Just the one competition this week, from Gerald Bullett: the winner to get two guineas, the second to get one guinea, and the third-placed to get half a guinea (a saving of half a guinea on the usual prize pot!). ‘Spring has survived her poets, and will survive others,’ writes Bullett, a bit nebulously. He asks for a poem entitled ‘April 1933’, in three six- or eight-line stanzas, the stanzas to be in a combination of two metres. He gives an example (not to be slavishly followed) from Blake’s ‘Night’:
Oddly enough, he also says that anyone who wants to drop the 1933 is welcome to, and that those who do opt to go with 1933 ‘and who write with some consciousness of our times, are advised not to make specific political allusions’. Why? What’s the point of that?
Anyway, it’s a disaster: ‘Many entrants seemed to misunderstand the terms of the competition, thinking it sufficient to vary the length of their lines, and not troubling to introduce a definite metrical change; and others, having achieved such a change in the first stanza, failed to sustain it throughout.’ Ouch. He then proceeds to take apart Prudence’s poem (Prudence is a ‘she”), despite it being ‘charming’. William Bliss and Pibwob and ‘a few others’ are let off. The prizes go to D.C.R.Francombe, Lester Ralph and Cottontail in that order. He hasn’t got space for Cottontail’s poem, but promises it will be published very soon. It never is: the first and only example of a half-guinea being handed to a writer whose work remained unpublished in the WR.
No two ways about it: these poems could and would have won competitions set over thirty years earlier.