Poetry Competitions round-up

Myslexia logo

Myslexia Poetry Competition: Costa award-winning poet Kathleen Jamie is the judge of this year’s Myslexia women’s poetry competition. £7 for up to three poems, the deadline is 17 June. More details available here http://mslexia.co.uk/whatson/msbusiness/pcomp_active.php here.

Aesthetica logo

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition 2013 is now open for all writers and poets to submit entries in either the Poetry or Short Fiction category.  Submissions previously published elsewhere are accepted. Deadline: 31 August 2013. Entry is £10 and allows for the entry of two works into any one category. For more information visit the Aesthetica websitewww.aestheticamagazine.com/creativewriting

Rialto logo

The Rialto Nature Poetry competition is open for entries. The theme ‘Nature Poetry’ is a term which ‘will be given a very wide interpretation’ by judge Ruth Padel. £6 per poem and £3 per additional poem, the closing date is 30 September. Further information about submission formats and competition rules available here http://www.therialto.co.uk/pages/the-magazine/nature-poetry-competition-2013/

SALT abandons single-author poetry collections

Salt Independent Publishers

In spite performance appearing to boost current interest in poetry, Salt independent publishers have given up single author collections. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/may/24/salt-poetry-market-slump  Director Chris Hamilton-Emery explained in Guardian Poetry “We’ve seen our sales [of single-author collections] decline by over a quarter in the past year, and our sales have halved in the past five years…We have tried to commit to single-author collections by funding them ourselves, but as they have become increasingly unprofitable, we can’t sustain it.”

One positive may be Salt’s decision to focus on poetry anthologies. Increasing the number they produce might also increase opportunities for the new poet voices to be heard, but Salt’s withdrawal restricts the places available to move on to. Why don’t people read poetry collections? Is it because they don’t know they’re there or does poetry on the page holds less interest. Maybe performance is the way to bridge the gap after all.

Random poetry in public places

Poems on the underground

Poetry on the Underground is a great idea – but don’t stop at the underground and don’t keep it in London.  Let’s have random poetry in public places all over the UK; the sides of buses, in bus stops,  train stations, airports, advertising boards. Maybe start a ‘pick up a poem’ campaign. What happened to poetry in doctors surgeries? I remember Dr Geoff Lowe at Hull University talking about this many years ago. Rarely, has google let me down but all I can find is Geoff’s paper on the Health-related effects of creative and expressive writing http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1537773 and the Poems in the Waiting Room site at http://www.poemsinthewaitingroom.org/index.html They may be connected – maybe not – but both have validity.

All over towns, small doctor’s surgeries are being replaced by corporate, depersonalised Health Centres. Here’s an idea. Alongside the the bland impressionistic pictures of flowers, there could be framed poems on the walls and with the donated magazines, poetry cards. It wouldn’t cost much and if poetry is good for you then it might help us feel better.


Stag’s Leap wins T S Eliot poetry prize

The 2012 TS Eliot prize for the best new poetry collection has been won by Sharon Olds,  for Stag’s Leap.  In Sharon Olds wins TS Eliot poetry prize for Stag’s Leap collection on divorce in the Guardian, Poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, chair of the final judging panel, said: “This was the book of her career. There is a grace and chivalry in her grief that marks her out as being a world-class poet. I always say that poetry is the music of being human, and in this book she is really singing. Her journey from grief to healing is so beautifully executed.” Sharon Olds is described as pushing the boundaries of writing about emotional life and intimacy. Stag’s Leap was the unanimous choice of the judges.

I don’t find the poetry of Sharon Olds easy although she evokes images which stay. Maybe this is another aspect of the skill of a poet, where the poem is the mechanism for creating resonance; a  gestalt where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  For me, reading her poetry is a process of continually looking for something which defines the words as a poem rather than chopped up prose. I don’t know which one of us is failing.

TS Eliot Prize 2012 Shortlist


visual or oral, how do you prefer yours?

Is poetry best read in solitude or listened to in public?  How do you prefer yours? Visual? Audio? The Guardian piece Deconstructing poetry on the radio asks if discussing poetry can make a good radio programmes.  This raises interesting questions about interpretation and resonance. Is the potential effect of a poem diluted by not having the visual structure and word pattern on the page? Do assonance and alliteration benefit most from sound or vision? Or does it all depend on the poem or poet?

Radio 4’s Poetry Workshop returned on Sunday 4th November. In it, Ruth Padel travels around the country visiting local poetry groups and inviting people to read aloud their poems for discussion.  It’s a bit like a book club but you bring your own work. The application to DIY to poetry education. ‘Fathers’ was the theme for poems in the first programme while the technical issue was ‘line breaks’. Prose rarely have to worry about line breaks but when it comes to rhyme and rhythm the line break takes on an importance of its own. Removing or adding line breaks can change not only the look but also the feel of a poem whether it’s on the page or being recited.  Poetry Workshop offers free access to auditory power of poetry and is well worth the experience.  Broadcast at 4.30pm on Sundays, it’s repeated at 11.30pm the following Saturday or available on iplayer