Columns > Published on May 1st, 2013

UPDATED WITH WINNER: LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: April (and POETRY) Edition

Flash fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity.

Flash poetry: A style of poetry we are making up for the purpose of turning our fiction contest into a poetry contest in honor of Poetry Month!

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess. For this edition, we are going to alter the rules in honor of Poetry Month!

How It Works

We give you inspiration in the form of a poem and a prompt with a specific set of parameters. You write a short poem using the inspiration and prompt we gave you. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked and awarded a prize.

The Rules

  • 28 words is the limit. (You can write less, but you can't write more.)
  • It has to be a poem.
  • Give it a title (not included in the word count, but keep it under 10 words).
  • We're not exactly shy, but let's stay away from senseless racism or violence.
  • One entry per person.
  • Editing your entry after you submit it is permitted.
  • We'll pick a winner on the last day of the month.
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate.
  • All poems submitted on or before April 29 will be considered. We'll run the winner on April 30.

This Month's Prize

A copy of Monica Drake's new novel, The Stud Book. If you aren't familiar with this amazing author (you should be—she's great!), she's a member of Chuck Palahniuk's amazing writing group in Portland along with Cheryl Strayed, Chelsea Cain, and LitReactor Instructor Suzy Vitello. Here's what Monica has to say about herself:

I have an MFA from the University of Arizona and teach at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. My debut Novel, Clown Girl, is published by the amazing indie press, Hawthorne Books, and has won an Eric Hoffer Award as well as an IPPY. It’s been translated into Italian, and recently optioned for film by the brilliant Kristen Wiig (SNL, Bridesmaids).

Her new book comes out this month! Here's a synopsis from Amazon.com:

In the hip haven of Portland, Oregon, a pack of unsteady but loyal friends asks what it means to bring babies into an already crowded world.

Sarah studies animal behavior at the zoo. She’s well versed in the mating habits of captive animals, and at the same time she’s desperate to mate, to create sweet little offspring of her own. Georgie is busy with a newborn, while her husband, Humble, finds solace in bourbon and televised violence. Dulcet makes a living stripping down in high school gyms to sell the beauty of sex-ed. Nyla is out to save the world while having trouble saving her own teen daughter, who has discovered the world of drugs and the occult. As these friends and others navigate a space between freedom and intimacy, they realize the families they forge through shared experience are as important as those inherited through birth.

A smart, edgy and poignantly funny exploration of the complexities of what parenthood means today, Monica Drake's second novel demonstrates that when it comes to babies, we can learn a lot by considering our place in the animal kingdom.

Your Inspiration

This is a classic poem by Doctor/Poet William Carlos Williams.

"This Is Just To Say"

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

- William Carlos Williams

Your Prompt

Using William Carlos William's poem as a prompt, write a poem of 28 words (like his) that apologizes for something you are (or the speaker of the poem is) not actually sorry about.

Now get writing!


And the winner is...artistic addict

While there were fewer entries than usual this month, the quality of the entries was very high. I had a very hard time picking just one.

That said, I enjoyed artistic addict's dark riff on the original poem, and loved that he even preserved the formatting and capitalization. Plus, it made me laugh. Well done!

There're Two Ways To Serve Man, My Dear Cheating Wife

I have eaten
your chum
that was in
our icebox

and whom
you were probably
serving
for breakfast

Forgive me
he was delicious
so sweet
you would know

About the author

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer for an engineering firm and volunteers on the planning committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education.

She holds a degree in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. In the English graduate program at Penn State, she taught college composition courses and hosted a poetry club for a group of high school writers.

While living in Seattle, Taylor started and taught a free writing class called Writer’s Cramp (see the website). She has also taught middle school Language Arts & Spanish, tutored college students, and mentored at several Seattle writing establishments such as Richard Hugo House. She’s presented on panels at Associated Writing Programs Conference and the Pennsylvania College English Conference and led writing groups in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado for writers of all ages & abilities. She loves to read, write, teach & debate the Oxford Comma with anyone who will stand still long enough.

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