Tuesday poem: Outings

November 28, 2016


Out for review
Out for the count
Out of time
Out for lunch
Out and about
Out for a duck
Out of luck
Out of the closet
Out on the town
Out of the corner of my eye
Out of the box
Out of the mouths of babes
Out of fashion
Out caught behind
Out of it
Out and out
Over and out

PS Cottier

A bit of fun this week; and why not, as we head into glorious summer and Christmas?


I was chuffed (a technical term for a state somewhere between freakily ecstatic and mildly pleased) to hear that I have been shortlisted for the Red Room New Shoots Poetry Prize, in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, and Rochford Street Review.  You can access the full shortlists here (plural as there was a site specific contest for the Botanic Gardens, too).   Lovely to recognise some other people on the list!  And to see some names that are totally unfamiliar, as well.

Now I’m off to work on some sunburn.

I am so very nice

April 21, 2015

Why that self praise? I am about to share the details of a wonderful poetry prize currently on offer with all readers:


First prize is $15,000 for one poem of up to 50 lines, and entry is $20. It is open to everyone in the world who writes English and has a credit card with at least $20 left on it. That may exclude quite a number of poets, admittedly, but a few may qualify. There’s a bit over a month before the prize closes. Obviously, there will be quite a few entries!

Pick up pen, tablet or crayon and write. Or enter a poem that you have been too lazy to send in to a journal. Do it or be beaten by this rabbit:

I am hoarding a poem for the competition like Gollum with the Ring. It just requires a bit more polishing.

Good luck!

A nice surprise!

July 21, 2014

I just heard that I have been awarded second prize in the Hector the Lump of Coal Picture Book Competition. I wrote a story in verse called ‘Hector and the Bully’.

Such a pleasure to rhyme and to have a narrative, and a group of characters, I must say. It was a very different type of poetry from that which I usually write, which tends to be free verse.  I tried to make the poem quite easy to read, particularly aloud, while avoiding overly clunky rhymes.  (It is about a lump of coal, though, which is a fairly solid addition to any poem.)

I wanted to raise the issue of bullying without making the work too confronting for a potential audience of young readers (some of whom might have the story read to them by parents, should it be published).

Hector became more like a real presence to me as the piece progressed, as those close to me noticed. What started purely as a bit of fun became a tad more serious. Hector began popping up in the conversation all the time.  I began imagining him in all sorts of scenarios.  As is usual with me, I became a little obsessed.  First time it’s happened with a coal-shaped mascot, though!

To say that I am surprised to win a prize is actually an understatement, given that this was so far from what I usually do.  Although I have secretly been working on a different children’s book, it must be said…Here I am dreaming of publication.

This current award does not necessarily mean publication of the story, by the way. It is a cash prize.

Thank you to the organisers, DBCT Pty Ltd. I only wish I could meet Hector some time.

I had a poem prepared for today, but this most unexpected news intervened.

Perhaps that should be lines. The Cricket Poetry Award closes on 31st August, so if you have an idea for a poem about playing or watching cricket, it’s time to pad up.

The prize is $2000 AUD, entry is $20, which can be done by Paypal, and the announcement of the winner is made at the SCG members pavilion. The top twenty poems from each year have previously been published in a booklet.

Entry forms and full conditions can be found here. There is a tight word limit of 150, so there is no defensive play allowed. No Boycott. Only Gower. And that has to be a good thing.

Bloody batting metaphors. Grumble grumble.

On prizes and poetry

December 13, 2010

‘I had rather be a kitten and cry mew                                                                   Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers’                                                     (Shakespeare, Henry IV part 1)

Poetry long ago lost its place as the most respected form of writing in our society; poets may be the legislators of the soul, but the number of souls within poetry’s jurisdiction is comparatively small.  You write poems, and you hope they make someone’s mind quake a little, or at least experience a bit of a shadowy quiver.  Poets are become the sherbet of the soul, it seems, if not the fruit tingles. (Fruit Frisson, anyone?)

Prizes for poetry are important in that they show that (a) at least one other person has read your work and (b) they liked it.  To be selected for an award judged by a ‘panel of experts’, all of whom must have preferences and peccadilloes (or armatures and armadillos) is sweet, as it means that your idiosyncratic words have touched more than one mind; perhaps even surprised people into forgetting that they are working their way through a pile of poetry taller than the average skyscraper.

I just heard that I have been awarded a prize called the David Campbell Prize (shared with another poet called Robyn Lance) administered by ArtsACT .  The poem, called ‘Visitation’ was very bleak indeed; a mediated response to stories that we read in the newspapers of parents who kill their children, stories which can haunt the reader for days.  I wanted to haunt the reader in the same way, to move well beyond sherbet.

Winning a prize for such a poem conjures forth ambiguous reactions: nothing could be further from my mind when I was working on the piece than the concept of winning.  Writing a poem about the murder of children to win a prize would be sick indeed.  (You’d be worse than a hack ‘ballad-monger’, regardless of whether the poem rhymed or not.)  But I am glad that a poem on a subject outside the usual palette of subject matter won the prize.