Friday, October 7, 2016

Poetry-- it's not a contest

Ohio Poetry Day is coming up, and I've been thinking a little about poetry contests.
Is poetry about competition?
Diane Kendig criticizes competitions, and I can see her point: really, poetry is not a contest.  "Winning" is not what poetry is about!
But I have contradictory feelings about this: I have to admit, I love contests. I have fun entering them, and I have fun watching contests. There's nothing more fun than watching a good poetry slam, and competition is absolutely essential to a slam-- that's what makes slam exciting; that's it's all about.
Or is it?
Isn't it really about a good poem? Isn't a good performance something worthwhile on its own; you don't have to "beat" somebody else to be admirable?


Diane Kendig said...

Whoa! My critique in this blog is of poetry contests...for CHILDREN. I'm not a big fan of poetry contests, and the whole Foetry history makes clear there is a lot to be critical of in the world of poetry contests. But my objection in this blog concerns poetry contests for children, especially as their only outlet for poetry, putting poetry in their minds on the same plain as oh, football. As the blog suggests, I am not a big fan of Poetry Out Loud, the current recitation contest, either, and as nearly as I can tell, about the only poetry activity much funded by the OAC, which used to fund many poetry workshops and other activities for children. Now it's all performance, which, like slam, I have nothing against, except "Out Loud" doesn't even let the kids recite their own works, just mouth others', even--as Robert Pinsky pointed out in his Cleveland reading--bowdlerized versions of some poems. I have a lot of opinions about poetry competition, including slams, but not in this post.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

OK, that's a fair point-- your blog was a kick-off point for me to try to put down some of my own thoughts about poetry contests, but I didn't intend to mischaracterized what you said to do so.
I'll be interested in seeing your opinions, when you do write them.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau