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The Judging Process - Gary Radice's Blog

About Gary Radice
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I'm a married '50 something' who lives near Liverpool, UK. 

started writing poetry as a hobby after taking early retirement from my role as a Registered Mental Health Nurse / Brain Injury Rehabilitation Liaision Nurse.

Themes of the seaside, railways and the naivety of childhood crop up often in my poems and I like to write (usually in rhyme) just what I see, no matter how trivial that may be.

I also enjoy telling stories through my work, occasionally putting my own spin on ideas from the classics.

Other than at school, the only poems I have ever written are those that you can read here at Poetry Soup.

Thank you



My most read poem (Rhyme) of October 2020



My most read poem (Free Verse) of October 2020



My least read poem of October 2020:


The Judging Process

Blog Posted:10/28/2020 8:21:00 AM

I was fascinated by a 2018 Poetry Society article I came across on-line recently whereby several judges (who were either about to judge or have judged a National Poetry Competition) answered questions from an online audience about their own judging process. 

I thought it might be of particular interest to those of you who kindly take the time to sponsor and judge the contests here at Poetry Soup (I salute you all), to those thinking of sponsoring a contest or indeed, those of you, like myself, who just enjoy entering the competitions.

Put yourself, for a few minutes, into that mindset of a judge and share / keep to yourself  / your answers to the following questions that I've hand-picked from the article.(linked below)

1) Are you more of a 'first line' or 'last line' poet?

2) Do you find that your initial response to a poem is affected by or determined by your mood on the day it is read?  

3) Is there anything about a poem that would make you instinctively switch off from reading it?

4) Do you believe that those entering competitions are influenced too much by their ideas and expectations of the judges and write to the detriment of their poetry? 

5) Where do you stand on 'raw' and 'cooked' poetry? (I didn't know what the heck this meant until I read the following..) Should a competition poem always be the finished article? 

If you are interested in how the judges responded to these questions (and others) then the full article can be read at:

Cheers - Gary

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Date: 11/7/2020 4:13:00 AM
When I do a contest, most of the time it has a certain form required and usually a theme or from a picture I have posted. I am very easy on the poems because so many poets are just learning. I usually eliminate first those that seem not to even try to write a poem about the theme or from a picture then also if it is not to the form as I asked. If I ask for a certain number of syllables or words per line if that is not correct out goes the poem. I am not a professional judge and don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about their writing. It is my choice or my opinion about the poem only not everyone's idea. Sara
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Gary Radice
Date: 11/8/2020 2:03:00 AM
Hi Sara. I'm sure judging isn't easy at all - I don't think I could do it. :) I agree totally with you that people shouldn't take the competitions too seriously. It brings me back to my own ethos: I write and put out what I'm happy with and if it's appreciated by someone else (via competition or otherwise) then all the better. I must add that PS has opened my eyes to fantastic poetry and types of poetry I never knew existed and have been given excellent advice along the way.
Kendrick Avatar
Sara Kendrick
Date: 11/7/2020 2:09:00 PM
Gary, Judging a contest is not easy. It takes time and some thought. Since I am not a professional judge, it is my opinion and the person could enter the same poem in another contest and place if I did not place them. People should not take it too seriously. Sara
Radice Avatar
Gary Radice
Date: 11/7/2020 5:28:00 AM
Thank you for your comments Sara - they make for great reading. I think you and everyone who sponsors the contests deserve so much gratitude. I think the point you make about reading the poems several times is a very good one as is your point about poets (like myself) just learning. Cheers - Gary
Kendrick Avatar
Sara Kendrick
Date: 11/7/2020 4:15:00 AM
I usually try to read each poem several times because it is unfair to read it only once. If that poem is vulgar or uses obscene language or has hurtful ideas I might not read it all the way through and immediately eliminate it. Sara
Date: 11/1/2020 3:21:00 PM
Gary you are right about being a judge..not all are cut out for it..the main requirement is a ' thick skin' and always judge 'blind' if you wish to avoid the accusation of favouritism ' .Too many entrants to contests fail to realise ..the placings made are 'subjective' and not a permanent reflection upon their poetic prowess .Notwithstanding these downsides the 'barnabas' moments from an entrant make up for the effort involved in being a sponsor
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Gary Radice
Date: 11/5/2020 4:02:00 AM
Thanks for your comments Brian. I have to add that when it comes to competitions at PS, whether it's a placement or not, I just love the ride. :) Cheers - Gary
Date: 10/29/2020 2:30:00 AM
My response to these additional two aspects as a 'longtime' contest sponsor would be ...whether a piece is poetry or prose is 'pure academia navel gazing' it matters not!.. as 'reading aloud' can raise a 'read by the eyes' (mind) to an even higher level by using this additional human communicative sensory connection
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Gary Radice
Date: 10/30/2020 10:26:00 AM
Thanks for your valued comments Brian. I was interested in the following response from a judge: Kim Moore: I will definitely be reading poems out to see what they sound like and to see how the line breaks fall, particularly once we get down to the longlist and the shortlist. Some poems will need alliteration and measured lines, and some won’t – but whatever formal choices the poet makes should serve the poem as well. I’m actually interested in work that crosses these boundaries of prose and poetry.
Date: 10/29/2020 2:21:00 AM
Two other key aspect mentioned in the link in your blog Gary are ..."poetry is (or needs to be!) more than truncated prose" and "reading your poem aloud in addition to reading it with the eyes"
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Date: 10/28/2020 9:53:00 AM
My response to the questions posed Gary ...1) neither..2) Yes..much like going to an art gallery..3) Yes... if it does not accord to poetic principles...and..agendas..political,pc,woke and of course as an evangelical Christian some things will never appeal..4)imho poetry should be inspired by our individual muse..of course any contest theme can inspire that muse to write.5. like a painting poems can be edited but this is a dangerous pastime and needs great care..just doubt we sponsors have differing reasons to so do..especially in a workshop like PS
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Gary Radice
Date: 10/28/2020 10:59:00 AM
Thanks for your comments Brian. :) As a writer of poems rather than a judge, I place much importance on both the first line and the last line but I certainly struggle more with the latter. I like your description of PS being a workshop. It has opened my eyes to so many different types of poetry and encouraged me to experiment. Re 5) I must admit to enjoying the challenge of Gregory's competitions - making a shorter poem from a longer poem so that it stands as a single finished piece in it's own right. I've had various levels of success but it ties in to this idea of PS being a form of workshop. I don't envy any judge's job to be honest.

My Past Blog Posts

The Judging Process
Date Posted: 10/28/2020 8:21:00 AM
Poetry Soup: One Year In
Date Posted: 9/10/2020 3:35:00 AM
The Importance of the Title
Date Posted: 8/12/2020 12:47:00 PM
Poetry and English GCSE Exams
Date Posted: 8/4/2020 12:54:00 PM
Does anyone agree with these tips?
Date Posted: 5/3/2020 9:26:00 AM
Poetry Power
Date Posted: 4/6/2020 4:06:00 AM

My Recent Poems

Date PostedPoemTitleFormCategories
11/24/2020 At Beeching Halt Rhymeengland,history,loss,trav
10/23/2020 Wonderland: Prologue Rhymecharacter,literature,lond
10/18/2020 Wonderland V: The Sailor's Tale Rhymemental illness,sea,
10/10/2020 The World's Greatest Hero Rhymeadventure,
10/9/2020 Open Doors Rhymehope,peace,war,
10/5/2020 Estuary Free verseenvironment,growing up,me
9/28/2020 Picture Box Rhymeappreciation,emotions,ima
9/24/2020 Diamonds Rhymedecember,winter,
9/16/2020 Class of '66 Rhymechildhood,memory,
9/12/2020 The Golden Mile Rhymefamily,light,night,
9/9/2020 On The 6: Again Rhymejourney,london,people,tra
8/26/2020 Hedgehogs Rhyme3rd grade,4th grade,5th g
8/23/2020 Brilliant Minds Rhymefeelings,imagery,life,sta
8/7/2020 The Signal Box Rhymeart,beauty,imagery,life,l
7/31/2020 The Obituary Poem Rhymedeath,humorous,obituary,
7/27/2020 Postcard Home Rhymeholiday,life,silence,summ
7/19/2020 Wonderland IV: The Innkeeper's Tale Rhymebetrayal,conflict,drink,f
7/11/2020 Toy Trains Rhyme6th grade,christmas,feeli
7/6/2020 Wonderland III: The Hairdresser's Tale Rhymeabuse,dark,dream,fantasy,
6/29/2020 Light Versebeach,light,
6/28/2020 Wonderland II: The Watchmaker's Tale Rhymebetrayal,business,fantasy
6/21/2020 Jukebox Rhymeappreciation,music,
6/20/2020 Ola Voganista Vogonnonsense,
6/18/2020 Niceville Rhymechange,life,loss,people,p
6/8/2020 Strength Free versefaith,funeral,hope,loss,s
6/6/2020 The Fun Of The Fair Rhymefun,life,
6/1/2020 Mind The Gap Rhymelondon,
5/30/2020 The View From Pisa Rhymeholiday,humorous,travel,
5/26/2020 Old Delhi Rhymeholiday,poverty,social,tr
5/16/2020 The Story Of A Shop Rhyme5th grade,6th grade,7th g
5/8/2020 Woodland Walk Rhymenature,summer,sun,sunshin
5/2/2020 The Stanza By The Sea Rhymegreen,planet,sea,water,
4/24/2020 The Barbican Rhymeart,london,places,
4/21/2020 The Sun In The Square Rhymeholiday,summer,sun,travel
4/14/2020 A Door In The Wall Rhymeappreciation,encouraging,
4/3/2020 Towards Euston Rhymejourney,travel,
3/28/2020 From A Window Rhymechange,childhood,family,l
3/19/2020 Sheep Rhymeallegory,metaphor,
3/17/2020 The Albany Rhymechildhood,film,memory,
3/4/2020 The Greasy Spoon Rhymeappreciation,change,engla
2/27/2020 Ride The Tide Rhymebeach,metaphor,write,
2/20/2020 Morecambe Bay Rhymeart,beach,england,storm,
2/14/2020 The Last Meal Of A Drowning Mouse Rhymefood,humorous,
2/9/2020 A Gap In The Traffic Rhymeconfusion,emotions,life,
1/25/2020 The Garden Seat Rhymedeath,garden,life,loss,lo
1/20/2020 Winter Shuffle Rhymeengland,nature,snow,weath
1/15/2020 Lives Long Gone Rhymeemotions,loss,love,memory
1/10/2020 Go Rhymeengland,forgiveness,life,
12/31/2019 House For Sale Rhymehome,house,loss,memory,mo
12/23/2019 Wonderland I: The Milliner's Tale Rhymedrink,fantasy,imagery,lit
11/20/2019 Forever Rhymehome,loss,love,peace,peop
11/8/2019 Anorakorama Rhymefun,life,memory,nostalgia
11/5/2019 Into The Land Rhymefreedom,tribute,
10/27/2019 my very nice day at the seaside Rhymebeach,childhood,memory,to
10/21/2019 Carnforth Rhymeengland,feelings,film,nos
10/1/2019 Happiland Free versechildhood,dream,life,memo
10/1/2019 The Marram Grass Free versechildhood,england,family,
10/1/2019 Chapel Lane Rhymeemotions,loss,love,memory
10/1/2019 The Emperor's New Poem Rhymebullying,political,
9/29/2019 Fog Rhymechildhood,confusion,myste
9/28/2019 Acetates And Overheads Rhymeanger,business,emotions,w
9/27/2019 The Critic Rhymeangst,celebrity,introspec
9/26/2019 The Host Rhymeappreciation,daffodils,im
9/26/2019 Rocking Chair And Roll Rhymechildhood,memory,music,
9/26/2019 This Reality Rhymelife,political,technology

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