What a pleasure it was to judge the Poetry Society’s 2020 Stanza Poetry Competition. From nearly 400 entries I had to choose 13 – a Winner, two joint Runners-up and ten Commended.
It was fascinating to read and mull on all the poems. Here’s an extract from my Judge’s report:
Poems are so often visual – reading nearly 400 poems where sound, or lack of sound, was the focus was fascinating. There were many birds, conversations, tinnitus, the unsaid or misheard, onomatopoeic poems, poems aware of their own music, and poems interrogating the rarely heard sounds or enforced silences of lockdown. It was absorbing to enter each and every world submitted.
So how did I select the winners?
I chose poems that moved me, that stayed with me. I chose poems I thought worked beautifully or differently or with integrity and insistence. Ones I thought other readers might connect with too. I mulled on technical skill, risk, framing, how the poem runs – from the title, entry point to the poem and how it ‘lands’ at the end – whether softly, loudly, an opening out, a closing down. Does it withstand repeated reading or give all its energy up on first take? Do I end up carrying it in my head days after I read it.
Each of the poems achieves its effects in quite different ways. Congratulations to all of the winners.