Blogs by John Howard Reid
6/13/2009 11:03:01 PM
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I suppose it’s a sign of tough economic times that entries for the annual Margaret Reid Prize for Traditional Verse (closes June 30) are down so far on the 2008 level. Of course, there’s always a burst of last-minute entries. We need just another hundred or so to put us over the line. That’s bound to happen, so we’ll still break even after paying out the $5,350 prize money. We may not have enough money left to pay the judge (me!), but that’s a small problem.
On the other hand, entries for the Tom Howard Poetry Contest for Verse in All Styles and Genres (closes September 30) are running strong. In fact they’re currently at much the same level as the corresponding period in 2008.
Why the difference? The prize money and entry fees are exactly the same.
My theory is that many potential entrants are put off by the title “traditional verse”. Most people think of sonnets and odes, Shakespeare and Shelley, Coleridge and Keats, Longfellow and Tennyson, Browning and Poe, Byron and Wordsworth, when they see the word, “traditional”.
On the other hand, “traditional” to me conjures up the poetry of Christopher Smart (died 1771), Gerard Manley Hopkins (died 1889), Walt Whitman (died 1892), T.E. Hulme (died 1917), Isaac Rosenberg (died 1918), T.S. Eliot, Stephen Spender, D.H. Lawrence, etc., all of whom wrote Free Verse.
So to me, Traditional = Free verse!
Of course, sonnets, odes, haiku, sestinas and the like are also “traditional”, although I myself use none of these overly structured forms. I prefer free verse.
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