Wow….We didn’t expect this many entrants! Thank you to all who submitted work to our Conflict Songs competitions. The judges have their work cut out! We are only half way through the judging process but we are beginning to establish a longlist. Winners will be notified in due course.
Welcome to Bard and Muse, a short story and poetry website lauching the best writing competitions on the web!
We are pleased to announce that our Songs of Conflict writing season has now commenced. The season begins with the Voices Of War writing competition, commemorating all aspects of modern conflict and its effects on modern Britain and modern Britons; The closing date for submissions for the competition is September 25. The winner of Voices of War will receive £1000 and there shall be ten runners-up each winning £100.It is free to enter. The winning entries will form part of an anthology to be published later in the year. Please read full details of the competition under the Voices of War and Submission Guidelines Tabs
Bard and Muse are also pleased to announce the launch of our 2012 Student Poetry Competition. The prize structure is the same as Voices of War, with £1,000 going to the winner and £100 awarded to ten runners-up. The 28/7/2014 competition-poetry only- is our biggest giveaway yet. All our competitions are free to enter- full details can be found under the Student Poetry Competition tab.
Bard and Muse?
Last year, I was in a hostel in Colombia. I couldn’t get to sleep. sheepishly I went to the hostel’s bar in the hope of prospective sedation. Whilst drinking, a stocky, loud but friendly man joined me. We began chatting;this and that; more of this; some more of that. He was visibly sweating, this friendly man, and said he hadn’t slept in over twenty hours. Maybe it was the climate, we agreed, and sank a few more beers.
As we chatted I learnt he had just come off-duty from Afghanistan. I’d been reading Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn whilst drinking alone at the bar with its large front cover of an airborne ‘chopper and a clustered jungle scene form Vietnam. He’s noticed it, he said, and that was the reason he decided to sit down next to me. Anyway, we chatted some more. He told me about his recent experiences fighting the Taleban, fighting the desert, fighting the boredom. I was engrossed, here was a humble guy filled with what seemed to be exotic, colourful tales of derring-do. Eventually, I went to bed. The next morning I was on a day tour around the cocoa plantations of Medellin-Escobar country.
When I arrived back, my new friend was still drinking and still awake. Still unable to sleep, apparently. We chatted some more; he sweated some more, I was enthralled by the stories I heard some more. That night I would be dreaming of platoon movements, desolate opium fields and vicious sandstorms, of insurgents and counter-insurgents and all the other strange things his tales had filled my sleeping head with.
The next morning I was alarmed to see my new-found army buddy stretchered out of the hostel-dead. He’d taken sleeping pills to try to get some sleep. only two apparently. But he had a heart attack whilst asleep. It was incredibly sad, seeing this man whose stories of escapade, adventure, of good and evil and of bravery and comradeship, had so invigorated me brought down to this unheroic,intolerably pathetic end.
As I said goodbye to his body as it was shipped out of the hostel’s front doors I remembered vividly something he’d spoken of on the first night I’d met him; that he was thinking of ‘going private’. He explained how many soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan had ‘gone private’, going from working for the government to working for private security firms, making much more money in the process. The only problem, he admitted,was that i he went private and ‘anything ever happened to him’, his family, particularly his expectant wife’s imminent baby, wouldn’t receive a state Army pension. It was a real dilemma, he said, and I can remember him cogitating deeply about the pros and cons of him ‘going private’ amidst the comfortable silences of the previous night’s conversation. The recollection of those words reverberated around the hostel, echoing in the dormitories, chattering amongst the empty beer bottles, flickering open the pages of my suddenly more meaningful Vietnam novel. Those words, as well as the image of his forlorn outstretched corpse, have stayed with me ever since.
I met his father in the hostel the next day. He’d flown out from Miami to collect his dead son’s body. It was all very sad and the nature of his son’s death, a seeming lack of sleep mixed with some underlying, unknown heart problem, seemed cruelly mysterious . Not to mention utterly pointless.
Since that experience I have become more interested in people, in war, in sadness and in pointlessness. I have become very interested in war poetry. Bard and Muse, my website partly dedicated to the Muses of pain and pointlessness, has proved a most cathartic endeavour.