Very excited to hear that I’m second runner-up in the 2008 Frogmore Poetry Prize, adjudicated by Clare Pollard! Haven’t really entered many poetry competitions in the past – the odds against winning have always seemed so enormous so I’ve always focused on just submitting poems to journals and anthologies instead. But this year I decided I’d give it a go, albeit in a rather tentative, this-can’t-possibly-lead-to-anything sort of way. Having such low expectations has made the news of my win even more gratifying and I’m looking forward both to reading the selection of Frogmore publications that forms part of my prize and to spending my fifty guineas cheque!

12 responses to “Frogmore Poetry Prize

  1. I see what you mean about the post – psychic! I agree there is a general pattern to winning poems and we know it:

    2.interesting subject or unusual approach. Some element of surprise.
    3.honed images / a sprinkling of original metaphors but not overdone
    4.demonstration of skill (e.g. sound, rhythm, or a form that doesn’t force the poem)
    5.appealing to the judge’s preferences can give you the extra edge

    Susan – I’m sure your poetry is good enough so you WILL win again!

    coastcard – I agree about REACH. I also enjoy reading Smiths Knoll because the editors critique a poem each per issue – very enlightening.

  2. I have seen 'experimental' or 'avant-garde' poems placed at the top of the tree in prestigious competitions. I have also seen more traditional ones that are taken to a higher plane by their craft or unusual insight (or both). I entered the Petra Kenney with 'The Figure at the Phoenix Mine' partly on account of its length (though length was not my sole consideration!). Many competitions require 40 lines or less, which rules out (most) epic poems for a start! I think it is sensible to 'know your market' (i.e. take the judges into consideration & any hints or instructions given) in a competition, just as it in when you submit to a magazine. There is always an element of 'risk', but that's the nature of things. I have often heard it said that we write for ourselves. It would be good to think that we write for others, too (or for the sake of the environment, world peace etc.). As in all things, I think a sense of balance is what is required. I submit to magazines and I enter competitions. I find that the two activities go hand in hand.

    The Poetry Society has been running a poll to get voters to choose the 'best of the best' from past National Poetry Comp winners. I found it very interesting to see these winning poems 'side by side'. I also found it surprisingly hard to think about choosing a winner of winners without allowing my personal preferences to surface!

    I think it was Juvenal who felt a compulsion to write in response to the state of things in the world around him.

    At the end of the day, I suspect most (or many) of us would say 'I write because I write'.

  3. Thanks, Coastcard, for your congratulations. And for your comments on entering competitions. And thank you, Mistlethrush, for your comments too.

    I’m trying to remember if it was Sheenagh Pugh who claimed that there’s a specific type of poem which always seems to win competitions and also that there’s an art to writing the ‘perfect’ competition entry… Do either of you think this is the case? Are you aware of a pattern as far as winning entries go? I don’t think I am…I don’t suppose anything overtly experimental would win but otherwise, I’m not sure it’s possible to generalise.

    In the case of the Frogmore Poetry Prize, I tried to pick a poem that I thought might appeal to the adjudicator, since I’m quite familiar with her style. I’m not sure if this technique will ever work again though 🙂

  4. Competitions may not be for everyone, but I have learned so much from them over the years. I entered my first poetry competition in my local 3 Arts festival when I was about 10, and was so encouraged to receive a 'marks sheet' with comments that I have looked out for appealing comps. ever since. (I was thrilled to come third in a flowerpot race once, but this poetry certificate meant the world to me!). I find competitions are a useful target, a way of getting one's work read by new people and sometimes the path to publication in an anthology. I try to vary the competitions I enter: some 'small' (or local), some themed or for a set form – & some totally 'free'. Like Carol, I found judging a very 'educating' experience. Incidentally, I love responding to the poems (& reading the comments made by others) in the 'Readers' Votes' section in 'Reach Poetry'.

  5. This is my third attempt at sending many congratulations. Please ignore this if takes 1 & 2 have arrived already! Where can we read the poem?
    David is very jealous of your trip to Orkney…

  6. I’m even less brave than you. I’ve only ever entered a couple. I tried MsLexia a couple of years ago but got nowhere that I know of.

    I tried The National Poetry Comp a few years ago(because it was free)I was the area winner so got in the anthology but then kept receiving lots of send-us-a-poem-sales-gimmicks so that put me off.

    But I did judge the Carillon Poetry competition last year. That was a really interesting experience and probably taught me why I hadn’t been previously that successful – there’s got to be something about the winner that makes it MEMORABLE. And, being memorable, if it does have technical merit it has a chance.

    I have to say that you and Caroline (of the Gill variety) have inspired me to at least think about entering again.

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