The Druthers Press “Dialogue” blog invites comments and feedback.
Comments by Eric Adriaans
Today I entered the Montreal International Poetry Prize (2017) with a poem that I had originally planned to include in a future poetry compilation. Given that I’ve just published Leviathan, it is still too soon to release new poems on this blog, so my submission to the contest reserves a safely unpublished status.
Entering the competition was a simple and smooth transaction. Twenty-five bucks paid via modern electronic convenience and a bit of cut-and-paste work puts my name in the hat. It actually feels a bit like buying a lottery ticket or responding to some skill-testing-questions to enter a contest. Perhaps the latter of those two descriptions is the more accurate comparison!
Poetry competition pursuit is a new undertaking for me. In the mid-80’s I entered a writing competition conducted by CBC, but that was really a stray occasion of youth rather than a considered attempt to launch a career as a poet. I sense that competitions, grants and other insecure sources of income are an essential consideration for anybody wishing to pursue poetry as a profession. On the other hand, self-publishing and access to these opportunities are both extraordinarily easy.
Considering and preparing my entry was an interesting process. Initially, I planned to draft a new poem based on a theme of Canada 150. I still have the outline of that poem in a notation form – but I realized that it would take me longer to complete the exercise than I really had. I’ll release that poem for Canada Day. The competition has a limit of forty lines per entry and my outline was already pushing those boundaries. Forty lines sounds like a lot of space, but it can be a tight restriction depending on what you’ve planned to do.
So I switched my plan to expression of single sentiment or perspective. I say sentiment but it may be better to say that I used the poem to express a reaction to an ethic. I’ll not explain further except to say that poetry is a unique form that provides tremendous challenges to convey complex and sometimes contradictory philosophies in a creative and concise manner. In context of language, poetry may serves as the antidote to specialist language and jargon.