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Judges Report

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Judges Report 2016

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Penned Thoughts: Judges’ Report

This year’s writing competition was the third cycle of the national Ali Mehdi annual writing competition for talented youth in Oman.  The 2016 Penned Thoughts competition allowed more age categories to participate than in the previous cycles in an attempt to represent not only older youth but also the younger gifted children across the country. It was delightful to see that contestants as young as eight years performed at remarkably high levels.  Participants had the opportunity to choose among three categories: The essay, the short story, and the poem.  The panel of judges received all ninety-six entries; 36 poems, 42 short stories, and 18 essays.Entries were written beautifully and skillfully and included among others personal narratives, and reflective essays, historical fiction, riddle poetry.  Submissions revealed a profound understanding of people’s psychology, an appreciation of humanity, a celebration of human strength and resilience, and acute introspectiveness. This made judging process a particularly hard but highly interesting and rewarding task. A number of entrants stood out for their originality, creativity, and craft which they displayed in their writing. What impressed us most about the entries to this year’s competition was the great variety of tone, form, and subject matter.

The panel of judges for the 2016 Penned Thoughts young writers’ competition consisted of faculty and scholars whose specialized knowledge of language and literature constituted a valuable asset for the distinguished panel. Their diverse backgrounds and multi-faceted contributions as scholars, teachers, administrators, translators, volunteers, and mentors are truly noteworthy. Prof. Adrian Roscoe and Dr. Adil Al Khafaji, Chandrika Balasubramanian, Faryal Ahmed and Susanne R. Shunnaq had the pleasure to participate in the evaluation process of the entries.  After the careful reading and analysis of all manuscripts, the judges discussed which entries should be shortlisted. They evaluated the entries not just for their content, style, language, thought development, writing techniques, vocabulary repertoire, creativity, and originality, but also for their compliance with the contest rules.  Afterwards, a carefully developed criterion for selection was applied and the finalists were chosen. Lastly, Professor Roscoe and Dr. Shunnaq edited and proofread the winning entries for publication.

The panel of judges was asked to identify three winners from each category in addition to a fourth promising submission. The many good quality submissions made the final decision on the actual winners not an easy task.  We would like to emphasize here that there were many attention-grabbing, witty, and original entries, but only a few truly stood out.

In conclusion, we would like to thank everyone who entered the competition and congratulate the winners.  We hope that the continuation of the annual Ali Mehdi competition will encourage more talents to come forward and participate next year.


Summary of Results

Poems

Rank

Name

Entry Title

1.

 

“The Climb to Nagarkot”

2.

 

“In the Kitchen”                     

3.

 

“Differences”

4.

 

“Riddle Poem”

 

Essays

Rank

Name

Entry Title

1.

 

“A Call for Change”

2.

 

“The Good, the Bad, and the Balance”

3.

 

“Music is the Panacea for All Woes”

4.

 

“Discovering the Hero Within Myself”

 

Short Stories

Rank

Name

Entry Title

1.

 

“A x T” 

2.

 

“Timing”

3.

 

“Case RS 75”

4.

 

“The Insect Controller”

 

 

Coordinator of the Judging Panel

Susanne R. Shunnaq