Saturday, February 09, 2008
The Manchester Poetry Prize
MMU's writing school has just announced a poetry prize, closing date in September, for which you submit a portfolio of poems - to be followed next year, and perhaps of more interest to me, by a fiction prize. Though laudable, and with a substantial prize, £10,000, I was intrigued reading the small print, that the "portfolio" is between 3 and 5 poems, up to a maximum of 120 lines. With an entrance fee of £15, I guess its all right for the sonneteer, not so for the balladeer; and the long poem I wrote this week breaks the limits all on its own. On poetry competitions generally, I've not much confidence, having never come close to being shortlisted. There's something of a lottery about them, a winner takes all mentality, that's perhaps a little too competitive, that seems almost antithetical to what makes a good poem. Worth a punt, but nothing more. In this instance, the international nature of the competition and the high profile institution awarding it, will no doubt lead to them being swamped with entries. When I've been choosing poems myself either to send somewhere or to include in a magazine, I'm a bit like Philip Larkin, who, when asked how he chose which poems of his own to include in an anthology, said he would pick 'n' mix, one funny, one sad, one long, one short; but I'd imagine here that the judges will be looking for the consistency of work, so send in your very best.