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Winners: Short Story Award Magic Oxygen Literary Prize 2017

Tree banner announcing the winners of the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize Awards for short stories 2017

It’s time for our seriously loud annual drum roll… drrrrrrrrrrr…

The Team are absolutely delighted to announce the winners in the short story category in this year’s Magic Oxygen Literary Prize.

We hosted the awards ceremony last night at the Woodmead Halls in Lyme Regis and were delighted to be joined by a handful of the amazingly talented folks who were on our shortlist, we even had a few of the top five winners too.

Colleen MacMahon1st Prize £1,000

Desideratum by Colleen MacMahon from England

I have to pre-cursor my thoughts on this winning piece with a clarification. I had absolutely no idea the writer of the short stories ranked 1st and 2nd, was the same person, yet once I was the other side of submitting my final judgement, I wasn’t surprised at all.

Colleen accompanied me on another journey packed with high emotion, with a powerful, yet astoundingly uncomplicated story line; less is most definitely more here. The end game, whilst predictable, was delicately told and laced with such an incredible bond of love and the practicalities she sprinkled through the story, helped me hold back a floodgate of tears. It wasn’t schmaltzy – this type of tale always runs the risk that it might be. The characterisation was entirely adequate, yet left room for enigma. They were believable souls who were ripped apart by their circumstances, and in a little over 3,000 words, I felt I knew who they were and what would happen beyond the close of their earthly time together. The simple narrative delivered comfort and consolation, their word-play was poignantly peppered with gentle realism and I was left contented and fully fed as a reader. Absolutely brilliant work, well done for nailing the top two spots; ultimate respect.

2nd Prize £300

Closure by Colleen MacMahon from England

Colleen’s top two winning entries are exceptionally finely constructed pieces of entertaining short fiction, both entirely different and linked purely by their excellence. Her 2nd place winner, Closure, was a tour de force that oozed great compassion. I imagine it is impossible to empathise with the main character unless you’ve been in that situation – and I hope nobody has – but I felt strongly convinced that the behaviour patterns were entirely believable. The writing transported me across the miles without effort, her descriptive powers were puissant and enduring and the ending wrapped this supremely dark tale up sufficiently for me to let go of the content and resolution; this writer is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Jennifer Saxton 3rd Prize Magic Oxygen Literary Prize Award 20173rd Prize £100

After The Wave by Jennifer Saxton from England

Jennifer’s entry, After the Wave, won 3rd prize with style and had a shuddering impact on my psyche. Not wanting to give the game away, but this story had me in its comforting, motherly clinches until the intended reveal. It takes skill to pull off a twist this well – I’m reminded of The Sixth Sense – and Jennifer has it in good supply. The narrative between the characters was credible, the level of concern in the mother wasn’t exorbitant, yet the shrouded facts remained in clear view all the time and their camouflage held fast until the precise moment the author intended it to concede. A nefarious tale of Münchhausen syndrome by proxy exquisitely executed with beguiling finesse.

Jacqueline Bain 3rd Magic Oxygen Literary Prize Award 2017Highly Commended

Iradukunda by Jacqueline Bain from Scotland

As I traversed through the intensely daunting account of Iradukunda, I had no trouble allowing myself to become fully embraced by its heat, fear and mystery; it made the story all the more enjoyable for doing so. Jacqueline’s scenes were vivid, gorgeously graphic and well narrated, and the lead up to the outcome left me sharing the despair, anxiety, then eventual relief of the protagonist. Another very well crafted, startling tale of our times that could equally have been set 50 years ago or more. I hope by highlighting this horrific business in fiction, it draws us one step closer to it ending.

Louise McDowell Highly Commended Magic Oxygen Literary Prize Award 2017Highly Commended

Tempus by Louise McDowell from England

Tempus, oh Tempus, how you played with my head! Louise’s futuristic tale was horribly believable and had solid technical merit. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, in this very effectual ‘out of the ordinary’ tale. I found myself sidetracking to ponder where and when I’d go and what I’d pack if I had the opportunity. The degree of thrill delivered was more than sufficient, the persuasive plausibility of the basic premise was tremendous and a little bit terrifying too. I’m sure her other tales are equally packed with the unexpected and I could certainly imagine this one as a short film.

Congratulations are also in order for the talented writers who made it through to our shortlist, in alphabetical author surname order they are: Silver Harvest by Ali Bacon, Upali by Anoushka Beazley, The Fox by Mark Brandi, Tylluan Valley by Sarah Dixon and Captivated by Sarah Horton.

Our poetry winners were equally amazing – click here to find out more about who scooped the top 5 coveted places. Click here to order the anthology and we’ll plant a tree for every one sold.

If your creative juices are all fired up, you might like to note that the doors to MOLP4 will be open on 1st October 2017.

It will run through to 31st December 2017 and we will look forward to receiving your entries in short stories and poetry once more.

The Magic Oxygen Literary Prize is the only writing contest where everyone wins, as we plant a tree for every single entry in our Word Forest and build classrooms in impoverished communities in Coast Province, Kenya too.

The positive impact that previous MOLPs have had, led to us starting The Word Forest Organisation, an NGO specifically founded to replicate the incredible reforestation and classroom building work we’ve done, throughout the Coast Province of Kenya.

If you’d like to support the project why not consider buying a few trees in our Word Forest, becoming a member, getting involved as a corporate partner, or simply spreading the word about it on your social media.

Ahh… I can’t believe we’re the other side of our beloved MOLP once more… I think it’s time for a nice spot of afternoon chill and to curl up with a good book!

The Team