Mary-Jane Holmes - Women's Flash Fiction Competition 2018 winner

Mary-Jane Holmes, ‘Mathematics for girls

‘Winning the Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition was such a boost. Flash is my first love – I teach it, I edit it, I tell everyone I know to read it, but having spent two years working on a poetry collection, I wasn’t sure I could return to it. Moving from one genre to another is strange and yes we can debate the prose poem vis-a-vis flash fiction until the café or bar closes but most writers I think, know of two strong experiences that affect their confidence when it comes to getting something down on paper – you look at what you have written in the past and think “how did I do that?” and then “how will I ever do that again?” The impulse is not to even try but when you do, when you take a risk, it is surprising what can happen.  I wasn’t even going to try but the competition made me think – I have nothing to lose but I have a deadline to keep to. And surprising things do happen.’

MARY-JANE HOLMES is Chief Editor of Fish Publishing Ireland and the Creative Director of Casa Ana Retreats, work which – alongside teaching workshops and preparing for a PhD – means she is always learning about her craft, whilst struggling to find time for it. She won first place in the Bridport Poetry Prize (2017), has been featured twice in Best Small Fictions (Braddock Avenue Books), and her début poetry collection is Heliotrope with Matches and Magnifying Glass (Pindrop Press, 2018).


What did the judge say?

‘”Mathematics for girls” was the story that I simply couldn’t remove from my consciousness. It bursts with tragic urgency and struck to my heart. The writer built her young character from the inside out, rib by rib, with rich emotional observation. We’re shown the consciousness of a child the moment before and the moment after a betrayal occurs, and we realise that her unique way of understanding the world has been profoundly altered. The author accomplishes this with a mastery that left me breathless.’

MEG POKRASS is the author of one award-winning book of prose poetry and five flash fiction collections, including Alligators At Night, which came out last year, and Cellulose Pajamas, which won the Blue Light Book Award in 2016. Her stories and poems have appeared in over 320 literary magazines and many international anthologies, including two Norton anthologies: New Micro (2018) and Flash Fiction International (2015). She is the Editor of New Flash Fiction Review and Co-Editor for the anthology series Best Microfiction, and serves as Festival Curator for the new Flash Fiction Festival UK.


And congratulations to the finalists!

  • Sandra Arnold, ‘The road to nowhere
  • Tara Knudsen, ‘I know death
  • Jennifer Riddalls, ‘Taken


'Just read Ann Abineri's January Flash Card in #LittleMs @Mslexia. #BOOM #Fabulouswriting. Deserves more than £20! #genius'