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This post is about a month late for a couple of reasons, I’ve been super busy and not reading as much online (especially with paywalls on newspapers, I have been reading far less news online and relying on BBC Radio 4 instead). The second reason is that it’s quite a different post than I first imagined.

For anyone who was reading this blog a couple of months ago I entered my poem “Free Flight into the Wordless” in the New York Times annual Found Poetry competition. To enter you had to write a poem using the words of an article from the NYT. I was really excited to try because the age limit is 25 so this is the last year I could enter and I love the idea. In fact I love the idea so much that I have been writing more found poems. I am still thinking about doing them as a regular part of my poetry writing.

It’s a brilliant idea. Sadly due to said paywalls I had stopped checking in with the NYTimes so often (although I should say the Found Poem section is free) and I had read most of the entries while they were coming in so I wasn’t missing too much. I was also certain from reading these entries that I stood no chance, there were some incredible poets writing and the judges had a great number to read through. I had however forgotten to check back to see who the winners were, which I was hugely interested in. I also wanted to check in to make sure that the competition was over so I could post the poem I had written for it on here once the winners had been announced.

Had a huge shock last night to see this article sitting there, saying that my poem had been chosen as one of the eleven winners of the competition. There was a lot of happy dancing and jumping around. I had absolutely no expectations of winning (hence not checking for so long!) but I am very pleased and so grateful.

Here’s the original post by the NYT on the contest entry.

And the NYT team talking about the competition this year.

The rest of the winning poems can be found here.

Or Click here for my original blog post on writing the poem.

Once more, a link to my winning poem. (Can you tell how happy this has made me?)

I’m beyond thrilled to have been chosen, partly because of the amazing entries but also because of how much I loved this competition. It’s definitely worth taking the time to read through the winning poems as well as looking through the comments on the original contest post allows you to see all of the entries.

Vick. (still bouncing a little!)


NYT and Walt

For a few years now the New York Times has run a ‘found’ poetry competition. I’ve never caught it at the right time to enter before and this was my last chance because you need to be 13-25 when you enter.
This is the idea:

What’s a found poem? A good nutshell description would be “poems that are composed from words and phrases found in another text.” A New York Times found poem, then, uses words and phrases taken from one Times article, past or present, or several — and since the paper has been publishing since 1851, choosing which Times article(s) to use is often the hardest part.

I chose the announcement of Walt Whitman’s death from March 27th 1982.

To start with I read it over a few (okay, nine) times. I printed out the article twice, and scribbled all over the first one – highlighting all of the phrases and words that I really liked. I wanted the poem to reflect Whitman’s own ideas about death. He wrote often about dying and the afterlife. He admired people who had a calm readiness for death and often attended vigils for people who were dying or ill. His poem ‘To Think of Time’ was influenced by visits to hospitals and seeing cholera victims. Whitman wrote of death as a divine mystery rather than focusing on the violent death on battlefields. He saw existence as a continuum and I don’t think was afraid of dying or doubted an eternal life of sorts. I read many of his poems and several articles from the Encyclopedia of Walt Whitman before I started forming the poem so I knew what I wanted it to say from the start.

Once I had something that looked pretty much as good as it was going to get I took my clean copy of the article and went through the poem to make certain that I’d not added anything of my own. The competition allows you to use two words of your own but I really didn’t want to do that.

So that has been entered. But more importantly I plan on writing more poems like this. Since I finished that poem I have been working on new poems from UK based newspapers – it’s a type of poetry I want to explore more.

If you are interested in poetry please do keep checking back here as there is going to be a seriously fun announcement coming up in the next couple of weeks…


Poetry Update

It has now been a very long time since I posted any poetry online. It’s not that I haven’t been writing it, quite the opposite. I haven’t written this much since I was seventeen.

The poetry that I wrote when I was seventeen was uniformly bad. Really, terrible. I had given up on it until very recently when I realised that as I am now a better poet I might be able to take some of my old poems and make them better. So that is what I’ve been doing.

A significant number of them (almost half) were completely useless or had maybe one line I could salvage. The rest of them I am working on at the moment. I think it will take at least four drafts to shift them into something readable. Hopefully each rewrite will make them a little more like the poetry I want to be writing and less like the poetry I hate.

I’ve also been doing something which I love, imitating other poems. I did this once during the 3RW project but didn’t flag it up as such at the time (it was ‘A Dream Vision‘). I’ve done four of these and it is a really interesting way of seeing how other poets work.

It almost goes without saying that I have been writing run-of-the-mill just sit-down-and-write-the-damned-thing poetry as well. Quite a few of those in fact.

So there is a lot of poetry being written but none on the blog. It has taken a long time for me to be happy with the way that I am writing these poems and I am almost at the stage where I would be happy to enter them into competitions again. However, you can’t enter/publish poems that have been published on a blog. Hence not putting anything online at the moment.

I was very happy to put all of my 3RW poems online because that was a learning experience for me and also so many people gave me the ideas over the internet it would have been churlish not to share them on here as well. I don’t for a minute think any of the poems I am writing are good enough to win, but perhaps good enough to enter. To my very great surprise I have had several people (some I’ve never even met/spoken to) asking to see more of my poetry. I have been trying to think of a way of doing it but short of emailing people I am a little stumped. I welcome any ideas. So for now very little poetry will be making its way up here…but I will still be writing it!