Text Box: Humour Verse Winners Third Quarter 2013

First: Literally Minded by Melanie Branton

Second: Upwardly Political by Sylvia Fairley 

Third: National Rail Regulations by Lynn Roberts

Click on the titles to read the three winning poems.

 

Judges Report for the third quarter of the humour verse competition 2013 from Sarah Willans

 

After my first stint as judge for the Flash 500 Humour Verse Competition earlier this year, I was really looking forward to the arrival of the third quarter long list and when they finally hit my inbox, the twenty-four listed poems certainly didnt disappoint.

 

Reducing them to a short list of ten clearly wasnt going to be easy, and my first test was entirely subjective: I simply asked myself the question, Do I find this poem funny?. Some technically well-made poems fell at this first hurdle simply because their subject matter was quite well-worn and so held no surprises and an element of surprise is an important ingredient of humour. Im well past the age at which explicit language and sexual references alone are enough to raise a giggle, so anything that relied extensively on these for its effect also went out at this stage, as did any poem in which prominent technical flaws were a distraction.

 

Picking the final winners was even harder, and I read and re-read the entire short list over and over again, eliminating one poem at a time. At this stage, little things became very important: a single weak stanza in an otherwise good poem; a metrical stumble; a dodgy word choice; a disappointing last line. Finally I was left with three original, well-made poems that made me laugh, and they are:

 

1st: Literally Minded

This poem is tight, clever, and plays on words for all their worth and whats more, its voice is strong and clear and its I almost leaps off the page with exasperation and comic outrage. What grabbed me from the first reading, though, is its subject: weve all thought it (havent we?), but it took this poet to put it into well-organised words.

 

2nd: Upwardly Political

I see a lot of poems aimed at sleazy politicians, but most of them are straightforward rants. In using the voice of the politician himself, this poet has taken a different and far more effective approach, allowing the man to damn himself from his own mouth. The rhythm of the piece is unusual and particularly engaging, reminding me strongly of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, and that last line is a triumph.

 

3rd: National Rail Regulations

Though at first it seems to be simply a list of rail regulations, an interesting thing happens as you read this poem: the faceless drone delivering the lines gradually assumes a personality and its not a pleasant one. In S.5, their loathing of the passenger finally breaks through, and from thereon its downhill all the way to the last stanza, where the awful truth is finally out.

 

Once again, thank you to all of the long listed poets for entering and for brightening up my wet Devon winter. Keep writing!

 

Shortlist in alphabetical order

 

A Short Prayer by Anthony Watts

Boys and Gills by Rosemary Fisher

Crisis of Faith by Brian Allgar

Innhospitality by Martin Parker

ITV The Poem by Melanie Branton

Literally Minded by Melanie Branton

Mle Model by Lynn Roberts

National Rail Regulations by Lynn Roberts

The Contrariness of Young Love by Jeanne Waddington

Upwardly Political by Sylvia Fairly

 

Long list in alphabetical order

 

A Short Prayer by Anthony Watts

Aint No Use by Brian OLeary

Armless Fun by Hazel Teare

Black-balled by Susanna Clayson

Boys and Gills by Rosemary Fisher

Crisis of Faith by Brian Allgar

God has an Eppy by Sharon Boyle

Innhospitality by Martin Parker

ITV The Poem by Melanie Branton

Literally Minded by Melanie Branton

Mle Model by Lynn Roberts

Musings on Muse by Aileen Shirra

National Rail Regulations by Lynn Roberts

Paddy Went to Heaven by Christine McCherry

Political Pantomime by Judy Clegg

The Contrariness of Young Love by Jeanne Waddington

The Cursed Noel by Jerome Betts

The Dingly Days by Bryan Thomas

The Family Business by Jennifer Kearney

The Sad Story of Michael by Janice Windle

The Supermarket by Adrian Shaw

Upwardly Political by Sylvia Fairly

Whitby Horror by Hazel Teare

Yellow Leaf Lovers by Kate Rickwood