forget to actually read the entries before voting!



Running Tally (Midnight Monday Feb 7)

Minnow Class

Chirag 2

Adult entries

Anna Maria Johnson 5

Sera Yu 1

Meg Harris (2nd entry) 1

Glenn Arnold 1

Dorothy Bendel 1

Vivian Dorsel 3

Natalia Sarkissian 8

Rich Farrell 1

Sarah Braud’s “I have laid down the rules…” 6

Sarah Seltzer 4

Lynne Quarmby 4

Marilyn McCabe 1

Erin Lee 1

Melissa Fisher 1

Sheila Stuewe 1

Ian Bodkin 1

Martin Balgach 1

Kim Aubrey 2

Timothy Cahill 1

Jean-Marie Jackson 1