Veni, legim, placuit – I came, I read, I decided

slice from “Dragon Fruit” by Kenny TeohYep, that’s it – I’ve finally selected my winners for the 2013 Takahē Poetry competition. It feels like it’s taken me a very long time, but I’m satisfied with my choices. (I’d better be – I’ve submitted my report and sent the entries back to the competition secretary!)

Picking the two runners-up was actually the hardest. It came down to selecting two poems out of a trio that all had things going for them, as well as against them. In the end I had to trick myself into deciding, by arbitrarily choosing two, and then realising that I couldn’t bare to drop X in favour of Y. (And no, I’m not giving you any hints about who, or what, or why.) I toyed with the idea of making a cento from lines from the shortlisted poems, but I suspect that would be frowned upon …

Actually, writing my report was something of an epic undertaking. I started out ‘just making a few notes’, which ended up running to about five pages. I had a quick squizz back at previous reports and checked the length that had been tactfully recommended as a maximum (why doesn’t anyone give me minimums?) and realised I was going to have to make quite a few cuts. Out came my detailed exegesis on the way in which the competition could be seen as a reflection of the state of poetry and cultural engagement in New Zealand society (no, not really), out came my fulsome waxings on the glories of metrical substitutions as a weapon against simultaneous syntactic laxity and rigidity (again, no, not really), out came my slightly too pointed remarks regarding Rhyme Crimes and Poetical  Clichés (umm, yes, ok that one is true) and so on. Then I realised I hadn’t said anything at all interesting about why I’d picked the winning poem. And believe me, you don’t want to know how long that bit took to edit down to a sensible length. But I did, eventually, get there.

The winners will be announced in the December issue, Takahē 80. I think the results and report are also sent out to entrants who included an SAE for such an eventuality with their entry. It will be interesting to see if Siobhan picks any of the other poems for inclusion in that issue (technically all entries are considered for publication – no idea how often or how many do end up being taken).

Now I just have to try to remember what it was I was meant to be doing with all this spare time and brain-power … I think there was something about a book?


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