At some point in my teenage years - I can't say when, I'm an unreliable narrator - my mother took me aside and told me something along the lines of, "You know, I have some friends who are lesbians. And if you turn out to be a lesbian, you should know that it'll be difficult for you but I'll support you all the way." Now my daughter keeps starting writing novels, which is perhaps a little precocious, but I think I know how my mother must have felt. So I thought I'd take my daughter along to the Open Mike to give her a taste of what might await her, should she ever finish one of her manuscripts and get good enough to be invited to take part. Perhaps as a warning. Only we arrived right at the least eventful moment, the break between the last lot of readings and the awards announcement, and then we had to leave before anything happened. And I only got to show her off to two people. Pretty dumb really.
I did, however, buy the book. And read three of the prose texts while we were waiting for something to happen. One of which was co-winner Sandra Gugic's tantalising piece about a woman who goes flat-hopping and subsumes herself into other people's lives while they're away, a thoroughly modern story in a good way. I hope that's not all there is of it. The other prose winner I didn't read then but have now: Juan S. Guse with a totally scary text full of barking dogs and fear. The poetry winner is Martin Piekar and the audience prize went to Joey Juschka.
These are names to watch, obviously, but it's interesting that none of them are exactly newbies. My buddy Nikola Richter addresses the issue of ways to get a foot in the door a little bit here, and the friend I met today said she thinks the competition might be becoming less of a shoe-in than it once was - she'd got the feeling there were fewer editors there on the lookout for new talent than usual. Perhaps that just means their budgets are stretched, or maybe the creative writing courses are doing too good a job.
All of which is speculation pure and simple, and should not diminish our congratulations to the winners and the takers-part.