Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Elements" Poetry competition results

Adelaide Plains Poetry Competition, 2012/13

This was a pleasurable competition to judge, and most entrants had tried really hard to address the theme of The Elements.  Some poets, especially young poets, came at the subject matter quite tangentially and maybe there were some misconceptions about what the elements describe, but most made a very good attempt at least to involve some reference to Earth Fire Air or Water, including a large number of bushfire poems.  Only one poet utilized the Table of Elements, but more of that later.

There were eight entries at Primary level, but The Australian Way (Emily Zdanowicz) stood out, a poem about life on the land.  Good rhyme and rhythm and telling a popular narrative of drought and bush spirit:  First Prize.  The Second placegetter, A New Dawn (Brynnie Rafe) is a competent attempt at free verse, with good rhythm; a bit over-dramatic  -  more “opera” than “musical!”  Summer Heat (Elizabeth Harley) was Commended.

There were only two entries at Secondary level, neither particularly polished, but to be encouraged with Commended certificates: Jane Zdanowicz and Ashleigh Mounsen.

65 entries into the adult open section led to a shortlist of about a dozen.  An overemphasis on rhyme, sometimes extremely clich├ęd and often at the expense of rhythm and interest, let some poets down. It struck me that many poets in this open section had probably not read aloud to themselves their own poems.  If you are going to pick up mistakes in rhythm you can only do it aloud to yourself  -  and not a mutter: you really need to declaim your poems to hear if they work.

The shortlist was full of interest.  Some poems were a bit laboured, as if the writers had found the theme quite difficult to address adequately.  Some concrete poems were clever, one marred only by an unfortunate last line.

I commended Aftermath (David Campbell) as one of the better bushfire poems, of which there were many.  The judge lived through the Ash Wednesday bushfires on the farm in the Adelaide Hills and has not been able to write poetry about that day and its aftermath.  David has managed to catch the ongoing psychological damage well.  Practised and poignant bush poetry.

Highly Commended to Sonnet to the Wind (Shelley Hanson) and Liquid Sculptures (Anna Jacobson), this latter an effective concrete poem, looking good on the page as well as pleasing to the ear.

I was never in any doubt about the winning poets, my only problem was choosing a single first prize winner.  Such a brilliant light touch from Judy Ferguson with Earth Air Fire Water.  Outstanding in its simplicity, everything pared down to only the essence.  The poem about Marie Curie, Lady of the Elements, (Shelley Hanson) was so good and a really clever take on the theme.  A good narrative poem, good rhyme and rhythm, good storyline, neat stanzas, the whole poem all of a piece.  Good work.  These two poets were so far ahead of the field that a shared first prize was the only option.

Thank you for allowing me to share your work.  It is great to see Australian poets working hard at this artform.  Well done everybody and never give up!

Dr Ray Tyndale

I've done it before, I can do it again

I was at the Gawler Poetry Reading yesterday, and one of the poets mentioned the task of writing a poem every day, for all of April. I'd read about that on Facebook previously, and had said that I'd give it a go. 

Yesterday at the Reading, it still deemed like a thing I could easily do. Now though, now that April has actually begun I'm wondering . . . I have actually committed to writing a new poem every day in a month. That was January back in 2011, I think.

That challenge went well enough - I actually ended up writing more than one poem every day. Some of the poems were actually not bad, too, if I do say so myself. Life seems more crowded somehow now though, and I'm wondering - can I really do this?

I suspect that if I quit wondering and start writing, I can meet this challenge. Is anyone else interested in facing this challenge? I know my dear friend Nigel has said he'll do it. Who else is game enough to do it?

I've written my poem for the 1st of April, and I've posted it, and will post all of the other poems I write for April, here

Thursday, March 14, 2013

UFOs and Poetry

A friend of mine has given me a bit of a challenge, in response to a comment I left on his blog. The friend is John Malone, an Adelaide poet and writer. I'd written about an experience that happened many, years ago, when I was a teenager.

This is how I described it on John's blog: 
'Re the other subject, I’ve certainly seen a UFO. It was way back when I was a teenager. My brothers and their mates and I were hanging around on our front lawn after school one afternoon, when one of us saw something. It was a light off to the south-east, just above the height of the hills. It moved steadily along, then disappeared. It could have been a helicopter, but certainly not a plane. We never heard anything about any other sightings of it, and I think we just wrote it off as ‘one of those weird things that happen’.
When you’re young there are lots of weird things that just happen. You don’t have to do anything about them, they just happen. Then the next day school happens again, and you forget about it. This UFO, while ignored for the most part, has never been forgotten, not by me anyway. I hold onto it as something slightly mysterious but harmless, that happened. A slightly interesting thing…'
I can still remember this incident, even though it was such a long time ago. The challenge, if that's what it was (it may have just been an idle comment), was to write a poem about this incident - John indicated he'd be interested in seeing the resulting poem.
So, I'm thinking about it. I've certainly written poems about all kinds of things. I recently wrote 15 poems in response to prompts from a publisher, Slush Pile, and when I looked at the list, I wondered if I could perform the task. This was a project of the Slush Pile editor, Matt Potter, and one he hoped would turn out well.
Matt contacted five poets he knew through his work with Slush Pile, and asked them to take part in the project. This project certainly worked, and there is now a fine book, 'Versus' as a result. The poets all took the prompts off in quite different directions, and in a manner of different poetic styles. 
So I feel I've proven my ability to write poems about a range of topics... I just need to get my head into the right space and time, and write that poem!
Will this become my first ever Science Fiction poem? Only time can tell ...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Answer to the question "What Do You Do?"

In my past this question has been an easy one to answer. When I got my first job, after leaving school, I could proudly say - 'I work at the Australian Taxation Office.' 

I stuck with that organisation until my son was in my tummy, getting ready to enter the world and our lives. Then I could proudly say - 'I'm a mother, glad to be one!'

After that, it's been a little messier. I'm still a proud mother, as well as wife to young Jake's dad. These two jobs will be with me until I die, and I'm thrilled with that situation. I've had some part time and casual jobs since Jake started school, none of which felt like things I could happily spend many years working at. Then a chronic illness arrived, and I moved into the world of living with a disability. My illness, multiple sclerosis has been an interesting learning curve, and I've spent three years getting used to it all, until I will now say, when and if asked, 'I'm on the disability support pension.'

The whole time I've been doing these things, from ATO officer to pensioner, I've been writing. Sometimes I've written short stories, sometimes poetry. I've begun and abandoned several first drafts of novels. It is only in the past few years, though, that I've happily said out loud, when asked what I do, 'I am a writer and poet.'

I've had short stories and poetry awarded and published. I am a writer and poet. I was a writer and poet well before I ever had anything published or awarded. It's taken me a long time to feel I could call myself those two things, even though that's what I've legitimately been for at least thirty years. I write, so I'm a writer. I write poetry, so I'm a poet. 

It seems I'm not the only shy one, sitting at my desk and scribbling or tapping away, hiding from the truth of what I am, a writer and poet. How about your? Do you hide from or cringe away from the fact that you're a writer and/or poet? Face the fact, if your write prose and/or poetry, you are a writer and/or poet. Stand up tall, and take on the terms. Be proud to say clearly and proudly, 'I am a writer!' or 'I am a poet!'

So what about it, are you willing to tell everyone? Please let us know, we're all part of the same game, playing with words and giving them meaning!