Monday, July 26, 2010

Breaking all the rules

Thanks to Peter G for posting up this list of poetry rules:

"Don't use large or unconventional fonts.
Think carefully if you intend to centralise your poem, as this might come across as unconsidered and ill thought out.
Photographs, hand drawn illustrations or clip art images tend to lower the tone of an entry.
Consider your use of italic and bold text. Poems written completely in italics or bold for no reason tend to read clumsily.
Keep the presentation of your poems as neutral and neat as possible.
For the most part it is suggested that you avoid epigraphs or footnotes explaining the poem - a poem should stand alone without these.
Abstract nouns in the title or first line of a poem can be off putting, they cannot be visualised and can make the poem difficult to grasp.
Pretentious asides or instructions that try to 'tell' the reader how the poem should be read should be avoided.
Coloured paper or other novel ways of presenting your poem will not benefit your entry. Judges much prefer to see something that is neatly and professionally presented.
When you think your poem is finished and perfectly polished, read through every line and word and think 'Do I really need you?'.
Try reading your entry aloud to yourself. This might help you pick up on any snags or rhythmic glitches. The judges may well read entries aloud to each other, so a poem that 'feels right' in the mouth will have a greater chance of success.
The judges are on the side of the poem. If the judges feel that the poet has misjudged the poem's tone or 'let in' too many lines then they will put the work aside."

It's been tough but I think I've broken them all here


The Fantastic Winning Poem

I scribble, queitly

Wanting to win

The competition

Sighing to myself

Meaningfully

(This next bit should be whispered)

And what if I’m not

Goooooood enough?

For who? For you?

It’s not me you’re judging,

It’s this poem

(Then back to normal volume)

Do I need you?

Do I really need you?

I do hope this feels alright in your mouth

Say it

In your mouth

(this was a clip art image of a cow)

Footnote: This poem is written and presented with the intent of breaking all the rules laid down by the judges in the UK Poetry competition, in an attempt to see if they were right. Please imagine on a bright yellow background as I failed to get that over.



18 comments:

Doctor FTSE said...

Dare I suggest you have missed a rule?

Don't leave half a dozen blank lines between each 2-line or sometimes 1-line "stanza" or you "poem" Your readers can't be arsed to scroll down it all.

jinksy said...

I'm not particularly in favour of any rule but this one - COMMON SENSE! A good helping of it will go a long way to producing a better result, no matter which other rules you abide by.

NanU said...

I especially like your breaking of the unmentioned 'no typo' rule. Exceptionally clever!

Gwei Mui said...

I love it I'm all for breaking rules :)

Erratic Thoughts said...

OMG! Thanx Niamh, Peter for these.
Hmm your effort to break them needs a big applaud!
I liked your poem btw,the part that I could decipher :)

the watercats said...

LOL!... every poem should have a clip art image of a cow shouldn't it! I thought that was a given! what happened to poetry being art? should you not be able to present your poem in whatever way you think your poem would benefit, as it is something that comes directly from YOUR soul as opposed to anyone elses... you don't see people telling damian hurst that he shouldn't use formaldehyde or real human skulls when presenting his art do you?...(maybe you do)..

swiss said...

a fine idea. and well executed! i may have to try this....

Doctor FTSE said...

I think Peter G's point is . . If you want folk to read your poem, don't put them off before they've started down the page. The same sort of "rule" applies in the story/novel . . . if you don't catch the readers in the first paragraph, you've lost them. They won't analyse why they gave up on your efforts. They'll just go read another book.

Enchanted Oak said...

This is a case where I must use the acronym LMAO! The cow is the icing on the cake. Lovely goldenrod paper, too.

LilyS said...

Rules are made to be broken - and you did so with style! love it :)

Rachel Fox said...

Yes! A whole movement of us breaking their damned annoying rules! Together brothers and sisters we can stop poetry being so DULL and well-behaved!
x

Niamh B said...

Dr, apparently you do dare, but I didn't write the rules, so I don't mind you correcting them one bit!
Tks Jinksy, it's a good rule, but hard to keep in mind sometimes!
Tks NanU - yes - all typos in my blog are fiendishly clever, bear that in mind for future refs.
Gwei - I'm actually a total woos for rule breaking, I'll only do it in a controlled atmosphere. lol
Thanks Erratic Thoughts, it is very deep really, so if you got any of it you're doing better than most.
Watercats, I know, so many poems have been ruined for lack of cow clip art. and yes on the art front, otherwise it's just... marketing
Tks Swiss - oh do, oh everyone should! Call it a meme... go on go on go on
Doctor FTSE - Ah I know - there definitely is value in being aware of the rules and thinking about why they have been suggested, and yeah - in everything if you lose the audience it's just marketing without a budget.
Enchanted Oak - please do tell? LMAO? and thanks.
Tks Lily! They are. As a good friend once said "It's easier to apologise than get permission"
Tis true Rachel!! All we've to lose is our brains!!

Helen said...

Maybe I should go back and re-read everything I've ever written ~~ on second thought, maybe no.

Domestic Oub said...

You should try submitting this to The Bovine Times, it's niche, but you now, what with the clip art... and they are known for being rebels, to hell with the rules, they moo...

Niamh B said...

Oub, I was actually going to submit it for the poetry review club whatever it is competition, once I manage to print it out on the proper yellow paper, and include all these comments for context, I think it's gonna be a pretty difficult one to put in the no pile, esp if I can odorize it for added panache.
Plus Bovine Times will only take unpublished stuff, they're very strict, even blogging counts. Sigh.

Niamh B said...

oh and helen, of course you should, but only to enjoy what you've done, celebrate it! It's your own unique achievement

Dominic said...

Great poem - it's a good poem pretending to be a bad one. However, every word counts - I'm not sure you actually broke the rule that says one should delete redundant words or lines. Looking at the repetitions, you probably tried to: but the repetitions work!

I actually think the list of rules is a pretty good one.

Niamh B said...

Thanks Dominic, and yep, I kinda agree... but likewise I think that if we all followed tips too closely we'd be in danger of never allowing ourselves outta the box.
see Rachel's great post of yesterday for more on that!