Monday, May 12, 2008

Best Long-Form Obit about an Average Joe

Tom Hawthorn wrote the winning obit in the Society of Professional Obituary Writers 2008 Awards Category #2: Best long-form (over 800 words) obituary about an Average Joe or non-celebrity.

His 'Tattooed king of the midway' was a tough act to swallow tells the story of Don Leslie, a carnival performer known for his "legendary finale" that "involved the insertion into his mouth of five long swords."

Tom writes that Leslie "eventually abandoned the stunt after an accident in Seattle in 1989 when he came within a razor's edge of becoming a living kebob."

When colleagues toasted Tom at the awards presentation in Portland, Ore., May 10, for winning the SPOW Award, Tom responded with a line from Leslie's obit: "Down the hatch without a scratch."

Tom Hawthorn is an independent Canadian newspaper and magazine writer known for his award-winning features. His sports writing has been included in several anthologies.

Read his columns at

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