This is an anthology of the winning entries for the poetry, short fiction, and flash fiction annual contest held in 2020. It includes the ‘commended’ entries, too.
The Bridport is a well-respected international literary competition. Along with other contemporary creative activities, what is considered ‘good’ is down to personal taste. We’ve all heard the regular furore over the Turner Prize in the arts, and most people have their own feelings regarding many pieces of modern art, music, and theatre, so it’s no real surprise the collection in this anthology is, at best, eclectic.
The book contains 32 works of creative writing. It would be staggering if any reader/reviewer found all the content suited their own tastes.
Poetry, in particular, is a very personal topic, but I did like the three winners. The rest I found okay.
Of the short stories, I found the first prize winner to be a well-written, deep, disturbing, analytical tale I could engage with. The second prize winner was slightly weird, but entertaining. Beyond those two, I was disappointed in texts presented as stories that neither engaged nor impressed me. I wondered what the primary selection panel had found there that I presumably must’ve missed. In fact, a few of them were clearly ‘experimental’ fiction, which, like art, is a very personal experience. I was moved toward the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ arena, to be honest.
The flash fiction, notoriously difficult, produced some very good work in the first three stories, and in one of the other two.
So, a mixed bag for me. I’ve read previous issues of the Bridport Prize anthologies and found them informative, engaging, moving and entertaining. This one was a ‘curate’s egg’ for me.
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]