Time to announce the winners
2015 Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) poetry competition
Carolyn McCurdie has read over 350 poems, and then read them again and again, keeping in mind her own criteria plus a few words of requirement from me! She had no idea whose work she was looking at as I removed all sign of ownership on the poems that slipped into the competition complete with names! Any letters, drawings and photos were also kept in my care so she was totally in the dark re age, sex, occupation, and experience of the poets. Carolyn has done a fantastic job.
The winners have all been notified, their prizes are in the post, and I’ve emailed everyone, who provided me with an email address, to let them know the results are out. Many thanks to: Otago University Press, Paul Bernard of L J Hooker Ltd, and Otago University Bookshop for providing monetary prizes and book vouchers for our 2015 competition.
The winning poems will appear in the winter edition of the Poems in the Waiting Room poetry card. I intend spending the weekend going through all submissions and selecting any which might be suitable for a future PitWR edition. I’ll be in touch with those poets early next week.
And now the results:
Otago University Press First Prize: ‘The Indigo Parade” by Leslie McKay from Lewis Pass.
Paul Bernard from L J Hooker Second Prize: ” Watermelon wine” by Kath Beattie from Dunedin.
Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) Third Prize: “The Girl Who Sings Islands” by Catherine Fitchett from Christchurch.
Otago University Bookshop Best unplaced Dunedin poet: ” The Visit” by Elizabeth Pulford.
Many thanks to everyone who entered the competition. Your support will help Poems in the Waiting Room continue to provide free seasonal poetry cards to medical waiting rooms, rest homes, prisons and hospices.
These poems were good company. The poets spoke of love and family, of the natural world and of the wisdoms that impact on their lives. Some contributions arose from experiences in the Canterbury earthquakes. I found these brave and moving.
There was much here that showed originality, sometimes just in the choice of a word, or an arresting phrase, and sometimes in the whole conception of the poem. In these cases I felt that the poet had made an important start in their development as a writer. There was the promise here that if the poet learned craftsmanship, learned to re-work and re-work, to delete the pedestrian and to follow only what sings, some wonderful poetry could be the result.
Because work is essential. Writing a good poem is not easily done, and an excellent poem even more difficult. Behind the art, the craft of an effective piece is years of work, practice, and some kind of apprenticeship to the great poets of the world, past and present, by reading their work over and over. Poetry must be heard, felt, loved. It must be read so often and widely that the music of it gets into your breathing and then, if you have developed your ear, might enter into words of your own. It’s a magic, mysterious process. And exciting. To anyone beginning, I would say, well done and welcome. Keep reading. Keep writing.
And of course, many of these poets demonstrated that they know this at least as well, if not better, than I do. The sifting, selecting, and then reading and re-reading my favourites was an intense pleasure. Then I had a pile of nine. At that point it became difficult because all were good poems and then I just had to accept that my own personal preferences had to rule. The subjectivity is just how it has to work. As every judge’s report I have ever read points out, a different judge would have different preferences. So these are the poems that fill me with delight and admiration.
Thank you for the privilege