The BP Creative Writing Contest: The Best of the Worst

We asked you to top the outrageous reporting being churned out by a “writer” hired on behalf of BP. Here are some of our favorites.

Gulf oil spill cleanup


Last week we alterted you to the literary genius of one Paula Kolmar, a “writer” deployed to the Gulf on behalf of BP to pen emotional passages about just how well the cleanup efforts are going. We asked you, our talented readers, to try and top turns of phrases like: “From the relative comfort of a large square deck with a cold bottle of
water always in hand, and an air-conditioned TV room with comfy sofas a
level below, I witnessed beauty preparing to face the beast…A ballet at
sea as mesmerizing as any performance in a concert hall, and worthy of
an audience in its own right.”

Well, this symphony of words was topped by several of you, who contributed excerpts every bit as bad as Kolmar’s misguided metaphors and hyped-up hyperbole. Here are our favorites. 

Dave Rockliff:


As the sun pulls itself over the horizon and rains down rays of joy upon
the Gulf of Mexico I stare out from my perch atop the most luxurious 40
year-old shrimp trawler i’ve ever had the pleasure of riding. Looking
out to port one might think they are entering heaven as the sun’s
luminesense is intensly reflected by the blacky-brown mirrored glass
that coats the top of the waves. The maple tinged water of the gulf
evokes a rumble in my stomach telling my brain that it is almost time
for breakfast.

I can’t get the thought of something slathered in
a thick coating of heavy syrup out of my head. But before I can eat my
stomach creates room for pancakes by orally coating the cutest little
patch of sheeny ocean with dispersants that have entered my central
nervous system via the spiced air of the gulf. I get a rush mingled with
a sense of pride knowing that i’m doing my part to help the great folks
of Louisiana. As my rush of pride subsides and I can once again walk in
a straight line I think back to my first whiff of these intoxicating,
exotic fumes.

The odor’s potpourri-like essence cannot be
described in words and it leaves me smiling to myself knowing how lucky I
am to be able to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity (in
this specific location at least). I watch a brown pelican flap his wings
in slow motion, getting his morning tai-chi workout in as he frolics in
the water. I can’t help but laugh to myself knowing that the great
folks at BP are paying me to do this. The wage isn’t much but anyone
that has been out here knows the experience is payment enough.

Oliver Redmont:

It was a bright, sunny, and sunshine-filled morning, and with my
magnifying glass in hand (I’m a journalist), I stretched out by the
shore, which I discovered tossed and turned, sort of as rough as it was
calm, breathing new life into the horizon before me. As the luscious
water churned like melted fudge, it washed up to my toes, tickling my
flip-flop-clad feet, and I felt strongly a new faith and hope and
promise for American progress and domestic ingenuity. After all,
watching it visually, eyeing it with my own round eyes, seeing it,
glancing at it in this light, squinting from the glint of the Gulf’s
enduring sparkle, I knew this visible vision was appearing as a sign.
Soon the heavenly clouds, which I realized were also very white, parted,
gently, and streaks of gold streamed down into the chocolaty oceans,
like yellowy straws into the Starbucks iced-coffee that I enjoyed
earlier with the friendly and cheerful and upbeat locals.

concentration and investigative reporting were soon interrupted, however
though, by a duck, who strode ashore, and seemed to chuckle at his
surroundings, happily.

Yes, I found myself agreeing, jotting down
in my mahogany-hued Moleskine: we all could use a change of scenery.

Matthew Resnick:

I met with volunteers from the Audubon Society alongside a peaceful
inlet as the sun reached its midday zenith yesterday. As they gently
scrubbed the thickened sea-water off of a number of pelicans, a peaceful
tranquility washed over me as these beautiful birds so calmly
relinquished their animalistic pride for a proper cleaning. I talked
with Susan, one of the smiling, soft spoken Audubon members as she
gently massaged darkened liquid from one of the more majestic creatures
of the group. “We’ve wanted to come to the Gulf for a while,” she said,
“The water here was well-known for its sub-par cleanliness even 10
years ago and this event was the perfect excuse to stop by and give our
feathered friends a thorough cleansing.” When asked what the long term
effects of the freshly peppered ocean would be on marine life, she
surmised that, “With the work we’re doing here, local avian populations
might just end up healthier than ever.”

Read the rest of the excellent contributions here.


About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato