Grunt – 07 August 2014


There’s a problem with corruption in this country. That is a truism and a cliché. But you tend not to expect it to creep into the airy realms of the literary world. But it does. Let me give you a few examples.
In a prose-writing competition for individuals under a certain age, at least one competitor was some seven or eight years over the age limit. Of course, things seemed to be going swimmingly for the writer until the organisers asked for certified copies of identity documents. And there are poetry-writing competitions aplenty, all with rules that have to be adhered to. One of the ubiquitous rules is anonymity. That’s so the judges can evaluate the poems on their literary merit rather than the name or social status of the poet. But some individuals presume that those rules apply to everyone else but not them. All sorts of bizarre trickery occur in efforts to circumvent the issue of anonymity. In one instance, the poet’s father wrote to the organisers, providing them with the name, address, and bank details of the competitor. In the process, the father instructed the organisers to award his offspring the first prize immediately as they needed the prize money – a very modest sum – to take a vacation!
Years ago, a lecturer got himself appointed as a publisher’s academic and creative editor. Then, when a competition happened, with the usual anonymity rule, and a second rule that only publisher’s editors could submit entries, he sent in their own work anonymously. Unfortunately, this time the judges were duped; the lecturer won.
In Australia, two writers perpetrated the Ern Malley hoax in 1943. They created the fictitious Malley and all his poems in one day. Although they are acknowledged as a hoax, the poems are now considered successful examples of surrealist poetry! And there’s debate about who wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Christopher Marlowe and Francis Bacon are among the major contenders, although an eleventh-century Arab writer has also been suggested. Perhaps Shakespeare actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Perish the thought.
However, I’m the one-and-only writer of Grunt. Trust me.