I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I still don’t really understand poetry. With fiction, I can read most things and have a decent stab at working out what they’re going on about, however opaque or experimental. But there is a sizeable body of poetry that eludes me completely, and I’m forced into a position where the best I can say is that sometimes I like what I read and sometimes I don’t. I really don’t feel I’m that much above the level of understanding shown in this hilarious exchange on the York Literature Festival / YorkMix poetry competition.
Which is an odd way of introducing the fact that I’ve just won a commended prize in the latest Café Writers competition – one of a dozen prizewinners chosen out of almost 2000. Yes, you read that right. 2000. I still can’t really get my head round it. It’s actually the best competition result I’ve had in years, whether fiction or poetry, and yet I still don’t really feel I know what I’m doing.
The awful truth is that I haven’t actually written a poem for over a year. There are good reasons for this – I’ve been concentrating on my current novel, for one thing – but it still means I feel like a bit of a fraud. I like writing poetry, though, and I’m sure I’ll go back to it soon once the first phase of novel edits are done. And maybe I’ll understand it a bit better one day so I begin to feel like a proper poet.
Oh, and I do like the published prizewinners, by the way – especially ‘Living in Trap Street’, which is wonderful. Take a look.
Well done, Jon. Always nice to be picked out and especially out of such a large group – I hope it inspires you to write more poems!
I feel much the same about poetry as you do – I know what I like but I also know what I don’t ‘get’. When I have the odd poem that does well I can never understand why that one, not another one – big gaps in my literary education I guess!
Interestingly my favourite of the ones published in this comp was the ‘funniest poem’ winner – which I found incredibly sad and moving!! Oh well.
Thank you! Yes, I liked the funniest one too, for the same reasons!
Well. Just goes to show… something.
Ha 🙂 It does.