There is No Formula

“There is, of course, no formula: what works, works.”


For three weeks, once the Torbay competition poems have come in, I will be trying to let the shortlisted poems make their way  into my head, coming about their own business as Ted Hughes’ thought-fox makes its way “brilliantly, concentratedly” into his silent room. I will be studying other judges’ reports, and recent prize-winning poems,  and trying on this blog to pass on to competitors the questions I find myself asking and the answers I try to find.

On 29th October, I don’t just want to hand the prize-money to the three poets whose poems I liked best. I want to have chosen the winners in such a way that the most of the audience, and most of the other competitors will feel that justice has been done.

There seems no better starting point than Lawrence Sail’s. “There is, of course, no formula: what works, works.”  Nevertheless, I hope prospective competitors will find it helpful to watch this space.