Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

The 2015 Tabor Adelaide Creative Writing Awards

Over the years I have submitted quite a few poems and stories to writing competitions, with a moderate level of success. I should enter far more than I do because I have such a vast number of poems and a few stories that the only problem is actually choosing which pieces go where. I have also been intending sending off far more items to magazines and journals in the hope of being published.

To me there seems little point in all of that writing languishing unread and unloved on my hard-drive. I would encourage my readers to do the same. In the light of that I will include here details of some up and coming competitions and publishing opportunities. Here is the first one:

The 2015 Tabor Adelaide Creative Writing Awards

Submissions for this creative writing competition are now open and will close on March 6th 2015. Only one entry for each category – poetry and short story – is allowed per person. Unlike most competitions, entry for this one is free.

This is the second time this competition has been offered and I intend to submit a poem in the next day or so. I do not have a suitable story on the set theme “Hope against hope” and I am hoping that some inspiration will come my way in the next week or so.

When I was completing my Masters degree at Tabor a few years ago we often talked about the possibility of hosting a writing competition but nothing came of it then. It is therefore great to see it finally get off the ground and last year’s event was a huge success with hundreds of entries from all over Australia.


Good writing.

Critics of Australian Poetry

I must confess that I read quite a few poems in the passage of each year. I subscribe to and read a number of literary journals and occasionally buy volumes of poetry, especially new releases from poets I respect or have grown to love; for example, I ordered a new volume of Valerie Volk’s poems yesterday. I also borrow books of poetry from my local library from time to time, usually as the mood moves me.

I also write a moderate amount of poetry in the course of a year. I have never counted the poems I have written but a list must run to many hundreds, maybe 500 – 600 or so over the last 50+ years. I started writing poetry at high school. During that time I have also had many dozens of poems published in a wide variety of journals, magazines other places. As well I have on occasion been asked to perform my poems in public. I have self-published nearly a hundred of my haiku and poems on this site here. Several of my poems have won awards too.

Over the years I have written some reviews of books I have read, but rarely have I reviewed poems or books of poetry. This morning I was alerted to a major critique of the state of reviewing and critiquing poetry at present in the Australian scene. In his article “The Poet Tasters” Ben Etherington reviews the state of literary criticism of the current and recent crop of books of poetry, and finds them sadly deficient. He compares them to the lofty heights of general literary criticism – mainly novels.

The poetry critic is a different creature, evolved within a different ecosystem, whose resemblance to most critics of fiction is not much closer than honeyeaters to chickens.

The problem, as I see it, and as Etherington points out, is the result of economics. It is well known that a handful of novelists in Australia can make a modest living from their craft, but poets generally are their poorer cousins – much, much poorer.

The art form subsists in an economy of university posts, writing courses, postgraduate scholarships, literary prizes, government grants, fellowships, philanthropy and, above all, self-funding.

In the article he goes on the critique the critics, quoting extensively from a representative sample of them and concludes that the critics are far too effusive in their praise, and far too lacking in deep, incisive criticism. I confess that I too usually fall into this trap when reviewing, preferring to err on the side of praise than appear to be too harsh. I can think of only one exception where I was quite blunt and in direct opposition to the vast chorus of praises heaped upon the novel The Slap which I found written in a lazy and offensive manner.

Over coming months I do intend reviewing – and even critiquing – a number of volumes of poetry I have read in recent times. I must remember to not just end up praising the works but also digging a little deeper.

Further reading:

A major writing milestone

Over the years I have plodded along with my writing on this site with little attention to milestones along the way. Only today I suddenly realised that I have passed two significant points quite recently.


  1. I have now written over 1000 posts here on Trevor’s Writing.
  2. I have now written approximately three million words over the last 22 years.

Not all of those words were on this site – the figure includes several novels, a daily journal, dozens of essays for my Masters degree, more than 2600 articles on my other sites Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels, and thousands of emails and letters. Oh… I forgot – I also do all of the maintenance and most of the writing for our church website here.

No wonder my fingers are tired.


The archives of this site now contain over 1000 articles about writing, writing ideas, reading, books, teaching, reviews, poems and short stories. You can access this amazing resource here, or go to the Archives button above.

You can also access articles on various themes or topics in 3 other ways:

  1. The Contents section on the sidebar.
  2. The Categories on the sidebar.
  3. The search button near the top of each page.

The future

As impressive as all of the above is – in my mind anyway – there is one thing I would like to add: “You ain’t seen nothing yet, folks.” Planned for the future include:

  • Many thousands more articles about writing.
  • More reviews and essays.
  • More writing hints and ideas.
  • More poems and stories.
  • News of forthcoming ebooks and printed books.

Please help me:

I am open to suggestions about what my readers would like to see here on this site. Please respond in the comments, or send me a short email via the Contact form above.

Good writing and reading.

I think I need to give my fingers a rest – and go read a book.

Writing prompt: giraffes and other animals

Are you looking at me?

Are you looking at me?

I took the photo above on a recent visit to the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales.

The giraffe is looking straight at me as I was taking the photo, prompting me to think that it was wondering what I was doing – or perhaps it is thinking: “Are you looking at me?”


This photo was taken during the time when the general public can get up close and personal with the giraffes. Various species of animals have times set throughout the day when the public can feed and touch the animals. One has to pay for the privilege of interacting with the animals in this way. It also means you get your photo taken up really close as well.

On this occasion there were a few people lined up to feed the giraffes, and many more curious onlookers like ourselves. For the onlookers it also allows some excellent photographic opportunities. This is particularly so with such a large animal as the giraffe.

Writing prompts:

  • Write a story or essay explaining what the giraffe is thinking.
  • Write a poem about giraffes.
  • Write about a close encounter you once had with a wild animal – or one in a zoo or a cage.
  • Imagine that humans could ride on the backs of giraffes. Write a story about “The great giraffe race.”
  • Imagine being a giraffe for a day. What adventures do you have? Outline the good and bad aspects of being a giraffe.

Good writing.

Giraffe at Dubbo Zoo

Giraffe at Dubbo Zoo

Writing prompt: close encounters

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Lane Cove National Park

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Lane Cove National Park

Earlier this week my wife and I had a few hours free from grand-children caring duties. We drove the short distance from our son’s home where we are staying. About 15 minutes later we were in the Lane Cove National Park, just a short distance north of the CBD of Sydney.

In the national park there are numerous delightful picnic areas next to the Lane Cove River. We choose one of them to have our lunch   (see photo below).

Our picnic area in the Lane Cove National Park

Our picnic area in the Lane Cove National Park

As my wife starting eating her lunch she had a close encounter with a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (see photo below). I didn’t manage a close-up photo because I was about 50 metres away taking photos of other birds. The cockatoo decided that my wife’s lunch was worthy of investigating, and landed on the table next to her. My wife quickly covered up her sandwiches!

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo on our picnic table

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo on our picnic table

Later I was able to catch up with the cockatoo and another one as they were also having lunch on some nearby flowers (see photo at the top of this post).

Writing prompts: close encounters with birds:

  • Write about a close encounter you had with a bird.
  • Describe a time a bird snatched food from your picnic table.
  • Write a poem about the pet bird or wild birds in your life.
  • Do some research about the birds in your local area. Write an article about your discoveries and observations and submit it to a local newspaper.
  • Take some photos of birds in your garden and write a caption for each.
  • If you write a blog, write about your close encounters and include photos of the birds seen.
  • Write about time you had a sudden, unexpected or frightening experience of a close encounter with a bird.
  • Have you ever found an injured or dead bird? Write about your feelings. Tell how you helped the injured bird. What happened to the dead bird?

Good writing.