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2020 Poetry Results

Poetry Competition

2020 'Poetic Licence'  Poetry Competition

Judges Report & Results
(Full List of Award Winners can be accessed here.)

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In this 9th year of our poetry competition, the entries have yet again succeeded in surprising and entertaining the judges with both the variety of subjects and modes of expression.
As always, we conferred beforehand to set standards for each category, only those entries meeting these standards making it to consideration for the short lists. To this end, each poem was read twice, once to absorb the poem as a whole, a second time to assess it for the benchmarks set previously.
Some flowed like warm honey, others were sharp as the edges of broken glass while still others made us smile but the eventual short list all had several things in common – freshness of approach, originality and exceptional use of language, clarity of purpose, and the avoidance of all the old traps of clichés, overblown phrases and obscurity of expression.
However there can only be one winner and one runner-up in each category, along with certificates for those who were too good to pass by without mention. Sadly, some entries which were worthy contenders had to be set aside.

Traditional Verse

Traditional verse covers many different styles, several of which appeared in our competition. Each style has its own unique requirements of rhyme, rhythm, repetition and structure and it is vital to check these carefully before venturing to construct your poem. Failure to meet these makes for speed bumps and potholes in the reading of the work when it should be smooth travelling. Have someone other than yourself who understands these requirements read the work aloud for you, to hear what you may have missed.
Beyond all that, avoid the trap of being so caught up in getting the mechanics right, you lose the flow of the poem itself. A perfectly written traditional verse, no matter what its style is a delight to read and hear.

First PrizeMigration of the Bar-Tailed Godwits  by David Atkinson.
(Can be viewed here)
This sonnet immediately caught the eye of both judges for its exceptional use of language. From the first line, we were flying with this small bird as it armed itself for the flight across hemispheres to reach breeding grounds. It was one of those rare poems where not a single word could be replaced or deleted to improve the finished result. Well done.

Second PrizeJumping to Conclusions   by David Judge.
(Can be viewed here)
A bush verse in the style of Banjo Paterson’s ballads, this tells the story of a miscarriage of justice and its outcome for a young shearer. It takes hold of the reader’s attention in the first line and draws them steadily on, not letting go until the final line, when justice is finally served. The steady, unvarnished use of language is eminently suitable for the story and well deserving of the prize.

Highly CommendedThe Morning After  by Vicky Harrold.
A beautiful villanelle of the aftermath of a storm, it left the judges with the sense of an analogy riding beneath it, of an emotional storm. An extra syllable causing a minor speed bump was the only fault here, otherwise a pleasure to read.

Highly CommendedSonnet Of The Fire by David Atkinson.
In this exceptional sonnet, the poet brings a fresh approach to the subject of a man fighting a bushfire. With the fire depicted as a living thing, it describes a battle between two opponents, each determined to win. The language is sharp and sparse, in keeping with the subject matter. Well done.

CommendedLullaby  by Mocco Wollert.  
This sweetly simple verse of short quatrains is a perfect example of the lullabies we would sing to ease a child into sleep. It is gentle, unadorned in its language, so a child or even a stressed adult could sigh and be soothed by the hearing.   

CommendedI've Never Won A Raffle  by Caroline Tuohey.
A tongue-in-cheek lament on the author’s poor luck in taking part in raffles. With no intent to be clever or crafty, it was pure entertainment and much appreciated as such. The perfect rhyme and rhythm made it a pleasure to read, while also making the judges laugh.  

Free Verse

All good poetry should leave a footprint in the mind of the reader, otherwise it has failed to communicate and is quickly forgotten. Deciding first and second among equals is a daunting task but certain qualities were sought by the judges in selecting the list of place-getters in this section.
These were originality of subject matter and its treatment, the avoidance of clichés, well-trodden ground and over-blown language. The most important point however, was the treatment of line-breaks, poetry’s default punctuation. To end a line with a preposition (on, at, in, from, etc.) or a conjunction (and, or, but, of, etc.) is to effectively put a full stop in the middle of a sentence. Yes, there is such a thing as enjambment, but only at the end of a phrase or thought. To do otherwise is to stray dangerously close to the territory of fractured prose.
A well-crafted free verse invites the reader to come and stand by the poet’s side, to see and hear what they do, then draw their own conclusions. Each of the poems on the eventual list of award winners did just this, each one leaving a footprint in the judges’ minds.


First Prize –  Confessions   by Yvonne Deering.
(Can be viewed here)
This startling poem caught the attention of the individual judges from the first line and held it to the very last. Its structure, with short lines and broken verses, carried the breathless quality of shock and horror, guilt and remorse that the subject required. It is one of those rare poems where not a single word could be removed, added or replaced to improve it.

Second PrizeA Dipped-In-Ink Pen   by Judith Green.
(Can be viewed here)
An equally arresting poem, but with a very different flow, is this entry bringing an interesting slant to the issue of writing verse. It is a gentle musing, engaging the listener in the process, leaving both judges glad to have been so challenged.


Highly Commended Surfers, Bells Beach  by Avril Bradley.
An entertaining commentary on that committed crew, surfboard riders, at Australia’s iconic Bells Beach. The poet is obviously well-acquainted with the breed, as she conveys the scene beautifully. Excellent use of language, the ending making the judges smile.

Highly CommendedTheir Mouths  by Agi Dobson
A well-crafted poem, the mood of sharp edges beautifully conveyed by the choice of language used. We are right there with the poet as the bullies close in, sharing her fear and despair. A memorable poem.


Commended –  Glass Bridge, China  by Shane McCauley.
A tongue-in-cheek account of the experience of this famous bridge, bringing to the fore all our fears about heights and falling and the mind-bending experience of seemingly walking on air. Highly entertaining.

Commended —  Once Were Frogs  by Jenny Macaulay.
An unusual and subtle slant on the damage to the environment by tourists. The language is spare and sad, but avoids all the usual clichés and well-trodden ground of other poems on this subject, the point being so subtly made that it isn’t until the final verse that the message is clear. A most interesting take on the subject.

The judges would like to thank all the entrants for trusting us with your work. To all those whose names are missing from this list, please remember any response to poetry is intensely personal and thus comes down to the judges’ choices. Consider checking over your poem again to be sure it’s the best it can be and submit it elsewhere for a more favourable result. Above all, don’t give up but keep writing, improving as you go.  

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