THOUGHTS WHILE JUDGING POETRY (#2)
I've decided to blog selected thoughts while reading the books for this poetry competition that Moi is judging. I say "selected" because I don't wish to blog thoughts that reveal the identities of those who've chosen to submit books for the competition. So, Moi second public thought (the first being the prior post):
I think that (named) judges of poetry competitions should make available their (poetry) reading lists. For Moi, I do so intermittently through my "Relished W(h)ine" posts (if you want to know the poetry publications I read for 2009, check HERE). Any competition winner is really only as valid as the validity of the competition judge, isn't it? Well, I'm thinking a poet's reading list would reveal something about hir qualifications to judge a competition that notionally is open to all sorts of poetries (as long as the contestants paid the entry fees, that is).
So, for example, if a judge only read "nature poetry" (and, by implication, that would mean only wanted to read "nature poetry"), then it's highly unlikely that the competition's winner would be, say, a spoken word collection or an ekphrastic poetry collection based on Dutch paintings of tavern interiors.
Not to say that a reading list would show the all-encompassing portrait of a judge's aesthetic taste. Were I to be looking and assessing such a list, for instance, I'd want to at least see that there's indication that the judge is open to many poetries -- as open as many of these competitions are for purpose of taking manuscripts/books to which are attached competition entry fees.
And if a judge doesn't read much (contemporary) poetry, well, yes -- then I say that poet has no business judging a competition (I am thinking of certain poet-teachers I know who don't read much outside the works that they teach their classes, for instance. They can have legit reasons for not reading much, like book budgets and time constraints -- which is fine but don't even think of judging one of these national or international competitions which often don't limit the type of poetries that can be submitted for consideration). Anyway, I'ma jes sayin'...
Transparency -- let's take that word back from Washington, shall we?