Black Violin Challenge – 2/4: “Piotr and the Company of Wolves”

The Black Violin Challenge – 2/4: “PIOTR AND THE COMPANY OF WOLVES”

Deadline For Entries: 30th September 2020


Background to the Project:

Over the course of a year-or-so, there will be a series of challenges that will hopefully see us build a collaborative story centred upon a Black Violin.

The Black Violin will end-up being published as a book of 40 poems.

This is the second part of the Challenge.

You can download the First Chapter:  The Black Violin - DRAFT - Chapter One of Four (87 downloads)

Those of you that have been in the Cult from the start may remember my ‘aborted’ flight of fancy that aimed for us all to collaborate on a Poetry Novel – ‘The Poetry House’. In many ways, this is a similar idea but on a smaller scale – a poetry novella, perhaps.

To do this, we will use four Challenges with the book containing the finished story to be released  in the near future.

The key idea of the writing is that I am asking you to write poems that work as witness reports. In many ways the core story is the least important aspect – it is more how you describe what you see rather than what it is that is happening – the writing rather than the tale.

It has always fascinated me that ten people can see the same event and notice/focus on completely different details, and I am hoping that this is what will happen here – even though the details will largely be coming from your imagination.

Each of the four challenges will work in the same way:

  1. I will give you a very rough and scant-of-detail description of an event
  2. You must imagine yourself to be present, although as a witness, NOT one of those actively involved
  3. You must imagine and then write a poem of up to forty lines that gives your interpretation of what has occurred from your perspective.  These can describe everything I tell you and more, or concentrate on one minor part – you decide.
  4. You, as the witness, can be anybody or thing, you can talk about yourself if that helps too. (i.e. You could be a bird as easily as a butcher, you could be seeing the scene in a TV advert or hearing a child telling the tale in the words of a nursery rhyme.)
  5. These descriptions can be painted with a broad brush or focus on minuscule details – a description of a butterfly passing in the foreground is as valid as a chronological description of the events that were happening behind.
  6. Your forty lines may be used in many ways – a series of haiku would be as valid as a concrete poem or the redaction of a newspaper report. You decide.
  7. Supporting notes for your poem can be printed alongside it on a facing page  – if you choose, these too can form part of your narrative, if you so wish.
  8. At the end of each of the challenges, I will choose Ten of the poems that as a group work best in describing differing perspectives of the events.
  9. The Ten poems from January’s Challenge will be available and form part of September’s Challenge, and so on. i.e. They will provide part of the trigger for the later events.

The Story So Far:

1/4: “PIOTR FINDS THE BLACK VIOLIN” –  Download and Read Here:

The Black Violin - DRAFT - Chapter One of Four (87 downloads)

The Challenge 2/4:

“Piotr trudging through the forest, nervously feeling the breath of the company of wolves, the pack slowly beginning to surround him.

Scared, he starts to climb a tree even whilst knowing that the wolves will surround it and at some point he will have a choice between running or freezing.

Sat in the tree he begins to play the Black Violin, rainbow flames seem to climb from his fingers, tendrils of calm, strange ancient music flows across the forest, the pack sleeps and Piotr climbs down and drifts away into the night.”

Describe the scene, or part of it, in the form of a poem of forty lines or less. Supporting notes can be published alongside your poem on a facing page.

Email it to:

The Prize:

  1. The Forty poems chosen for The Black Violin will all appear in a book to be (hopefully) published by the end of the year.
  2. Everybody appearing in it will receive author copies
  3. Ideally I would like it to be performed in 2021 at an event or if geography proves too much of an issue, perhaps we could record each of the contributors reading their work and doing something clever with ‘Media.’  Perhaps both, if it turns out well.

I’m pleased to announce that the Ten Poems Selected for the first chapter of ‘The Black Violin’ are from:

  1. Andrew Strickland
  2. Anna Teresa Slater
  3. Callum A Stewart
  4. Gaynor Kane
  5. Penny Hope
  6. Raine Geoghegan
  7. Simon Williams
  8. Patricia M Osborne
  9. Valerie Bence
  10. Vic Pickup


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