The Prize-winning Poem

The Prize-winning Poem

It will be typed, of course, and not all in capitals: it will use upper

and lower case

in the normal way; and where a space is usual it will have a space.

It will probably be on white paper, or possibly blue, but almost

certainly not pink.

It will not be decorated with ornamental scroll-work in coloured ink,

nor will a photograph of the poet be glued above his or her name,

and still less a snap of the poet’s children frolicking in a jolly game.

The poem will not be about feeling lonely and being fifteen

and unless the occasion of the competition is a royal jubilee it will

not be about the queen.

It will not be the first poem the author has written in his life

and will probably not be about the death of his daughter, son or wife

because although to write such elegies fulfils a therapeutic need

in large numbers they are deeply depressing for the judges to read.

The title will not be ‘Thoughts’ or ‘Life’ or ‘I Wonder Why’

or ‘The Bunny-rabbit’s Birthday Party’ or ‘In Days of Long Gone By’.

‘Tis and ‘twas, o’er and e’er, and such poetical contractions will not be

found

in the chosen poem. Similarly cliche´s will not abound:

dawn will not herald another bright new day, nor dew sparkle like

diamonds in a dell,

nor trees their arms upstretch. Also the poet will be able to spell.

Large meaningless concepts will not be viewed with favour: myriad is

out;

infinity is becoming suspect; aeons and galaxies are in some doubt.

Archaisms and inversions will not occur; nymphs will not their fate

bemoan.

Apart from this there will be no restrictions upon the style or tone.

What is required is simply the masterpiece we’d all write if we could.

There is only one prescription for it: it’s got to be good.

 

Fleur Adcock

 

Adcock, Fleur (1983) Selected Poems, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Author: BlueFalcon1983

YA Writer and illustrator

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