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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 4: July 2020
Nonfiction: 492 words
By Clare MacQueen

About the Quink Writing Challenge


As some of you may have suspected, I enjoy “hosting” writing challenges. At KYSO Flash, Jack Cooper and I worked together on two of them: The DavenTree Ekphrastic Writing Challenge and the One Life, One Earth Challenge.

And for Issue 3 of MacQ, I offered The Magician Ekphrastic Writing Challenge, featuring one of my treasured possessions, a small sculpture by Aggie Zed.

After launching MacQ-3 in mid-May and resting up a coupla days from that labor of love, I began ruminating on how to find additional respite from all the distressing news in the world—preferably, respite that might help others as well. Most likely a literary or artistic project for the MacQ journal, which itself is my way of creating beauty in the world and resisting the forces of evil.

Given my deep faith in the restorative powers of laughter, I felt that the next project also needed to tickle my funny bone above and beyond.

One idea hopscotched to another, and I found myself cruising through the Qs in the dictionary. Serendipity! The juxtaposition of quarks and quinking ducks clinched it: I would offer a writing challenge that features an unusual word with a range of definitions. A contest with a built-in fun factor.

Deep bows of appreciation to everyone who accepted MacQ’s “Quink” Challenge, especially on such short notice! Submissions were open for only two weeks. Even so, by the 30 June deadline, almost three dozen entries had arrived. Three or four were from folks who apparently missed the memo about including “quink” in their entries.

But with the others, I was downright tickled to see just how imaginative and adroit writers can be despite a time crunch and with a pandemic and civil unrest and the climate crisis raging in the background—not to mention the challenge of seamlessly working into a piece of short-form literature a quirky word like “quink” with all six of its definitions.

A word, oddly enough, that I cannot remember encountering before. Not even Parker Quink® ink.

For the list of definitions and other details, see Contest Guidelines.


From a total of 34 entries, I was delighted to select the following nine stories and poems for publication. Color me “hopelessly inflatuated” with these remarkable works, a few of which make me howl with laughter. For which I’m deeply grateful. Belly laughs truly are wonderful medicine!

Winner ($200 USD)

Mental Distancing in the Time of Quink [flash fiction] by Linda Saldaña

Three Finalists ($100 USD each), unranked

My Lover Needs Me to Bubble With Her [micro-fiction] by Roberta Beary

Quink Again [poem] by Dennis Marden Clark

Polysemic crush [haibun story] by Lee Nash

Semi-finalists, unranked

The Q Menagerie [flash fiction] by Christopher Candice

In the Quink of an Eye [flash fiction] by Pamelyn Casto

Holding Quinks [prose poem] by Kelly Jensen

Quick or Ink? [flash fiction] by Jenine Oosthuizen

The Lexiconic Labyrinth of Millicent Greaves [flash fiction] by Daryl Scroggins

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