Triumph and Disaster

“If you can look on triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same..”
says Kipling, and it’s excellent advice for those entering poetry competitions. “This game is mainly about failure” Jack Nicklaus said, and he won more than most. Three years ago I won third prize in the Guernsey competition to write poems for the buses – short poems displayed on the buses travelling around the island. With a dozen others, I went from the UK to the Guernsey Literary Festival – we read our poems in a local church, went to literary events, were given a coach tour of the island and had a great time. So when the competition came round again, I entered it with high hopes. Closing date: January 31st.
You wait for the phone call, the triumphant e-mail to hit your inbox. Nothing. Next day, nothing. Gradually, you train yourself into the brutal truth that the wonderful poem you wrote and loved is not among the winners. This time, somebody else gets the prize. It’s a routine, and I’ve done it so many times, but it still hurts. And then, this morning, more than two weeks after the deadline, I get a phone call telling me I’ve won second prize.