Recurring debates on important poetry topics.
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Re: Punctuation

Post by Terry » Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:27 pm

Hi Everybody,
I have missed most of this while I was getting my knee fixed up – I hope!
If I go over what’s already been done to death I apologise as I haven’t read all the post; just dived in here and there.
In an ideal world as has been stated already we would have a lot more judges; not because there is anything wrong with the ones we have, but simply to have a more diverse spread of opinions as we all have our favourite type of poems. I note that David & Glenny have judged 9 between them this year; it would be interesting to know just how many Comps there are.
How about a different judge for each Comp. or restricting a judge to say two Comps., but of course where would we get the judges and who wants to be one anyway.
Another thing that crossed my mind was about punctuation and there was some pretty robust discussion on the subject. I can’t help but wonder as others have said are some judges just a little too strict with this? The reason I was wondering about this was because most of us forum members have at one time or another mentioned we’re not too flash with it ourselves; which leaves me wondering just how many of our prospective readers are any better at it than us? On the plus side there is no doubt that my understanding of its use, though still pretty basic; has improved through entering written competitions.


Vic Jefferies
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Re: Punctuation

Post by Vic Jefferies » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:16 pm

Sorry Bill, the National Folk Festival is decidedly more expensive than $75!
Stephen you are pretty close to agreeing with me.
The NFF Poet's Breakfasts are always extremely well attended and always enjoyable. The competition that Stephen speaks of is really a low key affair and is won for the best recitation of a poem, not the best poem. Therefore although people are free to read they can't win. All forms of poetry on any theme is acceptable the only limit being it should not be too risque and there is a time limit of six minutes.
The person who won the award the previous year acts as judge and time keeper and applies his/her own standards. It is not a bush poetry competition in anyway at all though there is always a large amount of bush poetry presented together with free verse and other forms.
The breakfasts typify what I mean by being a wonderful forum to share poetry and to encourage newcomers. Although the award does carry some prestige the competition is very much secondary to the enjoyment of the mornings by everyone concerned which always results in bumper crowds and more poets than can be accommodated in the time available.
The National Folk Festival Reciter of the Year Award has now been going for 31 years and long may it continue however, I have no doubt that the breakfasts at the NFF would be just as well attended and as well patronised by poets and poetry fans if there was no award because everyone enjoys them and sees them as an opportunity to read or recite their own or their favourite poetry and that is exactly what we should be striving for!

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Re: Punctuation

Post by Zondrae » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:36 am

Morning VIc, and everyone,

Yes. The Poets Breakfasts at the National Folk Festival are a great platform to have your poetry heard. I have been attending the National for about 10 or 11 years. At first I had Vic almost dragging me to the stage. The first year I think I had only written about six or seven poems. There are many styles of poetry performed at the National and just a few years back a wonderful performer from Queensland, Joe Lynch, won the reciters award with a free verse which included a few lines of 'Danny Boy' which he sang. There is such variety. Peter Mace won with a very serious poem. Lenny Morris won with a side splitting rendition of Blue the Shearer's 'The Whingin' Pub'. Some of the past winners are members of the ABPA and some are not. All I can say is that it may cost you $400 or so for the week, (including camping at the site) but you get almost 5 fully packed days and nights of poetry, music and song. But the best thing is you get to meet other members of the ABPA that you know from this site and a chance to 'get up' and recite before a most appreciative crowd.

I almost plan my whole year around the National.
Zondrae King
a woman of words

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David Campbell
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Re: Punctuation

Post by David Campbell » Tue Dec 10, 2013 9:22 am

Okay, let's really stir up a few possums and get back to punctuation for a moment. After all, that's how Mal started it all. And it's worth going back to because I wrote some guidelines about aspects of punctuation in the thread that Stephen started on April 10 this year. In particular, there was a detailed illustration of how to use the possessive apostrophe.

In the comments above we have read about poets' breakfasts, poets breakfasts, and poet's breakfasts. Which is correct, and does it matter? I know some people would say: "Oh, who cares? We all know what it means!" This level of attention to detail is presumably the sort of thing Bill is complaining about when he refers to the "embellishment of the technical requirement" in modern bush poetry...so we can either put the apostrophe wherever we like or leave it out altogether. Any judge who sees incorrect usage of the apostrophe as a fault is regarded as "too strict".

So just imagine somebody who knows nothing about poetry or festivals coming across the term and wondering how many poets are involved in these breakfasts. Because "poet's breakfasts" only have one poet, and as for "poets breakfasts"...well, we simply don't know how many poets are involved. The only correct way to write about breakfasts involving lots of poets is "poets' breakfasts". So if poetry is about communication and you want someone who may know nothing about your subject-matter to understand exactly what you're describing, then detail like this is important. If I wrote to a vet about wanting help with problems involving my "horses hooves" then the vet wouldn't have a clue whether it was one horse or many that I was talking about. Getting it wrong only diminishes the impact of your writing. So yes, punctuation DOES matter.


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Mal McLean
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Re: Punctuation

Post by Mal McLean » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:10 am

David wrote
If I wrote to a vet about wanting help with problems involving my "horses hooves" then the vet wouldn't have a clue whether it was one horse or many that I was talking about.
I wish you hadn't written that. :D

Just how many gay guys will go to the vet anyway? :oops:

Seriously, I take your point. Absolutely correct.

I remain yours, still expiring from man flu. I even checked to see if my funeral notice was in the paper.

Preserve the Culture!

william williams

Re: Punctuation

Post by william williams » Tue Dec 10, 2013 12:23 pm

David you asked the vet about your horses hooves please note you have but one horse so you would inquire about your HORSE'S HOOVES your point about punctuation in this case would be required because David I do not believe you would say MY HORSE HOOVES

bill the old battler

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Re: Punctuation

Post by Peely » Tue Dec 10, 2013 1:06 pm

There is actually a valid reason for leaving the apostrophe off the term 'Poets Breakfast' and that would be that it could be defined as a breakfast with poets rather than being a breakfast for poets. Leaving the apostrophe off in that sense is probably more inclusive.
John Peel - The Man from Gilmore Creek

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Re: Punctuation

Post by Terry » Tue Dec 10, 2013 1:32 pm

Hi David,
I understand what you're saying and have no doubt that what you say is correct; I just hope that regardless of this, the best poem wins any given comp and doesn't lose because of the odd miss use of a semicolon or apostrophe.
I suppose if a particular written competition want's strict adherence to punctuation they could put it in their list of conditions, it would then be up to the poet whether he or she enters or not. It probably wouldn't make much difference to me, but to others it might.
It's easy to say ABPA rules state this or that; perhaps the actual competition should spell it out as well.

I must go back and read all your posts David; sounds like there is some good advice there.


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Stephen Whiteside
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Re: Punctuation

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:57 pm

I know grammar and spelling are difficult, and I know I was fortunate to have it drummed into me during the course of private school education - and during an era when the teachers, bless their souls, still understood the rules of grammar, and knew how to spell - but I can't see how there is any excuse for getting these things wrong in a written competition. If you're really serious, buy a book and teach yourself how it all works. As to the question of how much weighting is applied to the technicalities of language versus the intrinsic merit of the poem, I guess that is a matter for the individual judges. The general advice, I would have thought, is to make sure your poem ticks all the boxes as well as possible. (That same private school education, by the way, also brought with it major disadvantages, but I won't go into those now.)
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer

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Re: Punctuation

Post by Terry » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:48 pm

Fair enough Stephen,
But not all judges agree on punctuation; indeed some have different interpretations, while others say they only only use it when trying separate two otherwise great poems.
I went to Catholic Schools myself and must admit the Nuns that taught me were very strict on all aspects of English; but what's that saying "you can lead a horse to water etc."
Another thing about my school days was that poetry was also a part of my education as well and not just old English poetry, we learned Australian poems as well.


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