I don't enter many competitions, but I like to have a go at a few, to provide myself with deadlines, and sometimes just to encourage me to write on a particular theme.
I was delighted, not to say staggered, to get an email just now saying that my poem Hares In December has been selected as the only runner-up in the adult section of the 2007 BBC Wildlife Poet Of The Year competition.
It'll be published in the October issue of BBC Wildlife magazine, and I win a nestbox and a lot of bird-feed!
The email from the editor, Sophie Stafford, says: "Though the entries were strong and plentiful as usual, your poem was unanimously selected by the judges as the only other contender for the winning spot. Though we usually award 3 runners-ups awards, this year, yours will be the only one published.
"They felt your poem held a moment of stillness in a world of movement and trusted the reader to follow your thoughts and the pictures you created."
Blimey! When I say staggered, it's not that I didn't think it was any good (I was pretty happy with it, but didn't think it had a real chance of a prize), just that it was very short, and I used to have the impression (wrongly, it's now clear) that competition judges liked their winners to offer a bit more meat.
I wrote the poem in April as part of NaPoWriMo2007, when we had to write a poem a day for a month. This was the 29th, so I was obviously just hitting my stride as we finished. I was taking as my starting point each day the first song that my iPod's shuffle chose, and this one was sparked by Fairport Convention's The Bonny Black Hare. Here's the lyrics of that song - proof that thinly-veiled sexual references and double entendres aren't the exclusive preserve of modern music!