Have you ever entered a poetry competition? If you are a closet poet it’s a great way to test yourself.
Winning poems have a few things in common. The poem should have a cracking opening. You want the judge’s attention straight away. The second is that the last lines should make the judge hold her breath or at least send her away to reflect. The lines in the middle are fillers but they must be poetic – some images, clever word play but most of all you must be convincing. If there’s a twist that’s a bonus.
Finally, you need a good title. Titles like “Spring” or “Walking the Dog” won’t cut it.
Here are some examples from a really good poem, “A Leisure Centre is also a Temple of Learning” by Sue Boyle. I bet that title gets your attention!
The opening lines are:
The honey coloured girl in the woman’s changing room
is absorbed in making her body more beautiful
Does that suck you in? The poem discusses the change in the female form as twelve women watch a beautiful girl in the dressing room. The twist in the poem is: “She is so much younger than the rest of us” so you can imagine their feelings.
The last lines are memorable:
She should look around.
We twelve are the chorus.
We know what happens next.
So now, over to you. Everyone has a poem in them and this is your opportunity to get it on to paper and work on it. We have a competition each year in Swindon which closes on 30th June: www.batteredmoons.com Give it a go!
First published in Swindon Link magazine