As a noted wordsmith and representative of West London’s premier poetry workshop, I am often to be witnessed rubbing shoulders with the more hard-nosed Circuit poets. I am sure you are aware of the cadre. These talented wielders of the ‘with best wishes’ autograph Sharpie are the dedicated life-blood of the country’s Poetry Scene, always ready with an observational piece in case ‘Loose Ends’ or ‘The Culture Show’ should come a-knocking whilst ensuring they maintain a steady stream of festival appearances to keep their dedicated fans, er, dedicated. More often than not I am button-holed by one of these talents (and I won’t be dragged into name-dropping) and asked when, if ever, Pitshanger Poets are going to hold a Poetry Competition, whether I might be regarded as the chairman of the judges should such a comp take place, and if that’s an empty glass in my hand then what’s my poison?
Not that tonight’s workshop would not give the Poetry Tour a run for their bar money. Owen Gallagher, a Grand Slam poet by any reckoning kicked things off with a revision of his piece about life in the saw-mills. John Hurley, a man who has seen his own share of live appearances dug deep with a piece about autumn. Martin Choules, who writes effectively on any surface has been celebrating the many Hipsters he has seen around town recently. Nick Barth who frequently rallies from the base line read a piece about escape. Clare Chitan has been on tour herself and is in love with the sea. Daphne Gloag is idolised by the Circuit Poets and read us a piece about sailing the universe in a bath. Alan Chambers, deserving a Master’s on his own account is collecting twelve poems in aid of Questors, tonight giving us July. Caroline Am Bergris could not be with us tonight and deserves her own Big Gold Dish. Best wishes, Caroline.
The truth behind the Pitshanger Poetry Competition is that a few years ago it foundered on its own complexity. The group, inspired by the shower of glittery awards lobbed at mere actors, attempted to spruce up the prize-giving with a series of much more exciting awards than the somewhat meat-and-potatoes ‘Best Poem’. We had awards for Best Trochee, Best Anapest, Best Use of Anthropomorphism in a Poem about Cats, Best Use of Anthropomorphism in a Poem Not About Cats, Most Amusing Use of Pathos, Most Unamusing Use of Bathos, Best Use of
Enjambement, Least Irritating Haiku and Most Well-Hidden Neologism, among others. The debates over judging criteria lasted long into the night, but ultimately the competition collapsed for one simple reason. The complex wording of the classifications served to ensure that the ancient engraver at the Ealing Broadway Heel Bar refused point-blank to title the Prize Trophies for anything like a reasonable fee. If you have been, thank you for reading.