With regret I'm announcing that SydneyPoetry.com won't be running the Sydney Poetry Prize this year.

The inaugural prize was a great success last year, a lot of fun to conduct, and it was something we had obviously hoped to continue.

However, like many ventures of this kind, the site is run by a small number of people in their spare time.

Although the work required behind the scenes for something of this nature is in reality modest, with family and work commitments spare time is in short supply. Something has had to give way. Sadly the Sydney Poetry prize this year has not been something we could put on properly, and it really is something that should be done well if it's done at all.

I know this will sadden many enthusiastic contributors to the site, and I apologise for the disappointment.

I'm hopeful the prize is something we return to in a more sustainable way in future years.

In the meantime I hope you continue to enjoy what Sydney Poetry offers.

Comments are welcome.

Views: 154

Comment by Tim Entwisle on February 12, 2013 at 7:55

I do a lot of volunteer work and I know how much time it can take. Running the site is plenty of work I am sure!

Comment by Tim Heffernan on February 12, 2013 at 19:54

Thanks Adrian for your work and vision.

Comment by Dermott Ryder on February 15, 2013 at 11:13


Dear Adrian:


I offer these comments with good will and in on-going support of your commitment to ‘Sydney Poetry’ and the opportunities it offers.


Thank you. Good call! Your regrets and apologies, courteous and welcome as they are, clearly recognize the realities of the situation.


Perhaps the throughput of work over the year and the underwhelming lack of responses to the announcement of cancellation by members may also provide food for thought.


Those of us involved with all sorts of projects, websites, blogs, event organisation, writing, reading, singing, holding down a job and trying to have a life are wholly aware that squeezing everything in to a meagre twenty-five hours a day, eight days a week  is quite challenging.


This cancellation does not disappoint everybody. To more than a few, ‘Poetry Competitions’ are an abomination. In my circle of acquaintances they appear to have a tendency to alienate more writers than they encourage.


I regularly encounter a firmly held belief that judges, universally, suffer from excruciating subjectivity and from the most debilitating form of tunnel vision. I also detect a strong, and often many voiced, assertion that judges, bedevilled by peer pressure, select ‘winners’ according to current wisdom or as a result of personal whimsy.


This mistrust of process I do not necessarily share, even so it begs the question: In a world where hardly anybody reads contemporary poetry, what qualifies largely unread contemporary poets with a few esoteric ‘slim volumes’ - and possibly a liberal arts degree to their credit - to judge the poetic work of others?


I do not include the inaugural poetry competition of ‘Sydney Poetry’ in these observations. Nonetheless, the most common complaints I hear centre on lack of transparency of many competitions and beyond that, on the absence of communicated reasoning by judges.  For instance:


01: Why are the winners so good? What essential qualities set them apart from the rest?


02: What is lacking in the ones that do not win? In what way do they fail to meet the judges exacting standards?


03: Is it possible that there could be a greater motive to write poetry than simply to seek the approbation of a faceless panel of adjudicators, gain an obscure prize or to win a few dollars donated by people, however well-meaning, who want to sell the hopeful poets slim volumes written by other hopeful poets? Is it infinitely worse to sell the hopefuls seeking guidance a never ending stream of those grey anthologies with the often misleading words ‘The Best Of’ emblazoned in their titles?


It is my belief that not all writers submitting work to ‘Sydney Poetry’ wish to have it automatically drawn into a poetry competition. Perhaps a tick box on the page controls of ‘Members Poetry’ and ‘Blogs’ to give members the luxury of opting out of possible future competitions is the way to go.


My preference to formal competition is to do more to encourage the informed creative response of members, especially experienced members, to the work submitted. Well thoughtout reasons for the opinions shared will add guidance to all and will add stature to the site. The abiding guidance here must be: focus rationally on the work, do not attack the writer. Intellectualize rather than personalize critique.


It is a little disappointing that so few active members embrace the opportunity to creatively analyse and respond to the work published on the site. I can understand a reluctance to respond because in the past the ‘considered critique’ has sometimes met with unseemly and largely unacceptable comments made by the ‘shoot the messenger brigade’.


One hopes that this particular phalanx, courageously removed by the moderators, will remain in the cyber wilderness.


Adrian… Once again thank you for your valiant efforts in maintaining ‘Sydney Poetry’ and for providing yet another interesting topic for discussion.


Finally…You are doing an admirable job with ‘Sydney Poetry’, do not doubt it for a second, more strength to your elbow and do try to get a couple of hours sleep from time to time.


Best Wishes


Dermott Ryder

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