Amanda's Circus

Good News from Venice

I was in Venice trogging around the Biennale (this takes days and is as tough on your creative energy reserves as it is on your feet, in case you were thinking me an escapist slacker); my submissions were well into the dark, back cellars of my mind. Obviously Venice itself takes up a great deal of one’s consciousness and the A view of Rialto Bridge in VeniceBiennale was absolutely beyond expectation (actually, I’ll admit to being an escapist slacker) so when I eventually made use of the free wifi in our apartment, I was rather taken aback to find I’d been congratulated several times by my Twitter friends. Great news –  I had a story on the Bristol Prize Longlist http://www.bristolprize.co.uk/news/126-2013-bssp-longlist-announced.html Many thanks to them for noticing. So Venice, fantastic contemporary art, and a writing success – how much more ecstatic can one be?

Apparently there were 2510 entries so it is a wonder to be selected for the top forty. The readers say that there were a large number of stories written in second person, and also featuring child narrators. My story fitted neither of those categories but I do like to write in 2nd person – can’t stand writing with a child narrator. They mention various common themes: alcohol, revenge, water, science, outsiders, Greek mythology, absent fathers. They generously describe the reading process as (and I’m quoting this for egotistical reasons): “We were so impressed with the standard of the stories on the longlist and the display of such writing talent. Each year the Bristol Short Story Prize receives such strong entries but the level of accomplished writing this year surpassed our expectations. Huge congratulations to all of the writers on this longlist, it has been such a pleasure to read your stories. I can’t wait to find out the identity of the writers behind these brilliant stories.”

Il-palazzo-enciclopedicoThey have also published a list of thirty notable contenders – those who didn’t make the longlist. I’m not quite sure that I would have felt too delighted if my name were on that particular list. If you enter and do not make a shortlist or indeed a longlist, you at least have the benefit of anonymity – the story needed more work or it wasn’t right for the reader. In fact I entered two stories for this year’s Bristol Prize, one of which was glancing towards the surreal, and I am aware that that surrealism is positively disliked by many readers and that is why I invariably submit two stories to a competition – always hoping that they’ll take the surreal one because that is how I prefer to write. It is interesting to see, however, that this year’s Biennale gives more than a sidelong glance towards the surreal. In many cases work is a full-blown, rude stare of surrealism straight in the eye. In the artists’ blurbs, many references are made towards Andre Breton, and a key word appears to be ‘phantasmagorical’. Realism is certainly not what this Biennale is about. Perhaps it’s the case that when times are good, artists are concerned with confronting the world and exploring it’s truths in a realistic way but when times are bleak, surrealism enables artists to explore reality through other worlds and visions.  Maybe, as Twitter would say, the surreal is trending.

More on creativity, optimism and the imagination in my article about the Biennale http://amandaoosthuizen.com/venice-biennale-a-bestiary-of-the-imagination/.

2 Comments to "Good News from Venice"

  1. t upchurch says:

    Ooh, good luck for the next step!

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