Press Releases & Published Articles

Purple in Bulwer

By Rachel Garber, for the Sherbrooke Record

Bulwer, February 26, 2015. It’s almost March. In the hamlet of Bulwer, winter reluctantly prepares to retire its icy whiteness, driven out by the purple of flowery prose. Yes, the third annual Bulwer Purple Prose Project is springing up under the guiding hand of Mead Baldwin. It’s as purple as ever, but with a surprise twist this year.

What has not changed: This is a quirky little literary contest that aims to celebrate and support the Bulwer hamlet and its Community Centre, while supporting the flowering of the English language in its most florid hues. Wretched writers are invited to submit the first sentence of the worst novel ever. Accomplished authors who just want to pull out all the stops for once are invited to join in the fun, too. The deadline for submissions is midnight April 18.

It is said that Bulwer was named after the 19th century master of purple prose, penny novelist Lord Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton. “Even his name needed an editor,” noted Ross Murray. He emceed the awards supper in the first two years of the contest.

Bulwer was originally called Williams Corner. A railroad ran through it, and it was a bustling trade centre. At a certain point – maybe before or after the train tracks arrived – oral history has it that Lord Bulwer-Lytton set foot in the hamlet. He was the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, and a famous writer, too. And at a certain other point, a post office arrived in town too. It was named Bulwer in his honour.

It is quite likely that all this indeed happened, although the dates are questionable. Lord Bulwer-Lytton and his family had a special connection to Quebec. Proof is found in the Post Office Directory of Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk, written in 1875 by E.R. Kelly. It says the Lord’s nephew, Sir Edward Earle Gascoyne Bulwer, spent a few years in Canada in the 1850s. He was a lieutenant in the 23rd royal Welsh fusiliers.

In Norfolk, England, the home of Sir Edward’s father – Lord Bulwer-Lytton’s brother – was named Quebec House. “It is Gothic, and it derives its name from having been built at the time of the capture of Quebec,” wrote Kelly.

But the Bulwer family line goes back all the way back to another conquest – the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century. Yes, Bulwer is a Normandy name, says Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, written in 1875. Normandy is in France. What goes around comes around, as they say.

The Bulwer Purple Prose Project invites submissions in six different categories: Adventure, Crime/Mystery, Fantasy, Legends, Local History, and Romance. Writers may submit up to two entries in each category.

The short-and-sweet rules are found at www.bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com. The “www” stands for “Wretched writers welcome,” of course. They are welcome to send their perfectly awful purple offerings to BulwerPPP@gmail.com. The website also offers inspiration. Winning sentences from previous years are posted, and a few examples of purple prose from well-known Townships writers.

Grand Pittances will be awarded to the winning writers at a festive country supper on Saturday, May 2, at 6 p.m. That’s at the historic Bulwer Community Centre, to be sure, and the meal is being prepared by the Centre’s team of volunteer chefs.

Writer Mead Baldwin of Waterville is tight-lipped about what will be new this year.  He chairs the organizing committee. About the awards supper, he says, “There’ll be a big surprise. Some dramatic quirks, some stories from the past. But I think that’s all we should say.”

“And I just find that my favourite part is when the individuals stand up and read their prose,” he added. “Ordinary people from the Townships, and they read a silly line of prose. How often in public settings do we have people reading out loud?”

And in English. In Bulwer.

This isn’t the first writing-for-fun project that Baldwin has been mixed up in. He’s known for his murder mystery suppers in the North Hatley and surrounding area, and has been involved in writers’ workshops since he moved back to the Townships in 2009. “I love writing,” he said. “Any chance to share about words, the joy of writing, I like that. Basically, I find there’s a passion about writing. Even silly writing connects us.”

He gave mentioned some places where people who love words gather. Black Cat Books in Lennoxville, and libraries. “The more we inspire writing, the better,” he said.

Speaking of inspiration, here is a famous first sentence. It’s by Lord Bulwer-Lytton himself, and it opens his novel Paul Clifford.

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

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Bulwer Purple Prose Awards Supper

Jackie Hyman Wins the Grand Pittance

Bulwer, April 2, 2014. It was a middling dark and soon-to-be stormy night, last Saturday evening at the Bulwer Community Centre. It was the Bulwer Purple Prose Awards Supper. And emcee Ross Murray set the stage with some Townships-soaked purple prose of his own.

“We are here tonight to put the bull back in Bulwer. Maybe you’re not Sherbrooke why you came or maybe you think this contest doesn’t have a leg to Stanstead on. Maybe you’re grumpy because you got your Ascot in the door coming here tonight. But whether your goose is Coaticooked or you’re Compton your chickens before they hatched, or if you don’t Knowlton whether you’re coming or going, whether you’re a poor man or a Richmond, don’t come here tonight thinking, “Magog, what have I done,” because I promise every child, woman and Mansonville, that while you’re Eaton your dinner, we’re going to do Asbestos we can tonight to have a wonderful time before the evening is Dunham. And if not? Waterloo going to do about it?”

The crowd roared and clapped.

It was a smaller crowd than last year, just 63. Some storm-sky souls didn’t show up, said Peggy Roy, worried about the huge snowstorm slated to begin later that night. But still, the benefit event for the Bulwer Community Centre brought in about $1300. “We’re happy to do it. It brought in a different crowd. We were pleased,” she said. “The people that came enjoyed themselves.”

The music wowed them. The five-man Mostly Swing group. And the Bulwerian bass and fiddle duo, Janice LaDuke and Dave Gillis.

The spread was hearty, starring beef, pork, vegetarian “meat” loaf, an array of cheeses, breads, vegetables, salads, and scrumptious desserts. All prepared by Peggy Grapes and her Bulwer Committee.

And then the awards. Jackie Hyman of Sawyerville won the Grand Pittance for overall best first sentence to the worst novel ever. She also took first prize in the Local History category. And here is the winning sentence, semi-colon and all:

“Exhausted and disheartened, his heavy pack sat heavy as a lie on the conscience of an honest man after six days of rough and tumble slogging o’er sylvan woods and rippling brooks, and thus, Joshua Foss, tired, worn and frustrated, shuffled off the coil of his serpentine journey through the wilds of New England towards the urbane city of Montreal by erupting, like the pit of an overripe chokecherry squeezed out by a child’s fat hand, into the centre of the village of Eaton Corner which, he was delighted to discover, was in the thralls of a rather luridly beautiful autumnal season making the unpleasant memory of his arduous journey disappear in a puff of sunlight filtering through the falling leaves; he decided to stay.”

In the Adventure category, David Oliver won first pittance, and Carole Martignacco came in second. For Crime/Mystery, David Oliver took First again, and Judy Palmer, Second. Taking the Pittance in the Fantasy section was Jaime Dunton, with Mead Baldwin in second place. For Legends, Susan Mastine won first prize, and David Oliver won second.

Second place in the Local History category went to Judy Palmer. And finally, Beverly Dame and Maurice Crossfield got the first and second prize in the Romance category.

Several of the winning sentences were inspired by current events – the elections, the thought of referendum, and the Lac-Mégantic train disaster, for example. Others related to figures from the region’s history – Joshua Foss, Donald Morrison the Megantic Outlaw, and William Stone, for example. All were verbose, convoluted, and judging from the applause and laughter, funny.

The whole Bulwer Purple Prose Project – now in its second year – was inspired, of course, by writer and politician Lord Bulwer-Lytton. He visited Willliams Corner in the mid-1800s, and then the place was re-named in his honour. Thus Bulwer came into being. Bulwer-Lytton’s entire name was “Lord Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton.” “His very name needed an editor,” Ross Murray joked.

“For ‘twas this privileged peer who put pen to paper and produced perhaps, for the period, the most profoundly pompous and perplexingly problematic prologue to the prose that proceeded.”

This year’s organizing committee was Mead Baldwin, Wanda Dillabough, Rachel Garber, Jerome Krause, Janice LaDuke of Black Cat Books, Michelle Lapitre, Linda Morra, Judy Palmer and Peggy Roy. The Centre d’Action Benevole du Haut St Francois contributed $100, printing and door prizes. Dick Tracy made the trophies, wooden pedestals sporting a now-rare Canadian penny.

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A few more days to spill purple ink

Bulwer Purple Prose Project extends Deadline

Bulwer, March 16, 2014. So you didn’t quite make the March 15th deadline? Reprieve is granted – the Bulwer Purple Prose Project is accepting submissions up until March 21. And then, hot on the heels of that deadline, it’s high time to get your ticket to the March 29th awards supper.

The purple website, https://bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com/, has just been updated. On the “Entries” page is a scintillating selection of appallingly florid first sentences to the worst novel ever imagined, posted anonymously. For example, here’s one:

“Tracking down a dirty rotten scoundrel like Black Bart in the mean streets of Bishopton, during the dark days of the Great Depression, was a lonely, perilous task, since the pay was lousy and the only benefit was a paid up funeral, but as long I had my faithful, erstwhile partner, a miniature beige dachshund named Sheldon, I was content.”

Would-be wretched writers can see the short-and-simple rules on the Bulwer Purple Prose website, and then just email their submissions to BulwerPPP@gmail.com. A highly secret jury will select winners in several different categories, and an overall grand pittance-winner.

Here’s what project coordinator Wanda Dillabough said. “Everything is coming together beautifully. Truly terrible prose is arriving in our inbox. A fabulous dinner is being planned by the people at the Bulwer Community Center. Secret judges are in place. Emcee Ross Murray is busy writing Lord Bulwer-Lytton jokes. Musicians are putting together their set lists. Please keep that bad writing coming and make sure you get your ticket for the dinner as quickly as you can. We are sure to sell out.”

It’s all in great fun, and all in honour of 19th century Lord Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton. The village of Bulwer was named after him, local legend says. Lord Bulwer was a British politician and also an immensely popular novelist. He’s known for his purple prose – long and flowery sentences.

For wretched writers and wretched readers alike is planned a supper fit for a lord. For example, roast beef. Roast pork. A little vegetarian something special. Home-made rolls. Mashed potatoes. Horse radish. Varied vegetables. Apple sauce. Mustard bean pickles. And assorted 1800s circa desserts. All created by Peggy Grapes and her first-class culinary team at the Bulwer Community Centre.

Musicians for the awards supper are the popular five-man Mostly Swing group. And a bass and fiddle duo all the way from Bulwer, Janice LaDuke and Dave Gillis.

The contest organizers are all volunteers. So are the musicians, emcee Ross Murray, and the culinary team. The proceeds of the supper go to support the Bulwer Community Centre. The 2013 awards supper raised $1,200 for the Centre.

Meal tickets are $20 for students, seniors or those in 1800s costume, and $25 for others. The supper is on Saturday, March 29, at 6 p.m. at the Bulwer Community Centre, on Jordan Hill Road in Bulwer. Please reserve tickets in advance by visiting the Black Cat Books at 168E Queen Street, Lennoxville (819-346-1786), contacting Peggy Roy of the Bulwer Community Centre (819-640-3571), or emailing BulwerPPP@gmail.com.

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Purple Prose Wanted!

Bulwer, February 18, 2014. The Bulwer Purple Prose Project is urgently seeking submissions of dreadful writing of the purple kind – the opening sentence to the worst novel ever. The quirky little literary contest’s deadline is coming up with alacrity. It’s the Ides of March. That’s the 15th, of course.

The horrible turns of phrase will be feted at a hilarious country supper on Saturday, March 29. The winners – selected by a highly esteemed and highly secret jury – will receive their just reward – a pittance! Ahem. Remember the penny?

This is the second Bulwer purple prose project. Two big-time winners of the 2013 edition were Jerome Krause of Ayer’s Cliff and Mead Baldwin of Way’s Mills. The Bulwer Community Centre was full to cracking with an audience of 99, lots of side-splitting laughter, and a good deal of good food and great music. The emcee was Ross Murray of Stanstead. He plans to be back again this year, too.

Here is the winning sentence in last year’s Romance category, by Mead Baldwin. “The young starstruck Romeo, who had never ventured this far into the esoteric world of romance, stared vacantly into the large warm beautiful eyes of his heart’s desire, knowing that their love would never be complete, because he was but a young inexperienced farmhand, and she was a Jersey cow.”

The project is named after Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton. So is the tiny village of Bulwer, about 15 kilometres east of Lennoxville. It used to be called Williams Corner. The local lore is that Lord Bulwer stopped at their train station in the mid-1800s. The villagers were so impressed by his visit that they renamed their busy village after him.

Lord Bulwer was a British politician and also an immensely popular novelist. He made a fortune writing penny novels. He’s known for his purple prose – long and flowery sentences. One of the most famous is the opening sentence of the novel, Paul Clifford. Even Snoopy borrowed the first seven words of it. Here’s how it goes:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

One of the new submissions already up on the Bulwer Purple Prose website is about another more recent “lord,” locally known as Charlie Bury. It reads, “When no one was looking, Lord Bury of Birchton let a laugh out of his belly as he pondered the lead story for the next day’s edition of the daily broadsheet, which had a long tradition of social notes much to the chagrin of the younger folks, and took the pencil from behind his ear as the telephone rang.”

Also on the website are the contest rules. They’re short and sweet. Each entry should consist of only one sentence, preferably less than 60 words long. Eastern Townships residents are welcome to participate. There is no participation fee. As they come in, submissions are posted anonymously. The website is at bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com. Submissions are invited by email to BulwerPPP@gmail.com.

The organizing committee has expanded this year. Linda Dillabough heads the group. Working behind the scenes are Mead Baldwin, Rachel Garber, Janice LaDuke, Michelle Lepitre, Linda Morra, Ross Murray, Judy Palmer and Peggy Roy.

And in the kitchen at the Bulwer Community Centre is a whole other group working to prepare the country supper. The menu is replete with great home-made food such as Lord Bulwer may have tasted during his visit in the 1800s. Musicians are also lined up for the programme. The proceeds of the supper go to support the Bulwer Community Centre. Meal tickets are $20 for students, seniors or those in 1800s costume, and $25 for others.

To get your tickets, visit the Black Cat Books at 168E Queen Street, Lennoxville, or call 819-346-1786. As Lady Janice LaDuke of the Black Cat Books says, “It’s a literary concern of local import!”

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Bulwer Seeks Purple Prose

Bulwer, January 29, 2014. The second annual edition of the Bulwer Purple Prose Project is at hand. It’s a quirky little literary contest that saw the dark of night a year ago at the Bulwer Community Centre. That’s a “dark and stormy night,” to be sure, as first penned by a Victorian writer, Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton – Lord Bulwer, for short.

The little village of Bulwer is his namesake, and so is the BPPP, as its organizers affectionately call it. The project is a fundraiser for the Bulwer Community Centre, 15 kilometres east of Lennoxville.

Participants are invited to submit just one sentence – the first sentence to the worst novel ever. Entries are due between now and March 15, 2014. The awards supper is planned for Saturday, March 29.

Bulwer was once a busy village called Williams Corner, complete with train station. The story goes that Lord Bulwer stopped at the Williams Corner train station in the mid 1800s.

In those days, Lord Bulwer was famous. He was the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, and also an immensely popular novelist. So no wonder the villagers promptly re-baptised their bustling town after him.

Lord Bulwer authored the famous line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” in 1830. Those words began the opening sentence of his novel, Paul Clifford. Here’s the complete sentence – all 58 words of it:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

That’s a prime example of purple prose – convoluted, flowery sentences. Here’s another, penned by Jerome Krause. It was the “grand pittance” winner of the 2013 edition of the BPPP:

 “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!”

Krause is on the expanded team of volunteer BPPP organizers this year, along with Mead Baldwin, Wanda Dillabough, Rachel Garber, Janice LaDuke, Gordon Lambie, Michelle Lepitre, Linda Morra, Ross Murray, Judy Palmer, and Peggy Roy. Another team of volunteers at the Bulwer Community Centre will put on the awards supper, as they did last year. It was a festive affair, attended by 99 laughing guests.

The contest rules have only slightly changed this year. Participants are limited to residents of the Townships, so they will be able to attend the awards supper in Bulwer. Each entry should consist of only one sentence, preferably less than 60 words long. Participation is free. The rules are on the BPPP’s website, as well as the 2013 submissions. The site is at https://bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com/

“We’re very excited to be doing this again,” said Dillabough. “As entries come in, they will be posted on the site, but on an anonymous basis. So get busy writing!”

Submissions, or any questions, should be sent to BulwerPPP@gmail.com. An anonymous jury will choose the purplest of the purple prose. The awards will be a pittance – one of those rare Canadian pennies.

Proceeds of the dinner will go to support the Bulwer Community Centre.

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Record 2014-02-21 Bulwer Purple Prose

Bulwer Seeks Purple Prose

Bulwer, January 6, 2014. The second annual edition of the Bulwer Purple Prose Project is at hand. It’s a quirky little literary contest that saw the dark of night a year ago at the Bulwer Community Centre. That’s a “dark and stormy night,” to be sure, as first penned by a Victorian writer, Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton – Lord Bulwer, for short.

The little village of Bulwer is his namesake, and so is the BPPP, as its organizers affectionately call it. The project is a fundraiser for the Bulwer Community Centre, 15 kilometres east of Lennoxville.

Participants are invited to submit just one sentence – the first sentence to the worst novel ever. Entries are due between now and March 15, 2014. The awards supper is planned for Saturday, March 29.

Bulwer was once a busy village called Williams Corner, complete with train station. The story goes that Lord Bulwer stopped at the Williams Corner train station in the mid 1800s.

In those days, Lord Bulwer was famous. He was the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, and also an immensely popular novelist. So no wonder the villagers promptly re-baptised their bustling town after him.

Lord Bulwer authored the famous line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” in 1830. Those words began the opening sentence of his novel, Paul Clifford. Here’s the complete sentence – all 58 words of it:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

That’s a prime example of purple prose – convoluted, flowery sentences. Here’s another, penned by Jerome Krause. It was the “grand pittance” winner of the 2013 edition of the BPPP:

“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!”

Krause is on the expanded team of volunteer BPPP organizers this year, along with Mead Baldwin, Wanda Dillabough, Rachel Garber, Janice LaDuke, Gordon Lambie, Michelle Lepitre, Linda Morra, Ross Murray, Judy Palmer, and Peggy Roy. Another team of volunteers at the Bulwer Community Centre will put on the awards supper, as they did last year. It was a festive affair, attended by 99 laughing guests.

The contest rules have only slightly changed this year. Participants are limited to residents of the Townships, so they will be able to attend the awards supper in Bulwer. Each entry should consist of only one sentence, preferably less than 60 words long. Participation is free. The rules are on the BPPP’s website, as well as the 2013 submissions. The site is at https://bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com/

“We’re very excited to be doing this again,” said Dillabough. “As entries come in, they will be posted on the site, but on an anonymous basis. So get busy writing!”

Submissions, or any questions, should be sent to BulwerPPP@gmail.com. An anonymous jury will choose the purplest of the purple prose. The awards will be a pittance – one of those rare Canadian pennies.

Proceeds of the dinner will go to support the Bulwer Community Centre.

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Bulwer Purple Prose Literary Awards

Jerome Krause Takes the Grand Pittance

Bulwer, April 7, 2013. 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 Elizabeth 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 Bulwer-Lytton’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 https://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 Fantasy 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 https://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.

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).

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).

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.

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.

Record article 2013-03-12

Wretched Writers Welcome

Purple Prose Project puts Bulwer on the Map

Bulwer, March 12, 2013. The newest little literary contest – the Bulwer Purple Prose Project – has a new submission deadline just for Bishop’s University students.

And it has the blessing of the Grand Panjandrum himself.

That’s Professor Scott Rice of the San Jose State University in California. He opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of purple prose in 1982. That’s when he started his own Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Each year, it still invites submissions of just one sentence – the opening sentence to the worst novel ever. The first year, he got three entries. The second year, he got more than 3,000. So said the People magazine in 1983.

In January, Rice was on the phone with Jacquie Czernin of CBC Radio’s Breakaway and a member of the Bulwer Purple Prose Project’s team. He gave his official blessing to his contest’s copycat, the Bulwer Purple Prose Project. He said he’s never been to Quebec, but he’d love to come. Specifically, he’d love to come to Bulwer.

Bulwer is a tiny village on Jordan Hill Road, just 15 clics east of Lennoxville. The Canadian Council on Geomatics calls it a “lieu non organisé,” or non-incorporated. Census Canada has no stats on its population. Cookshire-Eaton swallowed it up in one gulp. RoadsideThoughts.com has no stories about it.

Well, the Bulwer Purple Prose Project and the Bulwer Community Centre know a story about Bulwer, straight from the mouths of Bulwerians.

About 150 years before Professor Rice, another Grand Panjandrum, visited Bulwer in the mid-1800s, when it was a thriving intersection named Williams Corner. The visitor was a famous novelist from England – Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton. He descended from the train one day and spoke with some locals, and they re-christened their village Bulwer.

That gives the Bulwer Purple Prose Project special legitimacy, say its organizers Wanda Dillabough, Michelle Lepitre and Rachel Garber. The project is a tongue-in-cheek literary contest that invites entries of one sentence, the best first sentence of the worst novel ever – the kind of line that Lord Bulwer might have written.

For example, the opening sentence of one of his 25 novels, Paul Clifford, goes like this:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

Entries are invited in a slew of categories – adventure, crime, fantasy, legends, local history, and romance. They should be one sentence long, and as purple as possible. They are due between now and midnight March 23. Participation is free.

The Awards Dinner is planned for Saturday, April 6, at the Bulwer Community Centre. The Centre is planning a country supper fit for a lord. The Master of Ceremonies – our very own Grand Panjandrum – is to be Ross Murray. All proceeds go to support the Centre. Tickets are $15 for students and $20 for others.

The contest’s website is https://bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com/. It lists a few short rules, and how to participate. Entries will be posted online, but only anonymously. That’s so the secret jury of three bards will not be biased by seeing authors’ names. While the participants are anonymous, the organizers say, the winners will be awarded an evening of feral fame and a Grand Pittance.

Still wondering about the Grand Panjandrum? He first appeared in a nonsensical paragraph by Samuel Foote, published in 1755 to test the memory of an actor who said he could read a paragraph once and then recite it verbatim. Here it is, thanks to Wikipedia:

“So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf, to make an apple pie; and at the same time a great she-bear coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. “What! No soap?” So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top; and they all fell to playing the game of catch as catch can, till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.”

For information, contact BulwerPPP@gmail.com.

-30-

Wretched Writers Welcome

Purple Prose Project puts Bulwer on the Map

Bulwer, January 14, 2013. The newest little literary contest – the Bulwer Purple Prose Project – has a new submission deadline – the Ides of March 2013. And it has the blessing of the Grand Panjandrum himself.

That’s Professor Scott Rice of the San Jose State University in California. He opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of purple prose in 1982. That’s when he started his own Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Each year, it still invites submissions of just one sentence – the opening sentence to the worst novel ever. The first year, he got three entries. The second year, he got more than 3,000. So said the People magazine in 1983.

Last week, Rice was on the phone with Jacquie Czernin of CBC Radio’s Breakaway and a member of the Bulwer Purple Prose Project’s team. He gave his official blessing to his contest’s copycat, the Bulwer Purple Prose Project. He said he’s never been to Quebec, but he’d love to come. Specifically, he’d love to come to Bulwer.

Bulwer is a tiny village on Jordan Hill Road, just 15 clics east of Lennoxville. The Canadian Council on Geomatics calls it a “lieu non organisé,” or non-incorporated. Census Canada has no stats on its population. Cookshire-Eaton swallowed it up in one gulp. RoadsideThoughts.com has no stories about it.

Well, the Bulwer Purple Prose Project and the Bulwer Community Centre know a story about Bulwer, straight from the mouths of Bulwerians.

About 150 years before Professor Rice, another Grand Panjandrum visited Bulwer in the mid-1800s, when it was a thriving intersection named Williams Corner. The visitor was a famous novelist from England – Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton. He descended from the train one day and spoke with some locals, and they re-christened their village Bulwer.

That gives the Bulwer Purple Prose Project special legitimacy, say its organizers Wanda Dillabough, Michelle Lepitre and Rachel Garber. The project is a tongue-in-cheek literary contest that invites entries of one sentence, the best first sentence of the worst novel ever – the kind of line that Lord Bulwer might have written.

For example, the opening sentence of one of his 25 novels, Paul Clifford, goes like this:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

Entries are invited in a slew of categories – adventure, crime, fantasy, legends, local history, and romance. They should be one sentence long, and as purple as possible. They are due between now and March 15. Participation is free.

The Awards Dinner is planned for Saturday, April 6, at the Bulwer Community Centre. The Centre is planning a country supper fit for a lord. The Master of Ceremonies – our very own Grand Panjandrum – is to be Ross Murray. All proceeds go to support the Centre. Tickets are $15 for students and $20 for others.

The contest’s website is https://bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com/. It lists a few short rules, and how to participate. Entries will be posted online, but only anonymously. That’s so the secret jury of three bards will not be biased by seeing authors’ names. While the participants are anonymous, the organizers say, the winners will be awarded an evening of feral fame and a Grand Pittance.

Still wondering about the Grand Panjandrum? He first appeared in a nonsensical paragraph by Samuel Foote, published in 1755 to test the memory of an actor who said he could read a paragraph once and then recite it verbatim. Here it is, thanks to Wikipedia:

“So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf, to make an apple pie; and at the same time a great she-bear coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. “What! No soap?” So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top; and they all fell to playing the game of catch as catch can, till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.”

For information, contact BulwerPPP@gmail.com.

-30-

Quirky Literary Contest invites Entries

Bulwer, December 11, 2012. A new literary contest has seen the dark of night – “a dark and stormy night!” It’s the Bulwer Purple Prose Project.

Participants are invited to submit just one sentence – the opening sentence to the worst novel ever. Entries are due between now and March 15, 2013.

The project is named after Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton. So is the tiny village of Bulwer, about 15 kilometres east of Lennoxville.

The story is that Lord Bulwer stopped at the Williams Corner train station in the mid 1800s. The villagers promptly re-baptised their busy intersection after him.

In those days, Lord Bulwer was a British politician, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and also an immensely popular novelist. He made a fortune writing penny novels, says Wikipedia. In 1830, he authored the famous line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Those words began the opening sentence of his novel, Paul Clifford.

Here’s Lord Bulwer’s complete sentence – all 58 words of it:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

– Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, in Paul Clifford (1830)

“Lord Bulwer, our Prince of Purple Prose, is renowned for his felicitous turns of phrase,” laughed Rachel Garber. She’s one of the three organizers of the contest, along with Michelle Lepitre and Rev. Wanda Dillabough.

The contest’s website lists a few other famous phrases by Lord Bulwer. “The pen is mightier than the sword,” for example. Or, “Talent does what it can: Genius does what it must.”

Visitors to the site will also see the contest rules – they’re short and sweet – and how to participate. The site is at https://bulwerpurpleprose.wordpress.com/

Each entry should consist of only one sentence, preferably less than 60 words long. Anyone is welcome to participate. There is no participation fee.

“As entries come in, they will be posted on the site,” said Garber, “but on an anonymous basis. Submissions should be sent to BulwerPPP@gmail.com. Then a jury of three bards will choose the purplest of the purple prose.”

Awards will be a pittance, promise the organizers. The winners will be honoured at a festive country supper at the Bulwer Community Centre on Saturday, April 6, 2013 – a dark night, preferably not stormy! Proceeds of the dinner will go to support the Bulwer Community Centre.

“We like this project very much! I read some of the examples at our board meeting, and they were bent over laughing!” said Peggy Roy. She is treasurer of the Centre.

The organizers gratefully acknowledge the Bulwer PPP’s debt to the granddaddy of all Lord Bulwer fiction contests (www.bulwer-lytton.com). The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is based in the English Department at San Jose State University, and has been going strong since the 1982.

“Our only claim to originality is our very own Bulwer, Quebec, which, we believe, confers on the Bulwer PPP a special legitimacy,” said Garber.

Painting of Lord Bulwer by Henry William Pickersgill. Lord Bulwer is the moving spirit behind a new thumb-in-cheek literary contest, the Bulwer Purple Prose Project.

Painting of Lord Bulwer by Henry William Pickersgill. Lord Bulwer is the moving spirit behind a new thumb-in-cheek literary contest, the Bulwer Purple Prose Project.

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