Saturday, February 28, 2009

Judge's speech "Tracks and Trails" poetry competition

Thank you to Carolyn Cordon who organised and coordinated this Poetry Competition.
What a great opportunity she has provided for people young and old to have their creative
work recognised.

What is poetry?
Mike Ladd, the South Australian poet and presenter of Poetica on Radio National, says that the main distinguishing feature of poetry is that it has short lines.

Of course, those of us who love to read and write poetry would all agree with this and, at the same time, know that poetry has other important distinguishing qualities or features. Indeed, poetry can be a kind of ʻword magicʼ(Tunica 2005). It has the capacity to:
provoke and
astonish us

make us laugh
make us cry or
cause a chill to run down our spines

Other distinguishing qualities of poetry are:
* a distillation of words and/or images which give us a unique insight into a situation.
* an unexpected and original combination of words which demand the readerʼs attention.
* subtlety and nuance in relation to the topic of the poem.

To quote from Eleanor Farjeon, a poet and a writer from the nineteenth century:
Not the fly, but the gleam of the fly
Not the sea, but the sound of the sea
Not myself, but what makes me
See, hear and feel something that prose
Cannot: and what that is, who knows?
(Farjeon, E. quoted in Tunica, M., (2005) A passion for poetry)

As a poet and a writer, I understand the work that goes into any poem or piece of writing
and also the effort that is involved in entering any competition.

So, before I talk about the criteria I used and announce the winners I would like to
congratulate everyone for their efforts and for throwing their poems into the ring - to use a
bit of a mixed metaphor.

However, as the judge of this years Plains Poetry Competition therefore I was looking for
poems with the following characteristics:
an element of surprise
short lines
distilled images
subtlety and nuance
Poems that showed me something from a different angle; showed me something familiar but in an original way and, most importantly, still remained accessible to me as the reader.

These are the poems that I feel best achieved those criteria:

I chose the poem Ant Tracks as the best poem from the District Council of Mallala and Tracks and Trails as the best from the Wakefield Regional Council.

In the Primary School entry I chose Tracks and Trails.
This poem was short and sweet; elegant and amusing at the same time.
I liked its juxtaposition of poetic and spoken language. For example:
ʻTracks guide us back to a river
that flows slowly past our camp.ʼ
Then (surprising the reader)
ʻCould you flies leave us alone?ʼ

I was not able to choose a Secondary School winner.
None of the entries met my criteria.

I have, however, awarded a Special Mention to the ballad,The Women Walkers of
Hahndorf for the poetʼs attempt to write in the voice of a young nineteenth century farm woman and for bringing to life a little-known facet of womenʼs history; i.e. the farming women who set off early in the mornings and trudged the many miles carrying their produce to market.

I awarded Commended to The Murray Street Schamozzle for its humour and the way it
recalled the irreverent bush poetry of the past - particularly that published by The Gawler Bunyip.

And now I come to the winners of the 3rd, 2nd and 1st prizes

3rd Prize goes to Stuartʼs party reaches the gulf. In this poem the writer also attempts to use another voice, that of John McDouall Stuart, the Scottish explorer. In this poem, the writer quite effectively, I believe, captures the feelings of desperation which must accompany such a trek. The poem also conveys the question of ʻsuccess but at what cost?ʼ

2nd Prize goes to Train Strike. This poem provided an original take on an ordinary topic. I particularly liked the metaphors that the writer used; such as ʻa brown balloon of rush hour smogʼ and ʻdefeated briefcases pit the sweep of railway stepsʼ.

Finally, 1st prize goes to the poem Millipedes.
I particularly liked this poem for its simplicity, its personal nature and yet, at the same time, the way the poet drew on a universal emotion: grief at the breakdown of a marriage; of a relationship.
The concept of an invasion of millipedes, their toxic trails, the question marks they
inscribed on the walls of the house, the ʻsuturesʼ which cannot mend the relationship all serve as a metaphor, an image of a relationship fraying and of the narratorʼs grief and loss. The poem was also well-crafted - 3 stanzas, with eight short lines in each. The ending was clear and there was pathos without sentiment.

Well done to everyone.
Helen Lindstrom

Monday, February 23, 2009

Poetry in the Pub

The best hotel in South Australia, some great poetry. What could be better? Well, what could be better is a great mob of friends to share it all with.

If you're within driving distance to Mallala, why not drop in to the pub, have a drink, and chat with Dylan and Matt behind the bar. If you're lucky you might see Bec and little Ignatious

Arrive early and have lunch there. Great company, great food. The poetry starts at 2.00pm in the beer garden, with the announcement of the winners of the Track and Trails poetry competition, then it's open mic!

Bring a couple of your own poems along and read them among friends.

If poetry isn't your thing, well hang around anyway, we might be able to change your mind.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The vote is in!

So, should poetry rhyme? That was the question. The answer, according to the very unscientific poll conducted on this website was...


No surprises there, I'm sure. Because, most of the people who voted are involved in the contemporary poetry scene. They might look at this matter in the same way I do - different styles for different poems. Personally, I find the poem picks the style, most of the time.

If I was setting out to write a limerick, the rhyming is the uppermost point to the poem. I would never try to write a limerick about 'The lady whose hair was orange...'
Because there ain't no rhyme! lol. So the limerick is a poetic style that needs to rhymes, I'd say the villanelle is another form that needs to rhyme, in a particular way. Ballads also require rhyme.

What was my point in running this poll?

I was hoping to start a bit of a discussion on this part of poetry, to have poets think about the whole thing and enlighten me, and other readers of this blog, as to their take on the whole thing.

I've posted the comments from people who emailed me, rather than post comments to the blogsite, and very interesting comments they are too. I am still very open to receiving further comment on this subject, and any poetic subject in fact.

I also welcome anybody who can make it to Mallala on the 28th February 2009. 2pm is when we will be announcing the winners of the Tracks and Trails poetry competition, and there will be an open mic session there afterwards.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Should Poetry Rhyme?

What are your thoughts on this one?

I would love to see a discussion going on on this question.

Put in your vote and we'll see who wins, rhyming or not rhyming.

We were discussing this at my writing group the other night, and there were some very definite ideas about it. I know what I think and I'd love to know how you look at the whole thing.

So, don't be afraid to vote - we all have the right to our own opinion.

And speaking of opinions, I'd love to know your opinion on the rhyming/non rhyming question.