Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Poetry in Cambridge (Ont.)

The other day I travelled to Cambridge to attend a meeting of the folks who are putting together an intriguing event to celebrate April, National Poetry Month. It consists of representatives of the Cambridge Libraries, their Arts Centre, and three writer/judges.

What it really consists of is three categories (Child, Young Adult, Adult) from each of which ten poems are chosen. These thirty are published, one per day throughout the month at all branches of the library, put together in a booklet, and read to an audience at a gala affair. I had the responsibility of chosing ten young adult entries; it was a matter of choice rather than judgement.

Some I liked. Some I didn't. Most fell in between the two. There was a lot of emotion but very little of the similes and metaphors that I tend to look for. I was happy when I found them, and found them well-used. I was less impressed by likes and dislikes expressed without using any poetc devices. End rhyme abounded but other sound facets of poetry: alliteration, assonance, internal rhyme, regular rhythms, were sadly lacking. Much of the appeal came to rest on pretty words.
For better or for worse, ten were chosen. I understand that the other categories had similar concerns. There was some discussion about changing criteria, etc. but we decided to keep it as open as possible. We want to encourage writers but not by excluding any.

I guess I get to give a little praise/pep talk at the gala. I'll be short and kind. I hope they don't turn out to be too shy or lacking self-confidence to read to an audience.

1 comment:

annaken said...

I did wonder what you were going to Cambridge for but now I know. It sounds interesting. They have a very active group there from what I have seen.

Writing is a learning experience, don't you think? One improves as one learns more of the techniques.

I think it is marvelous that these children want to write, and I believe that encouragement should be given to aspiring young writers, along with gentle guidance where they may improve their work.

It is wonderful to see the children participating in this event!