Dunedin’s young poets shine
Judge’s report by Sue Wootton
51 poems were entered in this competition. It was wonderful to see this enthusiastic response from young writers in our community. The standard of writing overall was impressively high. We want to nurture this talent and look forward to reading even more entries in next year’s competition.
Wordsworth said that the poet’s craft is a matter of putting “the best words in the best order”. The winning poems all show that quality. To use a musical analogy, each is well-tuned for the particular song it wants to sing.
Several poems were especially striking, and have been highly commended. The three winning poems were works that stretched things to a more demanding level, linguistically, poetically and philosophically. Congratulations to everyone who is mentioned here. Thanks to every poet who entered, and to all the teachers who encouraged them to do so.
- “A violin solo” by Ellen Waite (Year 10 Columba College). Beautifully captures the sweet ache of powerful music.
- “Duteous” by Josephine Devereux (Year 13 Logan Park High School). Succinct, brutal writing to make a brutal point.
- “Life is fun” by Christen Jellone (Year 9 Taieri College). Great spacing and line breaks which enhance the upbeat energy of the poem’s words.
- “The obligation” by Josephine Devereux (Year 13 Logan Park High School). Prose poem which offers an intense but well-controlled glimpse of the true nature of a relationship.
- “We’ll cross that bridge” by Abigail Nardo (Year 10 Logan Park High School). A poem that wittily refreshes an old metaphor.
3rd place: “A man’s world” by Jacobi Kohu-Morris (Year 12 Logan Park High School). This poem’s witty and ironic images deconstruct and de-sanitise a historical moment, opening it up for new interpretations.
2nd place: “Gracious” by Molly Crighton (Year 9 Columba College). “Gracious” is a sophisticated sonnet with great control of rhyme and rhythm, and an elegant feel which fits its theme beautifully.
1st place: “Keeping up appearances” by Josephine Devereux (Year 13 Logan Park High School). Intelligent and tightly-written, this poem questions values, destabilises word meanings, and turns on a burning core.
Keep an eye out for the three winners’ poems, which will be appearing on posters distributed to shops, libraries and all Dunedin intermediate and secondary schools in Dunedin (thanks to Dunedin Public Library for that). You can also download PDFs of the posters from this website.
The winners and highly commended poets will take part in a public poetry reading compered by Sue Wootton, with Vincent O’Sullivan, Owen Marshall, Helen Rickerby and Emma Neale at the Dunedin Public Library on National Poetry Day, Friday 22 August 2014, 6-7.30pm. The event is free. Gather up your friends and family and join us to celebrate National Poetry Day.
The three winning poets will each receive a $50 book token from the University Book Shop.
Entries were judged blind by award-winning New Zealand poet Sue Wootton. For more information about Sue, visit her website at suewootton.nz.