Back in late April, I decided to enter the Bridport Prize for the first time. Yesterday, I was delighted to open an email which told me I had not won it. As the Bridport is one of the biggest poetry prizes in the UK, this may seem a little odd. Now mind, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have been even happier if I had won it; but I knew that winners had already been getting emails, so I’d assumed that I was not among them. And I was right; but the email told me that my poem did get onto the shortlist, which I was also not expecting. Cue outburst of glee.
The glee was slightly dimmed when I read that the shortlist was 200 poems long; but it brightened again when I got to the figure for the total number of entries, which was 6800. A few taps on my phone’s calculator showed me that my little poem was therefore in the top 3%; at least according to whoever did the shortlisting. And whoever that was, I think it’s fair to assume that they know something about poetry.
So the news has been a huge boost – especially as I only entered the competition because I felt that I really ought to as a professional writer, rather than because I thought I could win. I didn’t even think the poem I chose was finished, though I did think it had strengths.
The news has shown me a couple of things. First, that it is worth entering the big competitions. And second, that with continued hard work, I can get to where I want to be – figuring in the national poetry scene, as well as the local one.
Oh, and I guess I should redraft the poem.
Image © ell brown on flickr. Used under Creative Commons licence