Monday, 4 February 2008

Ploughing on...

The results of the 2007 Plough Prize have been announced, and you can read the winners and comments by the judge, Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, on the website.

It's a competition that goes from strength to strength, not least because it offers entrants an awful lot for their entry fee, I think. This year, every poem entered got a tickbox critique, and for a small extra fee, you could get a full critique (and take it from me, they're excellent).

I was involved in doing some of the long and shortlisting this year, and in doing tickbox critiques, and thoroughly enjoyed the process, not least because it made me think hard about what makes a poem work, or at least what makes a poem work for me. It also surprised me just how many poems were in the 'nearly, but not quite there' category. That is, they were spoiled only by one seemingly small factor, which nevertheless proved impossible to ignore. Usually, it was a failure of nerve on the poet's part, and a consequent tendency to overstate their case or signpost what they saw as the significant parts of the poem. But on the whole, I think it was encouraging to see just how much good work was submitted.

I spent the weekend on the sofa, deciding that taking it easy was the best bet after all this kidney infection brouhaha. As a result, I did no birding, but I did write an awful lot (about time, after a pretty thin January), and read most of Byron Rogers' splendid biography of RS Thomas, of which much more later in the week.

Finally, a thank-you to PJ Nolan for plugging my chapbook on his blog, PJ Nolan Online, which is my recommended browsing for today.


Ben Wilkinson said...

A couple of longlisted entries and I regret submitting the poems I did. In the end, I wasn't too impressed with the winner, though the restraint and emotional economy of Alex Porter's Still Life was an impressive and well-deserved silver.

Matt Merritt said...

I didn't come across any entries by anyone I knew (perhaps a good job), although there were a few names that I recognised. I must say I rather like the winner, but Still Life could easily have pipped it to the post, I think.

PJ Nolan said...

Hey, thanks for the mention mat! Looking forward to perusing the Plough winners etc. Great that they treat entrants with respect and consideration.