World's worst writing contest draws 14,000 entries

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- From among 14,000 contenders worldwide, this paragraph has been judged the worst writing of the year:

'The lovely woman-child Kaa was mercilessly chained to the cruel post of the warrior-chief Beast, with his barbarian tribe now stacking wood at her nubile feet, when the strong clear voice of the poetic and heroic Handsomas roared, 'Flick your Bic, crisp that chick, and you'll feel my steel through your last meal.''


The paragraph by Steve Garman, the city manager of Pensacola, Fla., took the grand prize Tuesday in an international writing contest that seeks the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. For his efforts, Garman will receive the contest's Creme de Dreck grand prize, a word processor and printer.

English professor Scott Rice of San Jose State University, founder of the 3-year-old competition which this year drew some 14,000 entries, said 'We'd like to think the prize gives new meaning to a phrase popular here in Silicon Valley: 'Garbage in, garbage out.''

Garman brushed off his victory in the annual Bulwer-Lytton compeition as something that was 'really very easy to do. I guess I'm just one of those people who have a gift for bad writing.'


The contest draws its name and inspiration comes from the Victorian era British writer Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton whose novel 'Paul Clifford' began 'It was a dark and stormy night ... '

Asked for advice to would-be terrible writers, Garman said, 'Read Bulwer-Lytton. Ironic as it is, he wrote a book titled, 'The Last Days of Pompeii,' which was just recently made into a television movie. It's something to think about.'

Garman also won a personal appearance on the CBS Morning News.

Entries came from every state of the union and 20 foreign nations.

Second-place in the hotly contested competition went to Georgia State University professor Joseph Parko, who penned:

'Lady's Olivia's heart fluttered within her breast like a tethered bird in a cage as the mysterious stranger bent to kiss her hand, his smoldering dark eyes reflecting the baleful fire of the Ranchipur ruby that tossed like some ill-fated crystalline craft upon the passion-swept crest of her heaving white bosom.''

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