Second annual Writing in 150 competition goes virtual amid COVID-19, announces winners

Rick Ventrella of Chesterville performs his top-placing song entry in Saturday's Writing in 150 competition.

CHESTERVILLE — Splendid (or not so splendid) isolation couldn’t stop the creative impulse on Saturday, as local wordsmiths and songwriters forged ahead with the second annual Writing in 150 competition — in virtual form.

As the authorities ratcheted up measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks, organizer Amanda Burger switched the event to an exclusively online affair, but still under the auspices of her charitable arts endeavour, A Bunch of People (ABOP).

The ‘150’ refers to the number of minutes that each participant had to pound out a written work — choosing from several categories, each with its own assigned theme — during this year’s competition. The competitors and judges all did their part from home, submitting and accessing the material online. To help the competitors feel connected, they were invited to stream a short message on how they were feeling about the competition via Facebook.

Murray Barkley, Tom Schoch, Suzanne Millaire, Cindy Edwards, Rachel Eves and Cory M Coons were tapped to judge the entries.

A drum roll, please, the announced winners were:

Fiction – Theme WANDER
1st Jen Pretty

2nd Lis Angus (tied)
Taylor White (tied)

3rd Paul Stockton (tied)
Sima Craig (tied)

Poetry – Theme SUPPRESSION
1st Brian Talmey

2nd Daphne Evans

3rd Joanna Ventrella

Short Play – Theme RELINQUISH
1st Sandra McNeil

2nd Guy Newsham

Song – Theme WEIGHT
1st Rick Ventrella

2nd Tony Glen

Spoken Word – Theme RENEWAL
1st Dan Riitano

2nd Amanda Million

Non-Fiction – Theme Origins
1st Jacqueline Toupin

2nd Patrick Burger

The success of this online competition has made ABOP organizers even more aware of the need for diversion during this time because “a little artistic diversion always feels good.” So they’ve launched a new event for aspiring animators; under the banner of ‘Pandemic Fun — Art For Bored People Only,’ you’re invited to make a short stop motion film. Entrants need only a computer, the free Movie Maker app (or any other video editing software) and a camera (or use the one on your phone). All movies are to be posted to Facebook and the public will choose their favourite.

Ten percent of all ABOP profits go to local charities.

Below, Tony Glen, performs his second-place finishing song in the 2020 Writing in 150 competition.

Writing participant Jen Pretty offers her thoughts on the process, below.

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