Monday, January 11, 2010

The Plough Poetry Prize

The Plough Prize is one of the competitions I have entered regularly over the last few years. Thrilled to get two poems shortlisted in 2007. It is a well-run competition with online entry facilities.

This year all entrants were offered a free check box critique. I sent off four poems and got the critiques back today. These are not done by the judge and therefore don't necessarily reflect possible results but judging by them two of my poems possibly stand an outside chance of being listed, two certainly not. Results and long and short lists will be available by 1st February.

The check box critiques are in four categories: Presentation; Title; Subject/Idea; Form/Structure; Style. This is followed by a short summary judgement. Also included are general tips about entering poetry competitions.

For example in the Form/Structure section these are the possible tick headings:

Form enhances subject and is well-executed
Form inappropriate/dominates content
Form largely well-executed, but some flaws
Form inconsistently applied
Successful poem, using poetic devices to produce a cohesive whole
Lapses into prose occasionally
Line breaks/lengths work with poem’s sense and/or rhythm
Line breaks/lengths sometimes work against poem’s sense and/or rhythm
Staccato effect from overuse of short lines
Stanza (verse) breaks support meaning
Stanza breaks sometimes cause confusion or ambiguity
Poem looks inviting on the page
Poem looks forbiddingly dense, needs stanza breaks.

Two of the short final comments I got were as follows:
I like this very much. I’d suggest cutting stanzas 2 and 3, which don’t (I feel) add anything to the piece and slow its pace, which is otherwise well controlled. The ending works particularly well.

That was the best one, the following was the least best:
This poem appears to be saying something quite simple in a very complicated and wordy way, and as it progresses it moves further and further away from clear visual imagery and into the realm of the abstract. In the end, I just couldn’t get a grip on where it was going.

It's great to get feedback on entries.

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