GOING BEHIND THE POEM: adjudication of poetry competition

Anne Scott, a lifelong enthusiast of literature and an experienced university lecturer, opened her talk on 16th November by saying she was ‘going behind the poem’. She defined the writing of poetry by quoting Frank O’Hara ‘I take this up for myself… and you the reader take up the thread’. Reading the 14 poems submitted, all entitled “Across The Table”, Anne really enjoyed the anonymity of the writers. ‘Men and women don’t write poetry as they themselves appear to the world’. This was especially so in the 3rd prize winner, ‘Waiter‘. Anne expected this to be a woman and she really loved the phrase ‘I can tell’, the very last line of the poem. Interestingly, the poet was our own well-known Jack.

1st prize went to ‘Communicant’ (Evie). She based her poem on poet Alice Meynell (1847-1922). It had a simple clarity and a powerful last line, ‘he turned his back’. This was the story of her falling in love with a priest.

2nd prize to ‘DC9’ was by Tony. Based on the chess games between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. The contests were mysterious and dangerous to the chess players. The two-edged sword is the deadly element in competition and achievement.

‘Cornelius’ (Bill Doug) was Highly Commended and ‘Registrar’ (Lucy) was Commended by Anne, who eased the adjudication along skilfully and ended with words for every season – ‘a poem needs oil’.

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