We've had a lookover the eighty or so essays sent to us for the 2007 Lantern Essay Competition
, and, as last year, we've been struck by a number of things.
First off, it's amazing how international these essays are. Contributors have come from China, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Ghana, England, Ireland, Israel, and other places. We at Lantern want to express our appreciation to all those for whom English was not a first language: we know this competition poses extra challenges for you, and we honor your commitment and effort.
Secondly, while many of you kept within the word-limit (1500 words) and dealt with one of the three topics/questions that we presented for the competition, some of you didn't—either running way
too long or just writing on anything that took your fancy. Now, I don't care if you're a brilliant essayist, with thoughtful and penetrating insights, if you don't keep within the word-limit and don't follow the rules of the competition, then you're not going to place, let alone win. It's unfair to those who've contained their brilliance within the strictures of the competition.
Thirdly, while some of your essays were very personal, they lacked the larger message that would make them relevant to a broader audience. Conversely, some people wrote abstract tracts that didn't have the personal touch that turns a screed into an essay.
So what happens now? We've winnowed down the essays to about 40 ones that will go onto the next stage of judging. Watch this space!