Poetry Is Not For Wimps

poet is the amen

She said in no uncertain terms, “I hate poetry, it simply bores me and is for wimps”.

Then she wrote a poem since she had an ocean of words to tell her story, and it felt overwhelming, so she thought to try her hand at telling the truth, stripped down and naked through a poem.

She wrote another poem and sent it for me to read. She published that poem. Then she wrote a third poem and read it out loud to a group of writers. Everyone sat stunned.

Not a wimp in that room.

Most people feel like poetry is a breed unto itself, a woman’s preference, a form that does not demand as much as a novel or a memoir from the craftsman. Think again.

Poetry doesn’t have to conform to limits or formats. Poems can be as long as a book, such as Paradise Lost, or simply two lines long, like Ezra Pound’s In a Station of the Metro. It can be 300 pages long as in the revolutionary Dante’s Inferno. Poems don’t have to rhyme or follow any kind of structure or they can be rigidly formatted. Poetry is limitless in its possibilities. For many, poetry is probably the most flexible literary genre.

Introduction to Poetry—Billy Collins

 I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide                                                  or press an ear against its hive.                                                                                                                     I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem’s room and feel the walls for a light switch.                                                                                                   I want them to waterski across the surface of a poem waving at the author’s name on the shore.                                                                                                                                                               But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it.       They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means.

billy collins

For those writing 250 pages of something they may get lost in, or have dropped the thread and are trying to stitch the chapters together, stop. Open a new Word Document and try a poem that captures the heart of the book you are writing. It will rearrange the furniture of your thinking so that when you go back to your novel or memoir, or your non-fiction piece of brilliance, you have new crisp eyes to see with. Or maybe like our woman who hates poetry, you will discover the power of your own words in a new way.

And then again, just listen to a bit of poetry that sends your body into a visceral convulsion that rearranges your very cellular nature.   When you hear this poem read by its author, Dominique Christina, winner of the Women of the World Poetry Award, I assure you, you may think differently about a poem from this moment on. This poem is NOT for wimps.

Writer’s and Competition

A writer is up against thousands of other writers who hope for, work for and dream of the same thing:  Getting published.  Getting recognized.  Having some acknowledgement for their labors of love.   Writing competitions are a great way to hone your skills, beef up your writing muscle and get a bit of a thicker skin in the world of writing.  And you can make money if you put your shoulder to the wheel.  Competitions make you get very detailed and concise, they make you edit better, and they offer you a community of people who can give you feedback in some cases.  You can win a chance to have a publisher publish your work, you can get an editor, win cash prizes, win writing paraphernalia that you might not afford otherwise and a myriad of other things.  But most of all you get to practice your art and by conforming to the guidelines of any competition you can be more focused and dig deep into your own creativity.  So, this competition is one of the largest prizes in short story competition.  Dive in.  Get out there.  Be brave. Write.

The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award: $38,000 Grand Prize

The most valuable prize for short stories is now open to submissions. Created by a bank magnate and a newspaper publisher, the prize is worth £30,000, or $38,000 in U.S. dollars

The deadline for this year’s contest is September 28th, 2017.

As we wrote last year, you have to do a bit of legwork to be eligible for the contest. Primarily, you need to participate in the U.K. or Ireland literary community by publishing a short story by an “established” publisher in the region. This may mean you need to plan on entering next year’s contest, focusing on getting published this year. That seems to be a big part of the goal of the contest; to encourage participation in the U.K. literary scene by writers around the world.

If you’re not a U.K. citizen, don’t worry. Most of the winners have come from abroad. They seem to truly want to encourage diverse writers from around the world to participate in the contest.

According to their website:

“The prize, worth £30,000 to the winner, is an international award, founded in 2010, that is open to any story of up to 6,000 words written in English. Stories need to have been either previously unpublished or only published after 31 December 2016. Five other authors shortlisted for the award will each receive £1,000. The prize is administered by the Society of Authors. To be eligible, the author must simply have a record of prior publication in creative writing in the United Kingdom or Ireland..”

The deadline to submit is September 28th, 2017. Be sure to read the complete rules before submitting, to make sure that you are eligible.

To learn more, read this page.