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CREATE YOUR OWN COMPETITION discussion - Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer's Blog

About Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer
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In 2016 I wrote an online course on “Poetry Appreciation and Analysis Skills” on Open Learning.  The course can be found at:   

In 2017 my friend and I completed a speech development project we were working on and published Special Pictures to Talk About: 

I grew up in the Barossa Valley, an area of South Australia predominantly settled by German immigrants. As a dark-haired, tanned little English girl (remember Britain was at one stage occupied by the Romans), I was very different and mercilessly teased. I remember the struggle to learn to read – painfully stringing three letter words together – there was Sam and Pam and a ball. Sometimes there was a fat cat on a mat or dog with a ball. Reading was a slow process until one birthday, I sat down with my gift, a Famous Five book by Enid Blyton. The mystery story was so exciting, I finished it in one session and I was a fast reader from that moment onwards. I loved Enid Blyton, her Wishing Chair stories, Magic Faraway Tree stories, fairy-land and toy-land stories as well as the mysteries.

A couple of years later, I discovered The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It was so amazing, I read it seven times in a row! Eventually, I discovered there was a whole series… I survived on this sort of fair until I was sixteen and read The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. That gave me a taste for adult fantasy. In search of more riveting reading, I discovered Stephen King and James Herbert. Stephen King’s Danse Macabre led me to H.P. Lovecraft, on whom I completed a Master’s project.

I learned to sew when I was ten and dressed myself throughout high-school and university in my own designs. I tried putting seams where seams traditionally did not go, or had not gone for a decade or two. I also put zippers in unusual places and added flounces and uneven hem lines. In the mid-1990’s fashions available in the stores began to catch up to me.

I enjoyed writing poetry and short stories, although was discouraged I had no early success in competitions. In 1988, I wrote my first full length manuscript, often scribbling on the train as I travelled from Newcastle to Sydney to attend post graduate study at university. In the year 2000, I brought my second full length manuscript into being and 2004 saw my third full length manuscript. None is published yet, but I still keep writing.

In the year 2001, I returned to another creative passion of mine, which was dance. I spent five years learning Ballroom dance and participating in dance school showcases. I also learned Belly-dance and had a go at most other types of folk dance. I spent a year with a performing group, the Matinee Entertainers, before moving onto coaching after school sports, circus and gymnastics. I never turned professional, but I loved fun and games and spreading the enjoyment amongst others. Always keen to find a dramatic outlet, I joined the production committee for a community Nativity performance and in 2010, a Nativity Play I wrote was produced by a local church.

I currently tutor English and have been doing so under my own ABN since 2007 – trying to create that “aha” moment when reading becomes pleasure instead of pain for children struggling to read and write. 



Blog Posted:9/24/2017 5:23:00 PM

Dear Poetry Soup friends:

Thank you all so much for entering my CREATE YOUR OWN COMPETITION.

I am posting this because I freely acknowledge I do not have ten brains and I am not an expert on all forms! I could have done with an entire panel of judges assisting me on the “Create your own competition”. I knew that from the beginning - but I thought - why not have a go? 

Now some outcomes and observations. I am offering these in the spirit of helping people achieve their own aims. If you don’t want me to be so specific – please tune out now.

  • Form – read and study your form correctly


When I am feeling artistic, I transform and transgress form myself. However, a judge may judge for the correct use of the form. So if your form requires two lines (for example) give the reader two lines. If you wish to repeat the form, place a blank line between formations and they will become stanzas.

  • ABC – please check this form definition.

I expect to see some sort of letter pattern in the poem, and often when I have been given this form I can’t find a pattern. Maybe I am blind? Reader error is possible, but if I can’t get it, there will be other readers who cannot identify the poem with the form too.

  • Japanese forms

Something that had me scratching my head and almost yelling for another judge was the clever Haiku. I believe that the clever Haiku becomes the Senryu, but I’m not sure where the point of change over occurs.

  • The “I don’t know” form –  seems amateurish

Unless you are new to the site and looking for a mentor – or truly creative and inventing a new form, it seems best to avoid this label. Verse or Free Verse would seem to cover most forms and “I don’t know” comes across as amateurish amongst a group of other poets that are confident with their form labels.


  • Formatting – check the computer hasn’t messed up all your hard work and it has copied correctly!


  • Minimalism – this was a fascinating criteria someone brought up and TOP MARKS to the person who did this. Don’t be surprised if a minimalism contest ensues sometimes.

However, I checked the definition of minimalism. It is a philosophy which advocates focusing on the things that are most important in life and ignoring all the meaningless clutter. I don’t think the criteria is fulfilled by cutting a poem down to a few letters however. Your important things need to stand out – and unimportant things visibly fade.

  • Spirituality – if you are telling me your theology you may be being didactic rather than spiritual. It may be a GREAT poem, if your intention is to be didactic or catechize.

It’s just me, but I would expect a spiritual poem to possibly be mystical, emotional, filled with faith, trust, awe or even pain. I would also accept alternate spiritualties – like those derived from Christianity, Paganism, Indigenous cultures, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism etc.

  • Lyrical – the definition of lyric is unclear.

It could mean whimsical and / or sentimental. It could mean certain mainly natural images, or use of fairly standard rhymes. It could mean suitable to be used as the verse of a song. One definition that seemed helpful was that a lyric poem meditates rather than narrates.

Remember in this competition, you were judged against your own aims. Some poems may have been great – but not fit the aim they professed. Does it matter if you set out to write one poem and end up with another? NO! Of course not, if it is a good poem.

Other poems may have needed a tiny polish – something I think you would have got around to yourselves over time…

Please feel free to comment,


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Date: 9/28/2017 8:24:00 AM
Thank you for my placement, Cecilia - I am glad you liked my poem. This was a fun contest!
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Date: 9/26/2017 9:15:00 AM
Hi Cecelia: Thank you for considering my poem and for my placement. I am trying to start writing again and your encouragement is giving me the boost I needed. Your guidelines are very helpful. Hugs, SuZ
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Date: 9/25/2017 9:45:00 PM
Many sponsors don't enforce their rules. In my past contests, there have been many I NA'd because of rule violations. Some of the poems I really liked, but they had to go. Sponsoring, when done right, takes a lot of time. So if the entrants don't want to take the time to ensure compliance, then they don't deserve to be placed. There are those rules who's interpretation can be varied. Not sure about 'stress the aim' with your contest, but, if the form used could be considered complying with that rule, then their placements may be valid. Again, I am not sure about this because I was not familiar with your contest description. Just throwing it out there.
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Hopkins-Drewer Avatar
Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer
Date: 9/25/2017 10:30:00 PM
Thank you Rob. I thought the poems implied their own aims fairly well, but I see I was a little lax. On the other hand, many entrants spell my name wrong (even though several contests back I asked them not to include sponsor name), if I nixed all of these, I would be discouraging many people. I do however, value a "clean" presentation.
Date: 9/25/2017 3:32:00 AM
I have read several of the winning poems that didn't stress their aims at all yet still won - I wonder how you can place them if they didn't follow your strict rules? regards Jan
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Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer
Date: 9/25/2017 6:24:00 PM
My bad Jan. Thank you for pointing it out.
Date: 9/25/2017 4:21:00 PM
It seems pretty pointless having rules if you aren't going to enforce them!
Hopkins-Drewer Avatar
Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer
Date: 9/25/2017 3:43:00 PM
When they did not stress their aims, I assumed using the form was their aim. You are correct - 3 did manage to get placements as 1's that way. They could be 2's or 3's along with others who gave additional criteria or commentary. (Also rule violations).
Date: 9/24/2017 10:12:00 PM
Thank you for my placement :)
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Date: 9/24/2017 7:39:00 PM
Oh, Goodness, I can see you are really going to have your hands full in judging this contest. It seems to me that you are going to have to read every contest description, because... What if in the original contest, breaking the rules of the form was part of the contest requirements? I have sponsored contests in which I have asked the poets to make the form their own, here a trek, there a trek, plus, often a sponsor will ask for entries written in a manner in which the sponsor has edited the form. Do you see what I am saying? Have fun with that! :-)love and hugs, Catie
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Lindsey Avatar
Catie Lindsey
Date: 9/24/2017 7:53:00 PM
Yeah, since I break the rules quite often, I think it would be fun :-)
Hopkins-Drewer Avatar
Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer
Date: 9/24/2017 7:51:00 PM
Thank you Catie. I tried to narrow it down, by asking people to give me ONE CRITERION to judge them by. Some gave me multiple, in which case I used what appeared to be their main one. You are also right, we could have a BREAKING THE RULES contest.
Lindsey Avatar
Catie Lindsey
Date: 9/24/2017 7:51:00 PM
Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize the contest was over. Thank you for placing my poem. I am so happy you liked it. Thanks! Love and hugs, Catie
Date: 9/24/2017 7:27:00 PM
Thank you so much for my placement.. very honored, Cecelia.... Congratulations to all the winners... ~`*
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Roper Avatar
Eve Roper
Date: 9/24/2017 8:50:00 PM
:) you made my day
Hopkins-Drewer Avatar
Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer
Date: 9/24/2017 7:54:00 PM
Thank you Eve. There was no priority implied in the order of the number 1 winners, but yours was one of the most successful.

My Past Blog Posts

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The down-side of competitions and what I'm learning on Poetry Soup
Date Posted: 5/31/2017 7:26:00 PM

My Recent Poems

Date PostedPoemTitleFormCategories
2/15/2018 The Country Stroll Pantoumautumn,dream,loneliness,s
2/13/2018 Valentines' Day Acrosticfeelings,loneliness,valen
9/15/2017 Silhouette of a Bird Ottava rimabird,nature,
9/15/2017 Xmas in July Acrosticcelebration,christmas,cul
9/15/2017 Dream of a hot Summer Day Pantoumsummer,sun,winter,
9/12/2017 Create a character contest Dramatic monologueanimal,humor,humorous,
6/16/2017 Blue Daisy Chain Quatrainflower,peace,
6/13/2017 The Owl Totem Blank versebird,mythology,native ame
6/4/2017 I am the Cat Pantoumcat,humor,humorous,
6/2/2017 What Tomorrow Brings Pantoumfuture,grandmother,moving
5/24/2017 Beauty Cinquainbeauty,meaningful,
5/20/2017 The Knight Of Haute-Savoie Rhymefantasy,sky,
5/15/2017 Over to You - Estella Blank versebetrayal,loss,love hurts,
5/15/2017 Ideals Sonnetheaven,hope,night,sky,
5/14/2017 The Adventures of LBS Rhymebooks,childhood,racism,
5/12/2017 The Sprite of Mountaintop Lake Rhymeadventure,fantasy,nature,
5/10/2017 Lost Loves Rhymefeelings,longing,lost,los
5/6/2017 Sonnet for May Showers Sonnetmay,weather,
5/5/2017 The Windfarms Acrosticenvironment,green,mountai
4/29/2017 No Versespoken word,strength,
4/25/2017 The Wet Cat Lanternecat,weather,
4/25/2017 Back in Time Free versefantasy,perspective,visio
4/22/2017 Circle of Love Dodoitsulove,
4/22/2017 Twenty Years from Now Sonnetfuture,moon,science ficti
4/21/2017 The Hellhound - from mythology Rubaiyathorror,urban,
4/20/2017 The Vampire - Need Ninettefantasy,mythology,
4/19/2017 A Friend Went Missing - Urban Legend Rhymebereavement,murder,violen
4/19/2017 Mother - Pleiades Versefamily,mother,
4/18/2017 The Amateur Stargazer Quatrainnature,night,stars,
4/14/2017 Loneliness - Pleiades Versefeelings,loneliness,solit
4/13/2017 Angels and Lyres Rhymeangel,inspiration,mytholo
4/13/2017 An Easter Haiku Haikuchristian,easter,
4/6/2017 The Rainbow Serpent Free versefantasy,peace,racism,spir
4/5/2017 The Kraken Coupletfantasy,nature,
4/2/2017 On Huxley's Brave New World Rhymescience fiction,society,
4/1/2017 The Betrayal Rhymebetrayal,break up,love,
4/1/2017 Plastic Flowers Free versesociety,teen,
4/1/2017 To the Intruder in Mary's Garden Free verseabuse,nursery rhyme,psych
3/31/2017 Rejuvenation Quatrainfeelings,first love,scien
3/31/2017 The Resurected Woman Rhymeadventure,break up,scienc
3/31/2017 The Cyborg Versefantasy,science fiction,
3/31/2017 Encounter with a Griffin Free verseabuse,fantasy,scary,
3/30/2017 Childbirth on a Barren Planet Free versecorruption,future,science
3/30/2017 The Illusionist Quatrainbreak up,love hurts,scien
3/30/2017 The Reconciliation Dramatic Verseadventure,bereavement,gri
3/30/2017 Sub-Station One Cinquainscience fiction,society,t

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I Am Rhymebible,blessing,power,
FAITH IN TOMORROW Pantoumencouraging,future,

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