Travel Writing Competition Winner Revealed for 2013

by Jules on December 13, 2013

So the votes have been counted and our judge Jeremy Lazell has given his verdict on the winner of our annual Travel Writing Competition 2013.

Jeremy Lazell says…

“The journey is the thing,” wrote Homer, and although he probably wasn’t thinking Ryanair from Glasgow Prestwick to Stansted, the truth still holds: it’s not always the Taj Mahal that blows you away, sometimes it’s the rickshaw taking there. What I loved about all three finalists is that they haven’t just grasped this essential truth: they’ve squeezed it till it sings.

All three finalists concentrate on small, apparently insignificant moments on the road. For D J Jennings, it’s a testing train ride from Turpan to Kashgar; for E Baldauf, it is a night bus to Hampi.  What impresses in both pieces is the way the writers celebrate these journeys in all their awfulness and wonder. They don’t just dismiss them, as we all so often do: they embrace and explore them. I particularly enjoyed E Baldauf’s use of quotes, which give his piece, Chaos and Karma, a tangible vividness.

However, the piece that impressed me most was Once Bitten, by Suzy Pope. Describing a brief moment on the Trans-Siberian Express, the piece paints a wonderfully vivid scene, opening with a conversation with a fellow passenger that transports the reader straight into the scene. “Looking out at the expanse of Siberia,” S Pope then vividly notes, “It was as if someone was playing the same dirty film reel over and over.” It’s not easy to paint a picture with such simple prose, but from the very first, S Pope achieves it with ease, drawing the reader right into that carriage beside him.

There’s a refreshingly affectionate humour shot through Once Bitten, as well. I particularly enjoyed the image of the grunting, waddling guard, “wearing nothing but her thermal underwear and a deep scowl”, likewise the image of the writer himself, holding out his frost-bitten fingers “like a child with a paper-cut.” But these aren’t gratuitous gags, they are wonderfully descriptive moments, too, forming images that take us straight onto that train ourselves. An excellent piece by a talented writer, it is a deserving winner.

Suzy Pope says…

“This is amazing! Not just the prize, but the fact that someone picked my writing as a winner. I’m going to spend it all on holidays.

Thanks again – you have completely cheered up this dark and cold time of year.”

Read the winning entry here

PureTravel says…

Huge congratulations to Suzy Pope and we hope she has great fun planning her next travel adventure! The winning piece will be in print in Geographical magazine in the New Year.

And thanks again to all who entered this year’s competition – again the standard was high and we had tremendous fun poring over all the entries.

And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for our Travel Writing Competition 2014 – we’ll announce details soon via our main competition page, our blog, our Facebook page and Twitter feed…

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