The man sat at the back of the rows of chairs doing his best to appear modest and yet sociable at the same time. He had already said hello to the organiser, one of the lecturers he had had for creative writing, and also spoken to a couple of others who he had made acquaintance with on the same course. He was now awaiting the commencement of the actual awards evening.
A little over ten years ago and this particular scenario would no way have featured in his dreams, let alone the fact it was happening now in his waking conscious moments. The evening is only a small affair, an award for the best prose entered in memory of a lecturer from the University; plus an award for the best poem entered which commemorated the sad, early passing of a student from the same university. The poetry competition has been running now for twelve years, whilst the prose competition has run for the last nine. The poetry award was why the man was here. He had come to the university in order to see if he would be able to learn how to write. He had always been the avid bookworm and had often dreamed of how it might be if he was ever able to write a book. The age old adage really, all those people in conversation who say, “I’d love to write a book.” As if it is the easiest thing in the world to do! The one thing the man had learnt over the last three years was that firstly you have to keep up with the reading, reading for writing as they had had drummed into them. Secondly, if you didn’t keep on writing, that being every day, then you pretty much would stand no chance at all of writing anything, let alone a book. He had managed to get into the habit of writing every day now, just that most of it was shit! Still, another lesson they had had was that out of the compost a great bloom would arise one day, so keep scribing. Hence at this point in time he still saw himself primarily as a prose writer. Quite a few of his peers had told him that his poetry, when he ventured to attempt some, was actually pretty decent, especially when he wrote prose poetry. What an exceedingly pleasant shock he received earlier in the week upon checking his university email account, to view one that informed him of being the runner up in the poetry competition. This had made his week, bettered only by the knowledge that he had come second only to his mate from the course, who he jokingly referred to as the poet laureate, on account of his poetry being soooo classy!
The evening began with the head of the project introducing a few of the students to stand at the front as you would do at an “open mic” evening. The first speakers were past students who had left the university and had been lucky enough to be recognised with some published work. A short break ensued after this where the man shot of for a much needed nicotine break and then it was back for the second half. This time there were redings by past and present lecturers reading out some of their own work before moving onto the main event, the prize winners. Regrettably, his mate who had pipped him to the post, unsurprisingly as this made it three years running for the poetry as he was that good, was unable to make it to this years soiree, sending his sincerest apologies instead. That left the man, to go up the front and receive his award and the first acknowledgement of some of his writing, poetry no less! He took his place quite humbly, accepted his award with grace and made his few short sentence introduction. Then he read his runner up, True Americans, in a calm and controlled manner, having had some experience at this from the local Spotlight, a local writer’s evening in the town. He felt quite elated. Last, but not least.