Happy Thursday, Offbeaters!
We hope you’ve had a great week, though we at The Offbeat are still a bit hung up on the weekend. That’s right, we’re thinking about The Academy Awards, The Oscars, the most exciting event in Hollywood! So many great stories, so many awards. It got us to thinking that what we’re missing at The Offbeat is our own categorical awards. (Side note: please ignore the fact that we have and continue to run genre writing contests. It’s simply not relevant to this post.) SO, we took a look at the wonderful pieces published in The Offbeat Volume 17 Fall and picked the best of several competitive categories. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourself for the first Offbeat Awards!
To start, we look at a writing tool equally fun and hard to use: alliteration. When done well, alliteration can make one’s tongue feel funny and brain feel fuzzy, and isn’t that the sensation we all read to achieve? The award for Best Alliteration goes to…
“Stephanie’s Soiree” by Heather MacDonald
Stifled in her seventh story suite, she speculated schemes to sanction slipping away to a sociable Saturday soiree.
“Stephanie’s Soiree” spectacularly slips S’s into—okay, clearly this is harder than it looks—into nearly every single word, creating an experience while reading that we can only describe as silly and splendid.
Best Fourth Wall Break
Another tricky element to storytelling is the fourth wall break. Is it charming or annoying when characters acknowledge they’re fictional? We think that with the right balance, it’s perfect. The award for Best Fourth Wall Break goes to…
“When [Box] Met
[I hope this is not another free verse poem.]
Before there were war planes [Oh no!] there was
going down in flames [It is.]
We’ve seen some great fourth wall breaks before, but never so excellently placed within a poem! What’s truly amazing is how attached we became to both [Box] and
Best Use of Color
Most writing isn’t exactly in color, but that doesn’t mean a piece for The Offbeat can’t use it anyway. Sometimes a story is best told in another form of art, one devoid of words and brought to life through a splash of color. The award for Best Use of Color goes to…
“The Cave Painters” by Melissa Hudson
It’s true that “The Cave Painters” is the only piece in the journal in color. However, that doesn’t lessen the beauty of the piece or lessen its accomplishments in this category!
Best Use of Plagiarism
Plagiarism isn’t really respected in the world of writing. But why not? There’s no reason it can’t be utilized to create something great, right? The award for Best Use of Plagiarism goes to…
“The Plagiarism Is All Mine” by Ken Gosse
But I’ll find something old
then I’ll add something new:
For a rainbow that’s borrowed,
off-colors will do.
“The Plagiarism Is All Mine” reveals the truth about plagiarism: it’s an art form, not a crime. There’s really no better place for this kind of experimental art than The Offbeat, and that deserves an award.
Best Editor’s Note
A literary journal is incomplete without an editor’s note. How else will readers know what the editorial team was thinking about while they scrambled to put together a book? The award for Best Editor’s Note goes to…
The editor’s note written by The Offbeat staff
Alayna: Well if you ask me, I think the key to our happiness here really is the fact that we can keep busy. A lot of editing to do. And it never hurts to rework certain pieces…or just retype them. It’s very therapeutic, as you can see.
It was tough to select the best candidate in this category, but we finally had to cave and acknowledge that there is actually only one editor’s note in the journal. This realization made the right decision impossible to deny: The Offbeat’s staff really knows how to put together an editor’s note.
Best Use of the F-Word
Literature is no stranger to curse words. But using these curse words in a way that resonates in the hearts of readers everywhere is a commendable feat. The award for Best Use of the F-Word goes to…
“Fuck” by Tommy Alexander
It was coming in canopies, bursting with melody,
dancing delightfully, drawn down the page.
We’ve all had a moment during a burst of inspiration when we need to drop a swear word or two, and “Fuck” captures that feeling perfectly. It’s tough to beat the esteem of winning in this category.
Best Use of Illegibility
Illegibility is something that usually hinders the effectiveness of writing. How can you read something that’s impossible to decipher? But we at The Offbeat know that illegibility can elevate writing to a new plane of enjoyment. The award for Best Use of Illegibility goes to…
“Kosti’s Lovers” by Richard Kostelanetz
[quote redacted due to illegibility]
A combination of names near impossible to make out, “Kosti’s Lovers” stupefies the reader: does that name say “Cari” or “Carl”? “Ellen” or “Evan”? Maybe we’ll never know.
Best Story About Animal Sex
Sex: the driving force of literature. Would anyone write poetry if it weren’t to woo someone desirable? Would we tell stories if our hearts were never broken? At The Offbeat we don’t just award stories about sex, however. We award stories about panda sex. So the award for Best Story About Animal Sex goes to…
“Heat” by Carolyn Abram
I stay in the dog pose in case she finds it cute or entertaining. I give her the big eyes. I’m irresistibly adorable; just ask those kids who spend all day pointing and cooing at me.
Who knew pandas could have as much trouble mating as your average lonely human? “Heat” taught us more about ourselves than about the animal kingdom, and that’s why it deserves a place in this spot in honor.
Best Poem About a Misunderstood Cephalopod
Without a doubt this was the most competitive category. No one ever quite captures the story of an aquatic creature frustrated by its slot in life the way we at The Offbeat want them to. At least, not until now. The award for Best Poem About a Misunderstood Cephalopod goes to…
“Vampire” by Eliza Ryan
i can kill you
before you even know
i am there
and yet, the name they gave me was
think of the last person you described
it’s not a compliment
Finally. Finally the poem we’ve been waiting for. “Vampire” is funny, sassy, and still captures the hurt in this creature’s soul. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Obviously every piece we publish in The Offbeat is a masterpiece in its own right, but we felt it important to award these pieces as the height of their unique categories. We hope you enjoyed the exposure to some of the zaniest of The Offbeat as much as we enjoyed awarding them.
Congratulations to all the winning pieces, thanks for all these great stories to publish, and stay weird.