Judges Report 2015

Penned Thoughts: Judges’ Report


This is the second round of the annual Ali Mehdi Young Writers’ Competition, and the fact that it has caught the imagination of so many young entrants, influenced their thinking, and appealed to their resourcefulness is most gratifying. They were not only following the inspiring example of Ali, but also exploring new horizons in their writing. This, certainly, places a responsibility on the organizers’ shoulders to continue exploring ways of nourishing and advancing the creativity of both Omani youth and young writers residing here.

The organizing committee, judging panel, and editors were very pleased to receive eighty-two entries for the three designated categories – poetry, essay, and short story. Topics ranged from profoundly personal experiences and national concerns to international, social, health, educational and environmental issues. All submissions, whether in prose or verse, were insightful, thought-provoking and engaging.

The poetry was judged by its intrinsic significance, memorable diction, poetic devices, rhythm and meter, originality, emotional intensity, and by how well authors were able to manage the constraints of space. The essays were rated according to the currency of their topics, direction, arguments, focus, rhetorical devices, clarity and style. The short stories were assessed for narrative technique, plot development, characterization, structural development and suspense. Naturally, lexical richness and language proficiency were also given careful attention.

After the panel of judges consisting of Prof. Adrian Roscoe and Drs. Adil Al Khafaji, Chandrika Balasubramanian, Faryal Ahmed, and Susanne R. Shunnaq had evaluated every entry, identified the most promising submissions and shortlisted the truly outstanding ones, the editing process began. Professor Adrian Roscoe and Dr. Susanne R. Shunnaq edited the manuscripts for readability, clarity, coherence and correctness. This is a time-consuming process, requiring knowledge and experience; but, since the selected entries were of good quality, the editors much enjoyed their task.

That only three entries were selected from each category does not mean there were no other good quality submissions received. On the contrary, many pieces in verse and prose reflected potential talent and developing creativity. Expressing oneself emotionally and physically on paper can be a daunting challenge, especially for young aspiring writers. Hence, the judging panel is immensely pleased with the overall quality of this year’s submissions.

Our warmest wishes and congratulations to the winners. All entrants should be very proud of themselves regardless of whether they have won or not. Sadly we cannot give awards to all. We trust that this second round of the Penned Thoughts Competition will kindle increasing interest among our aspiring writers and encourage more of them to participate next year.

Coordinator of the Judging Panel

Susanne R. Shunnaq