Competition Report – NPD2018 24-Hour Poem

Well that’s it all done and dusted for Poetry Day. I’ve submitted my reports to the organiser (Hi Harley!), given all the entrants a chance to read the winning poems and to select their choice from a shortlist of ten, and sent the swag off to the lucky (and frighteningly-talented) winners. I know there are plenty of you out there who didn’t take part in the competition but who would like to read the winning poems, but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until they appear in magazine and so on. The reason for this is pretty simple: I want them to be able to go out into the world and get published, and the question of whether or not a poem appearing on a blog counts as “previously published” or not is a bit of a quagmire. Every journal has its own criterion, but sharing the poems privately (which is what limited access behind a password counts as) is definitely fine. Think of this as one of the perks for those who registered for the comp, even if they didn’t managed to write and submit a poem to the competition itself. (Nudge nudge.)

General Comments

For your reference, the ten words set for the comp were: architecture, blinds, bundle, fluent, grain, insurrection,  sleeve, stopper, unfamiliarity and voltage. Some people loved them, some hated them, and I was genuinely impressed by the way they were used. We ended up a fair few poems being about birth or pregnancy (from “bundle”, presumably); a reasonably even split between those using “blinds” as a noun and those using it as a verb; more people using “grain” in the textural rather than agricultural sense; and some serious innovation in the use of “stopper”. (Including at least two using “stopper-knot”, which wasn’t a thing I knew about before this.)

Of the 119 people who registered for the competition, 87 managed to get a poem in by the deadline. One person sent their poem in half an hour late, a couple contacted me afterwards to gnash their teeth about having written the poem and then for a variety of reasons nat managing to send it in, and a few people got the day wrong and tried to enter things on the Saturday. I have no idea what the attrition rate is for the CV2 competition, but the numbers feel about right to me. So that‘s good. The system basically worked.

The frustrating thing was the twenty-odd people who ruled themselves out by not paying attention and not actually reading the rules. Two people didn’t include all ten words. Thee people put poems in that were too long. And a frankly mind-boggling seventeen people put their names on their poems, which is always a no-no in a competition. I can only assume it was brain-fade caused by the time pressure, because at least a couple of these people are friends of mine, who very definitely know better. (You twits!) So, for the record: READ THE COMPETITION RULES, AND FOLLOW THEM.  Whilst you can contact an editor if you muck something up with a submission (although it does nothing to make you look professional), with a competition you get just one shot. Your first attempt is the only one that counts, no exceptions. In summary – argh.

The Results

The winner was a really lovely poem – Celeste, by Angela Halie. A poem about a miscarriage that managed to be heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. She managed to get it written and in by 10.42 pm.

The runner-up was Stephanie Mayne’s Arum Lilies. Almost haiku-esque in the way it used imagery. Striking and beautiful and unlike anything else. (Written and submitted by 7.26 pm.)

The Organiser’s Husband’s Choice was Quarrel on a bus by Jac Jenkins. Funny and thought-provoking at the same time. (I had it on my shortlist too, so was pleased it was chosen.) Jac had it submitted by 8.18 pm.

The Entrants’ Choice was something I decided to throw in at the last minute. So many people had said they were looking forward to seeing what other people had come up with that I decided it was only fair, so I put up a shortlist of ten further poems and gave everyone who’d registered for the competition a chance to pick their favourite. By a decent margin the votes went to Two-dozen frantic hours by Semira Davis. A sexy poem that had some real depth behind the playfulness. And to cap it all off, it was also the first poem that arrived – at 12.41 am. (Sigh…)


So there you have it. One competition, twenty-four hours of chaos, and four winners. I really hope I start seeing poems from this competition appearing in journals about the place – let me know if you do! Be nice to see where they all end up.

If you would like to boost the chances of this going ahead again next year, do make a point of clicking on the links to the publishers to let them know that supporting the competition was a good investment in publicity. Ideally go and buy something while you’re there – support New Zealand poetry, and publishers like Anahera Press, Auckland University Press, Cold Hub Press, Otago University Press, and Victoria University Press. (Go on, you know you want to. You can tell everyone I made you do it.)



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