Thanks to Martin Parker for his commiserations on my complete absence of success in the main Strokestown Poetry prize this year, the shortlist of which has just been announced.
I had submitted two really strong poems, which I was sure would have the judges beating paths to my front door to congratulate me on my poetical ability. These were my knock-dead thump in the gut poems that I had saved for months to submit to Strokestown.
Sadly, not only does my name not appear among the ten chosen few but neither of the poem's titles features in the rather extensive list of also-rans and nearly-not-quite-made-its. Oh dear, a hefty dose of reality.
The thing that jumps out in the list is the fact that nine of the shortlisters are from England. The other is from California. Not only does this not give us a chance to cheer on the local boy (or girl) but it makes you wonder at the state of Irish poetry. On the other hand, I recognise a few of those names as poetry judges in their own right and as such, they would have a good insight into what judges look for in a poem. Me, I still don't know what constitutes a good poem - I only know what I like myself.
In a strange way, the bizarre geographical spread (or lack of it) validates the competition, I think. If any other criteria of judging had been used apart from poetical worth, then you wouldn't have had such a one-sided result. I just hope we (and I'm secretly using the royal 'we' here) are able to fight back next year.
The humorous verse results haven't been announced yet. The more I think about my own submissions, the less confident I feel of making the cut there too. Oh well, I'll say the locals will be glad of the chance not to listen to me this year!