Updated: Dec 27, 2022
By Annie Newcomer:
Given the opportunity to highlight Naomi Shahib Nye, the 2019–2022 U.S. Poet Laureate for YOUTH earlier this month in our Flapper Press Poetry Café and learning the importance of guiding and listening to young poets, we poetry editors at FP are on the lookout for the work of talented Youth writers to sprinkle into our poetry café throughout the next year.
In one gem of a publication, Press 53/Prime Number Magazine, we discovered a piece of writing by Jordan Hua that we so enjoyed and believe our readers will appreciate as well.
With the permission of Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher & Editor in Chief of Press 53/Prime Number Magazine, as well as Jordan Hua and her parents, we are able to reprint her work which won the publication's free monthly contest this past October.
In addition to the reprint, we've provided information about how you can submit to the contest yourself.
What does it mean to write "tight," and why is this skill so essential to a writer and poet?
In December 2021, I taught a class on 53-Word Story Writing at Turning Point, a Center for Health and Healing in Kansas City. I was a little concerned because my goal with the numerous classes I taught and developed at Turning Point was always to make writing seem "super fun," and create a vehicle of relaxation for the participants. How would such an exacting skill limiting one's words by cutting the fat not stress anyone out? I need not have worried. This was one of my most popular classes.
In one of our many exercises that day, I passed out sheets with stories of 87 words and asked the class to pare the piece down to only 53 words, duplicating the rules in the contest. After doing so, students read their piece. What startled us all was that each edited piece sounded somehow quite different. How amazing, because we had only eliminated 34 words and all used the same story. Still, even with such a slight change on such a short piece, all the work sounded "different." I think this demonstrated to the class that editing is critical to fine writing and how we tighten our work, be it a short story, essay, or poem, truly reflects our essence as a writer/poet. Indeed, I have heard many poets confide that "editing" their poetry is the most rewarding part of the process.
In concluding this discussion on tight writing, I suggest reading Anne R. Allen's Blog … with Ruth Harris (August 2, 2020) for some great tips to improve your skills in this area. For example, on the blog you will find this great advice: "As copywriter and marketing strategist Roy Furr says: 'When you put too much puffery into your writing, you're hiding the great thinking.' In other words, when you write tight, readers easily recognize the substance and truth of your work. Tight writing isn't using fewer words. It's choosing perfect words."
And now for a reprint of the Oct 2022 article from Prime Number Magazine. Jordan Hua's short-short story breaks the age barrier because it is obvious that no matter the age of the author, this is a piece of fine writing. Congratulations, Jordan.
October 2022 Winner of the 53-Word Story Contest: Jordan Hua!
Prompt for the October 53-Word Story: The remarkable pumpkin is not only both gourd and squash, but also, technically, a fruit. We celebrate the gourd with decorations on stoops and kitchen tables. We dress up the squash with nutmeg, pie crust, and whipped cream. The fruit owes to the seeds, often found steaming in the oven awaiting coarse salt.
Write a 53-word story about potential.
by Jordan Hua
Resting precariously on the dryer of my laundry room, next to the heater. In a few hours it could completely transform. Change in form, texture, taste. Rise dramatically like a balloon. Turn golden, flour dusted, soft, airy, and slightly astringent. It could, couldn't it? It said four teaspoons, not tablespoons, right? Hold on—
Visit Press 53/Prime Number Magazine to read more about the contest and the stories of past winners. Here is the basic contest information:
FREE Monthly 53-Word Story Contest
It's free, it's fun; the winner gets published in Prime Number Magazine and receives a free book from Press 53. Be sure to subscribe to our email updates for free. You’ll receive an email on the first day of each month with our winning story and the prompt for our next contest. Open to writers around the world who write in English.
Open for entries the first day of each month!
DEADLINE: 15TH DAY OF EACH MONTH
Winner will be announced on the first day of each month along with our new prompt.
Email your 53-word story to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 15th day of the month.
Annie Klier Newcomer founded a not-for-profit, Kansas City Spirit , that served children in metropolitan Kansas for a decade. Annie volunteers in chess and poetry after-school programs in Kansas City, Missouri. She and her husband, David, and the staff of the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens are working to develop The Emily Dickinson Garden in hopes of bringing art and poetry educational programs to their community.
Annie helms the Flapper Press Poetry Café—dedicated to celebrating poets from around the world and to encouraging everyone to both read and write poetry!
Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.
1. Share at least three (3) poems
2. Include a short bio of 50–100 words, written in the third person.
(Plus any website and links.)
3. Share a brief backstory on each submitted poem
4. Submit an Author's photo and any images you want to include with the poems
5. Send all submissions and questions to: email@example.com