Bulwer Purple Prose Literary Awards
The Bulwer Community Centre was full to cracking Saturday evening with 99 people. They were laughing. It was the awards supper of the Bulwer Purple Prose Project, and the grand winner of the Grand Pittance was Jerome Krause of Ayer’s Cliff.
The Grand Pittance was a two-inch wooden trophy sporting a shiny penny bearing the likeness of Elisabeth II. The trophies were created by Dick Tracy of Lennoxville.
Pennies are now collector’s items, noted the Master of Ceremonies, Ross Murray of Stanstead.
The truest hue of Purple Prose that earned Krause the trophy goes like this:
“Be I a madman, a murderer, or both, I am not unrepentant ere the task be done – set aside any discourse vis-à-vis my diffident want of his pillowy strumpet (an unfruitful, false adventure, alas, and it holds no sway in this enterprise) – but the man is salacious in his dissipated hungers and I shall without indecision kill him.”
In other words, “I wanna kill him!”
“I had an unfair advantage,” said Krause in his acceptance speech. “I own the entire set of BulwerLytton’s works!”
Bulwer-Lytton made a fortune in the 1800s, writing penny novels. He is known for his purple prose – convoluted, flowery sentences. But he also coined many pithy sayings that we still use today, such as “It was a dark and stormy night.” “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Or “the almighty dollar.”
The village of Bulwer was named for him after he came through by train, and stopped to speak to some residents. He was England’s secretary of the colonies.
The Bulwer Purple Prose Project invited participants to submit the first sentence of the worst novel ever. In addition to the grand prizewinner, a panel of three judges selected winners in six categories. They reviewed the 70 entries that were posted anonymously at http://bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com/. When the winners were identified, it was discovered that several people had made a number of entries, and had won more than one prize.
Mead Baldwin of Way’s Mills took first pittance in the Romance category, with Jerome Krause in second place.
David Smith of Ottawa won the Local History award.
Jerome Krause won in the Crime/Mystery category, with same sentence that earned him the Grand Pittance. For Crime/Mystery, Susan Mastine of Kingsey Falls took second place, and Annie Duriez of Sherbrooke, third place.
Here’s Mastine’s anti-masterpiece:
“Writing an obituary—an unedited, never-to-be-published, spicy version that includes not particularly the deceased person’s lifetime claims to fame but his or her misbehaviours, those mistakes that can never be retracted, that appear long buried and forgotten but… that abruptly and unbiddingly resurface, nay haunt one, at the most unexpected moments—can be such a lark.”
Annie Duriez of Sherbrooke won the Fanstasy category. Jerome Krause and Mead Baldwin were first and second, respectively, in the Legend category. And Joyce Booth of Sherbrooke won the Adventure category, with Mead Baldwin and Annie Duriez in second and third place.
The audience howled with laughter as the winning sentences were read out and emcee Ross Murray commented on them.
That was after music by the five-man Mostly Swing, and before music by the bass and fiddle duet of Bulwerians Janice LaDuke and Dave Gillis. It was between a 10-dish turkey feast and an array of delectable desserts.
Peggy Grapes headed the team of Bulwer Community Centre members who prepared the supper. Peggy Roy headed ticket sales, decorations, and provided old-timey costumes for volunteers. To hearty applause, Murray read the names of 30 volunteers who worked on this project. The last name was “the spirit of Lord Bulwer-Lytton, whose pen was mightier than his letter opener.”
The project was a fund-raiser for the Bulwer Community Centre. Its president, Yvon Roy, said the supper raised $1,200 for the Centre.
The winning sentences can be read online at http:// bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com/. Plans are already underway for next year’s edition of the Bulwer Purple Prose Project. The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2014. For information, contact BulwerPPP@gmail.com.
From empty to full, the plates move down the row of 10 serving dishes, from turkey to turnips to trimmings. At right, Ghislain Bolduc, MNA for the Mégantic riding, adds some cranberry sauce to his plate.
Bulwer Purple Prose winners Susan Mastine, Jerome Krause, Joyce Booth and Mead Baldwin relish the rewards of their laborious writing, in the company of the evening’s master of ceremonies, Ross Murray (right).