In the recent month I have had two very happy successes: first prize in the Havant Literary Festival poetry competition, and a Commended in the Ilkley Literary Festival.
The Havant was judged by Anne Stewart who herself was a recent winner of the Bridport, and the Ilkley was judged by Ian Duhig. In both cases I managed, by the kind aid of good friends, to get to the awards ceremony. At Havant we were all surprised to find that we would not be expected to read our winning poems. We just hopped up onto the podium when our names were called, were given our cheques, and off we went.
On the other hand at Ilkley we were thoroughly rehearsed beforehand both in reading our poems and in the running order.Poor Ian had to go a couple of times through his long and thorough judge's report until he was probably wishing he'd never written it! But it went well, with quite a decent sized audience present to hear the poems. Afterwards there were readings from Ian Duhig and Debjani Chatterjee, and sadly I couldn't stay for them: a long drive home, and as our own Literature Festival in Chester begins this week I have a lot to do and could not afford a late night.
And, you know, I felt absolutely terrible: I have never wanted to be one of those poets who come to a reading, get up to read their own stuff and then promptly leave without listening to others. But on this occasion I had to do this. And still two days later I cannot forgive myself for this discourteousy ....
But if you are a reader of this blog, then please understand I very rarely behave like this!
Ilkley Festival will be posting the winning poems on their festival website eventually. So you can have a look there soon if you would like to see the poem/poems in question; Havant, I believe, might do that though no-one is sure...But Havant is only in its second year of running a festival and there is a lot to learn about these matters. I was very amused, and also impressed, to hear them say in their opening speeches that "Havant comes before Hay-on-Wye in the alphabet..." So look out, Hay-on Wye, you have a contender for your accustomed literary eminence ! I have a lot of respect for bravado like this because without bravado nothing gets achieved. And who knows...?