There’s a grandiloquent pageant of extravagance this week, as readers were invited to submit purple prose, including the opening to The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde: The studio was filled with the rich odour of …
K Fleming of Epsom writes: The studio was filled with the rich odour of frangipanis in fecund and roseate blossom. The sound of soaring gulls in garrulous full throat provided an orchestral soundtrack to the scene unfolding in the lofty turret, set precariously into the sheer and sweating cliffs. The old master, an ascetic at his oils, peered lugubriously at the chrysalid canvas before him.
From Queenstown’s Amanda Robinson: The studio was filled with the rich odour of langoustines. Sweet plumes of swashbuckling steam puffed from the pot, snapping at my olfactory nerves. Teasing. Tantalising. He hovered nervously over the canvas, sable brush grasped in one sweaty paw, pot lid clasped in the other. “More!” I demanded as he furiously fanned the lid, daubing paint energetically. Ah, blissful bouillabaisse.
But the Bay of Plenty’s David Wort is the winner: The studio was filled with the rich odour of Brilliantine, and the opulent musk of his Gras Chat aftershave hung in the breathless air like an invisible mist. Silken-fingered cosmeticians with rare unguents had charmed away rough years spent in the wilderness. Against the soft flattery of studio lighting, the kingmaker’s smile shone like a thousand suns.
For the next contest, send a brief poem including these words from Funnel by Anne Sexton: “The family story tells …” Rhyming is optional. Entries close at noon on November 9.
Submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org or Wordsworth, NZ Listener, Private Bag 92512, Wellesley St, Auckland 1141. Please include your address.
Copies of The Language of Thorns, a compelling novel about race, identity, family and secrets, by Leigh Bardugo (Hachette, $34.99), and Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach (Hachette, $37.99).