Walking & Illness – Winning Entry

Throughout May we asked you to submit flash entries around walking and illness. We’re thrilled to announce the well deserved winner, Kriss Nichol! She wins a copy of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing. Find out who won the runners-up prize very soon!

About Kriss

Photo of Kriss Nicholl

Kriss Nichol is a retired teacher with an MA in Creative Writing from Northumbria University. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous small presses, magazines and anthologies, won prizes and been shortlisted in competitions. As a member of Scottish PEN, the Federation of Writers (Scotland), the Scottish Writing Centre and Dove Tales, (Poets for Peace) some of her work has appeared in their publications or on their website. She loves sharing her knowledge and insight with others and runs a writing group in her hometown.

Kriss has self-published three poetry pamphlets: The Language of Crows (2012), Between Lands (2013) and A Suggestion of Bones (2017). She has also published two novels: In Desolate Corners Shadows Crouch (2012) and Monsoons and Marigolds (2017). Her most recent publication, Ancient Anchors, marks an innovative departure for her. It is an extended sequence of poetry and prose in the style of Haibun (a prosimetric literary form originating in Japan which combines prose and Haiku), that charts the story of the relationship between the Earth and all her inhabitants from the Big Bang to modern day. It was released is August 2020.


Silver Linings

How many cattle have been through here? How many hoof prints obliterated on these woodland paths, and what secrets were hidden in the grass? Under my boots are drover’s trails from times gone by when cattle were taken through here to market. Now the paths see only the feet of dog walkers and their pets, or people like me in search of inspiration. I close my eyes and imagine this place in different times, see the hundreds of cattle over hundreds of years being drove by men and their dogs, through the countryside to the markets in Glasgow.

As mist pearls the air, the sky full and heavy, I can smell the rich green breath of grass and trees, remember those first days of spring from not so long ago, when I walked without a stick. When breath came without thought or dizziness, when I didn’t need to find a seat, or toilet, every half hour or so, when my eyesight was sharp enough to find birds on branches, ears clear enough to distinguish them by their song.

But as the body starts to wind down, appreciation of its surroundings increases and time is found to translate experiences into text, experiment with different forms of writing, find gratitude for medical advances and for the joy of still being alive. Seasons pass more quickly now. Autumn will eventually slide into wind-wailing winter when walking is accompanied by hugging warm coats and scarves to my body. 

As twilight seeps across the contours of my garden, bats dip and dive, skilled aerial acrobats that elicit from me astonishment and admiration. I watch until my leg screams at me and I surrender, take myself off to bed. Tired after my exertions of the day, I drift off to sleep. In the hum of night, a new poem about drovers gestates in my head and heart, waiting to birth itself in the new day.


Thank you to everyone that took the time to enter! Details of the next flash theme is below:

Our monthly flash theme for June consists of four themes!

This month, we’re celebrating Volunteer Week, Garden Wildlife Week and Adult Learner’s Week, as well as National Writing Day on June 23rd. Four themes, we hear you cry? Why yes! June is a month with lovely long days leading up to and after the solstice, so think of all those extra daylight hours you’ll have to write a flash submission (or two) for us:

  • Tell us about the creatures you find in your garden or your efforts to turn your outdoor space into a haven for wildlife.
  • Write something about your experience of being a volunteer and the joy you’ve found in volunteer projects.
  • Are you taking a course, doing a degree or training in something new? Tell us what it’s like to be an older adult learner.
  • Or, tell us something about your writing process, if you write regularly.

Entries will be accepted until midnight on June 30th and flash submissions can take the form of a poem, short story or flash memoir. The winning entry will be chosen by the Autumn Voices staff team and the winner will receive a copy of Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence which has been kindly donated by the Little Brown Book Group.

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