NB: VALUS’ SIGIL is suspended until further notice; we are currently focusing on Fathom’s initiatives and securing payment for every contributor to SHARKPACK Annual. If you’ve interest in video game ekphrasis, consider our SYSTEM \ CIRCULATORY call, beginning 9/1.

Named for the vaulting, beautiful, fallen first Colossus in Shadow of the ColossusVALUS’ SIGIL calls for poems, short fiction and experimental essays. The contest has two rotating themes: ‘The Game’ and ‘Supernature’; it carries a prize of $150 and feature publication in the SHARKPACK Annual.

For 2016, the theme is ‘Supernature.’The contest is currently live.

The general guidelines demand:

—All work be original, written in English, and previously unpublished.
—No more than five pages total work. Poems may be any length (up to five pages), short fiction should not exceed 2,500 words (no minimum length—we like flash too, so a five-page entry of flash fiction might contain five separate pieces), experimental essays should not exceed 2,500 words. No genre is given preference, obviously.
—Writers may submit only once.
—Entry is free of charge.
—Be sure your name doesn’t appear on your entry; identity of authors will be tracked via Submittable, so no need to worry about receiving note of your winnings. [GRIN.]
—SHARKPACK staff are ineligible.
—The editors of SPR will judge; we won’t be able to enter into correspondence about any piece after it has been submitted, and our decision is final.

Details for theme ‘Supernature’:

Valus represents the pure creaturely: of indeterminate sex; of ahuman (and therefore troubling) size and shape, and marked with an ahuman sign; living outside legible motive; in a Freudian sense, uncanny; by-and-large, solitary. We want poems, fiction, and essays on Nature that attempt to match Valus’ gambit.

By ‘on Nature,’ we mean having a theme that somehow relates to the phenomena of the physical world: plants, animals, microbes, landscape, atmosphere, ecosystems. Conjectural Nature (space, mineral life, the elemental, etc) is also of interest. Although ‘Nature’ is generally opposed to the human or human creations, a piece focusing on the pure bodily, or on human constructs (like condominiums or cities, for example) might be inspired! We are not without hopes.

Foremost, we seek work on Nature that is searching and risky in its address. The winner of this prize will floor us with modes philosophical, formal, or imaginative.

Details for theme ‘The Game’:

Cloud! Dante! Lavender Town! Sheva Alomar! Bowser! Kirby! Gotham! Aya! Monument Valley! For ‘The Game,’ we seek poems, short fiction, and essays that complicate the gaming life, as the existence of Valus makes the mission-driven and love-driven game trope suddenly puzzling.

Complicate the gaming life: lend depth and breadth to the existence of video game characters and environments; build a sun, satellite, or pall over your own life as a lover of games; explode, enrich, or rewrite established video game narratives with your own dreamt histories, tragedies, loves, neutralities, tragicomedies, ires, ores, quicksands.

Approach from angles of personae, aesthetics, ethics, venom, high psychology, celebration, priesthood. Or something better. Write us into a new creative understanding of gaming and games with the force of your vision.

Mind: if you address a specific game or character, your work must exceed its subject; if your short story or poem or essay is only moving to someone who has played Slender 100+ times, it’s a fail. Sure, the young lady who’s played Slender may more readily appreciate your entry than one who hasn’t, but your job is to strike at, examine, and deliver the liquid transcendent content of your passion for Slender (or whatever game fixes you).

Foremost, we seek work on gaming that is searching and risky in its address. The winner of this prize will floor us with modes philosophical, formal, or imaginative.

Again, prizes include $150 cash; publication on a stand-alone page with custom layout in the 2016 SHARKPACK Annual; an announcement at SPR; and a printed certificate of the SIGIL. Up to three finalists may be awarded $25 and publication. Single pieces or entire suites from an author may take the prize.

Past winners follow.

2015     Edward Evans-Thirlwell for “Tank”
John Terrance for “Origins of an Enchanter”