Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Plough Poetry Prize Results

The results of the Plough Poetry Prize have just been announced and the results and long and short lists are available on the website. There were 2,090 entries in three categories with 1,035 in the open category. One of my entries, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire (which I rate very highly myself), made the long list of 100 in this category so I feel pleased with that. The same poem has done the rounds of Irish competition without notice.

This is a very well organised competition, one of the best, and the feed back and judges comments are especially informative. Here are some of the comments:

In the two main categories, the fashion for oddly gappy and stepped layouts seems to have waned, and by and large the poems looked pretty good on the page. Some of the cliches of the last few years are fading, but others are taking their place: the filter judges identified 'leaden', 'gentle', 'nudge', 'ebb', 'carress', 'ache' and 'metamorphosis' as over-used among entries.

Other problems they encountered included gratuitous line breaks, repetition where none was needed, and prose pretending to be poems ('You can't call it a poem by squashing it up and laying it out differently,' one of them sighed). They longed for more lyricism, rhythm and musicality, and suggested that poets could test this by reading the poem aloud.

From the administrative point of view, a depressing number of entries had to be disqualified because they contravened the conditions of entry. It's the same in every contest: the administrator for the National Poetry Competition reckons that about 5-10% of their entrants fail to follow their conditions in some way, and last year that would have meant that the entries of between 500 and 1,000 poets didn't make it as far as the judge. It's hard to understand why anyone would go to all the trouble of writing and entering a poem but not read and follow the rules, but there doesn't seem to be any way of making the process foolproof. On the plus side, far fewer entrants sent under-stamped entries this year.

Poems came from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Luxemburg, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, The Netherlands and the USA.

Among the words most commonly found in titles in the main categories were: dream/s, memory/ies, soldier, fall/falls/falling, home/homecoming, colour/s; the single most popular title was Loss, closely followed by Snowdrop/s - and mysteriously, there were a surprising number of poems involving sheep.


Emerging Writer said...

Congratulations Michael. I didn't even make the longlist. Off to lick my wounds. (and check my gratuitous line breaks)

BarbaraS said...

Congrats Michael, didn't know about this one. You're fairly clocking up the ould credits there...

Michael Farry said...

Thanks ladies. EW I suspect that what is a gratuitous line break to one is challenging and exciting to another! Yes Barbara as I said in the blog this is a very well organised competition, online entry, results on time, good judge feedback and those tick box criticisms.