Saturday 18 April 2015

Judging the Forward Prizes, Reading Differently

As a university lecturer and further education tutor for the last twenty years, with a focus on teaching creative writing, I have developed my ability to read appreciatively. I've come to start my workshops with "What do we like?" because I want to use that immediate, almost unthought initial response as a starting point. 

Reading for the Forward Prizes requires a different approach, that of reading for excellence. In poetry it consists of many elements, including linguistic precision, musicality, and depth of thought. I think reading nearly 200 books like this will make me a better teacher and a better reviewer--or so I hope. I've certainly already perceived a development in my thought, in my sense of my own poetics as well as what I look for in others' poetry. The two poems I worked on on the flight to the States ten days ago differ markedly from my previous writing--they're a lot longer, and one combines lines and prose, something I've never really done before. Whatever is yet to come, judging the Forward Prizes has been one of the most challenging pleasures I've experienced in a long time. 

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