What makes a winning poem? I recently went to the Hut Poetry, the last for the year, and they had a competition for the best two poems. A pair of judges sat and listened, deliberated then gave the decision. Bottles of wine were the prizes.

As an audience member it was very interesting to compare what I considered were the best, and what were chosen. It reinforces that selecting a 'winner', in this case two, is so very subjective.

It was not an easy job for the judges. There were so much good work on offer. And a huge variety in delivery and genre. There were light hearted narratives- there were reminisces of childhood- well observed poems that described everything from Uluru - to the simplicity of a man and his dog walking a street.

In this case the detail was what grabbed the judges attention. These poems were more 'page' oriented works than delivered as spoken word. They forced you to listen...made you appreciate the wrangling of words.

Often in spoken word the detail is lost. Over looked for the theatrical.

Interestingly enough there were also a lot of poems dealing with death. In this case, all were involving parents. Some were seen through the eyes of a child, some as an adult looking back...but in all cases there was this attempt to understand.

Poetry to me, is all about wanting to understand.

I also enjoyed the offerings of the 'young' ones ( showing my age here). They are the ones versed in spoken word. They bring a musical quality to their work, often a hip hop styling - complete with rhymes, their bodies swaying as they lose themselves in their work.

As I sat and listened to over twenty poets I had no idea how the judges could decide on two out all the work delivered that afternoon. Yet they did.

One winning poem was a death poem but combined with the darkness were sparks of humour. The other 'winner' was one of the detailed page poems.
If I were a judge, would I have chosen them? What were the criteria for the judging? Or is it once again, a matter of taste.

If they looked at this picture what would the judges have seen?
The flowers in their pastel glory?
The dark vase with just a hint of colour?
The bottle- half country blue floral, half cool metallic?
Or as I'm always drawn to - the empty birdcage?

Choosing a 'winner' is always a difficult job. And the more I see and hear and listen to, the more I understand that it is all so subjective.




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