Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Mslexia Poetry Competition Results

A few months ago, I entered the Mslexia poetry competition on a whim. This was the first time I'd entered a poetry contest. I wasn't that hopeful, but you gotta be in it to win it, right? And poetry, gah, such a subjective thing to judge!

Well, yesterday I got my new issue of Mslexia. I hadn't heard back from them, but I flicked through just to make sure. Nope, none of my poems in there.

The judge, Ruth Padel, gave a bit of feedback in her introduction for all those who weren't chosen. She said that she rejected many poems because of tiny imperfections. In essence, these were some of the reasons for rejection:

- Too many unnecessary adverbs/adjectives
- Clumsy line-ends
- Lapses in tone/form
- Over-reliance on very short lines for impact

Obviously she went into much more detail. I would recommend the magazine, and you can buy it online at mslexia.co.uk

Here is one of the three poems I submitted. I wrote it as a response to a challenge at Critters Bar and, as I said, submitted it on a whim. In hindsight, it probably didn't quite fit in with the tone of the magazine. Well, that's my excuse. Perhaps I abused the first point listed above. Perhaps all of them...

The Mouth of the Jungle
by Sophie Playle

I have come too far
into this wet and wild place.
Sweat sticks to my face like a
second layer of hot skin. Birds sing
a violent war cry, and insects roar
as one angry gnawing mouth.
The forest tastes me, takes tiny bites,
tests my flavour. It does not starve,
it swells with might, and tests the brave
or the foolish.

I have been deemed worthy for devour;
I see it in every pair of narrowing eyes,
every bright flower. Fixed eyes, cold,
unblinking and alive with vibrant shards of
gold, stop me in my tracks.
I have come too far, they say, and now I must
pay with my flesh, my bones soon to be reduced
to toothpicks for the king.

My damp fingers curl around the hilt of my blade.
I am not afraid – I am ready for this test, I feel
my heart swelling in my breast and my breath
is steady.

He growls, an echo of the forest’s hunger.
Muscles tense and ripple as he leaps.
Claws, teeth; sharp, wide.
The eyes grow large as my blade strikes
upwards. Blood covers me
like a third layer of skin.


  1. I know the feeling Sophie. Each of my poems contains tiny imperfections too. Hundreds of them.

  2. I enjoyed the poem. But it's like you said...poetry can be SUCH a subjective thing to critique...much less, JUDGE.

  3. I know the feeling too.
    I have submitted several things in the past - I have yet to break through. And I like the magazine so much, that their rejection is the hardest.

  4. The thing about contests is that they are so subjective. It's only a few judges and what they like or don't like doesn't mean a writer's work will or won't find an audience. Keep plugging away!

  5. "third layer of skin," great image! You have a lovely site here, I look forward to reading more posts. And don't be discouraged, please continue to submit your wonderful work to various poetry contests and magazines.

  6. Thanks for the support, everyone!


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