Volunteer/Garden/Writing – Winning Entry

Throughout June we asked you to submit flash entries on a variety of topics, volunteering, garden wildlife, or writing. We’re thrilled to announce the well deserved winner, Tom Langlands! He wins a copy of The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, courtesy of Corsair Publishing. He submitted two entries and we feel like they both deserve to be seen. He has also very kindly provided a reading of his poems which you can listen to below.

Mother Cecilia

They assembled
every day at dawn,
ears pointed high
like hands in prayer
held to the sky.
Nature’s steeples,
twitching for some bunny god
to sanctify with proclamation,
bless the gathered congregation 
and offer mass
with blades
of purest, dew-stained grass
from virgin lawn.

That summer
as steamy days hopped by,
their faith grew strong
evidenced
by the growing throng.
The lush, green carpet
spread prostrate under firmament,
a breeding ground for high salvation
where earthly genesis of procreation
laid bare
the souls
of all who came and worshipped there
in fornication.

She stood
apart in halo light,
a superior rabbit
clad ears to tail 
in nature’s habit.
A celibate mother 
watching over ragtail brood
until one day she was not there,
perhaps ascended into thin air
but inter alia
I surmised
Mother Cecilia
had joined a bunnery.

Why Do I Write?

I owe it to the line maker in the Blombos Cave, South Africa
to the hashtag engraver of Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar
to the zigzag scratcher of a shell by Solo River, Java
they were the first scribes 
the markers standing at the dawn of sentient thought
they were in the beginning  
before the word was born

I owe it to the cave painters of Lascaux, France
who captured the spirit of horses and stags 
and the thunderous charge of running bulls
to the Cave of Swimmers in the mountains of the Sahara
to the gods and the festivals of the ancient Balkans 
adorning the walls of Magura, Bulgaria
to those who left their timeless handprints
waving across the millennia
in Cueva de las Manos, Argentina
they were the storytellers, the capturers of moments, 
the creators of myths and legends
authors without words

I owe it to the proto writers scattered across the Earth
to the sign-makers, the curators of meaning
to the unknown phonologists
to the precursors of inscribed Chinese oracle bones,
Sumerian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs
to the joiners of lines, the creators of letters,
the founders of alphabets
to the connectors of symbols and sounds
to the constructors of language

I owe it to the thinkers, the philosophers, 
the linguists, the communicators
to all the great civilizations of Earth
to every author who has ever written
to every book penned
to every poem read and every song sung
to every message sent in a bottle, 
fixed to a landing craft on the moon
or attached to a spaceship 
hurtling beyond our solar system

I write because it excites me
I write because I can
I write because there was a time when we could not
I write because I owe it to those who have made it possible

About Tom

Tom Langlands was born in Dundee, Scotland. He graduated with a B.Sc. in Architecture and a B.Arch (Hons) from Dundee University and an M.Arch – in architectural semiotics – from Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. In parallel with his academic studies, he developed a serious interest in writing, photography and philosophy. These skills have merged to create a desire to understand and explore how we perceive the world we live in.

Having retired in 2013 from the architectural practice he co-founded in 1988, Tom now spends his time writing and taking photographs. He is a regular photojournalist contributor to the North American magazine Celtic Life International and his work has appeared in numerous publications at home and abroad.

Tom’s images have received commendations and awards in the British Wildlife Photography Awards and the Scottish Nature Photography Awards and have been exhibited at the Scottish International Salon of Photography and the Edinburgh International Exhibition of Photography. He has also held several solo photography exhibitions. His poetry has appeared in print and online in Southlight, The Writers’ Cafe Magazine and The Blue Nib. He often uses his photography as inspiration for his writing.

You can also find Tom on Facebook.


Our monthly flash theme for July is the water!

It’s July! You’re probably wondering where summer is as we’ve not had very much of it so far, but we’re staying optimistic and thinking about some of the creative opportunities (and perils!) of the season.

This month, we’ve turned our thoughts to beaches, water activities, and life on (or in, or near) the ocean waves. We have some content coming up on our website this month from people who have strong relationships with waterways and the sea, and we’d love to hear from you too in our monthly flash competition. If you’re aged 60+ and a sailor, watersports devotee, keen swimmer, gongoozler, beachcomber or marine life enthusiast, send us your flash entries on those subjects!

If you’re a seascape painter or photographer, send us an image of your paintings and we’ll put them on the Autumn Voices website.

We also have romance on our minds, so we’d also welcome flash entries on the subject of love and romance in later life!

Entries will be accepted until midnight on July 31st, and can take the form of a poem, short story or flash memoir as well as photographs and other images, where asked for. You can also accompany text entries with images. The winning entry will be chosen by the Autumn Voices staff team, and the winner will receive a copy of Argonauts of the Scottish Isles by Robin Lloyd-Jones.

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