Monday, July 2, 2012

10 x 10 Contest Wrap-Up

I was honestly pleased with the range of work submitted for this contest.  I'm supposed to say I liked them all, but I truly did.

Read All the 10 x 10 Entries Here

We had a couple of lurking, skulking predator poems.  Some metaphorical internal animal poems.  A graceful swan poem.  A surprising suicidal earthworm poem.  A personal and cathartic dead kitten poem.  Some my-favorite-pet poems.  A werewolf poem.  And an unforgettable piece about a father much like Animal from the Muppet Show.

What is a 10 x 10?

A couple rhymed.  One was built from two five line stanzas.  Another was written in five unrhymed couplets.  Strange to me, but only two had titles.

In truth, I never counted the syllables in any of them, except my own after I published it.  I realized it had one nine syllable line and one eleven.  Mortified, I rapidly rewrote but my fumble is on the web plain as day.  I also typed in my wife's poem and changed her correct spelling of "dessert" to the wrong one.  Remember, you want seconds of dessert, hence two Ss.  No one wants more desert. And I'm the one who grew up speaking English.

Judging was tough and a bit confusing.  A week before judging was due to be finished, Rafflecopter published a second and third place winner.  I wonder what would have happened if I chose their number 3 as my number 1?  Fortunately, I have all the prizes and control who receives them.  After weighing the input of the entrants, the judges and my wife, I decided three finalists were too few and chose five.

I gave Amber's poem the win because of the emotional power, imagery and her use of the form.  She combines physical details and memories of her kitten I could feel and hear.  Her ninth line is one reason I love the 10 x 10 form so much.  "Feline Infectious Peritonitis."  Don't know what it is and sure don't want it, but it slams the door on the furry and fuzzy kitten verse.  The ten syllable limit forces this line to be point-blank and concise.  "The dry form, took my purring sweet baby."  Yes, it's easy to get an emotional reaction when you play the dead kitten card, but I think these words were placed precisely and thoughtfully.

I think everyone, including myself, grew a bit from this experience.  I'm know most of the entrants are not primarily poets.  Most are unused to restrictive forms.  This is an exercise in control, like dribbling a soccer ball around cones.  I find that even when I'm not writing verse, I take a poet's economy of language with me.

A few entrants I had to nudge into unfamiliar waters and I know they had fun despite apprehension. My own "Wanna be a Fish" is a repackaging of some rambling free-verse I'd scratched on paper years ago, but I recognized the same sort of understated irony I used in "Fake Flowers".  In the latter, I describe how I really prefer fake flowers to real because they're "Not hungry, always growing at the sun."  In the former, I mention how I want to be the best fish, a goldfish.  Truly, I can think of hundreds of ways real flowers are better than fake and I would rather be any kind of fish than a captive goldfish.  But to a jaded, tired, frustrated personality, the easy way is better.  Fake flowers don't wilt.  Goldfish swim circle and eat flakes.

More of My 10 x 10 Poems

Also, in promising the winner a spot in the back of my next book, I realized I'd better get to writing it.  No obstacles accepted.  So now, Chapter 3 of Cathartes Aura 3 is done and the boulder is rolling downhill.  Yes, I need a better title.  End of summer is the tentative launch date.

Keep track of my progress here

I'd love to do something like this again.  10 x 10s on another theme?  Maybe later.  A different form, perhaps.  Whatever it is, it should be short for a few reasons.  I like getting as much as possible from a small number of words.  I know writers are busy with other stuff and I want it to be easy to find time to participate.  I also want to have time for the judges.

So, what's the next poetry or short fiction contest?  Suggestions very welcome, plus feedback on CA3.  Vulture writing contest?

Thanks to all the Book Bloggers at The Indie Exchange.

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