Saturday, July 14, 2007

Men Win Prizes

The 2007 TLS/Foyles poetry competition has been won by three men. Not surprising really, as nine out of eleven short-listed poems posted on the TLS website for anonymous judging by the public were by men. The results are presented on the TLS web site.

The winner was Paul Groves whose poem 'The Mauve Tam-o'-Shanter' was the only poem that really convinced Connaissances' sex quiz entrants that it was written by a man with 5/5 of participants believing it to be the case.

The second placed poem by John Whitworth was 'The Examiners', which 3/5 readers guessed correctly was by a man. My own view was that: "the style of the poem is evocative of Gilbert and Sullivan (both men) and a bit reminiscent of James Fenton or the nonsense of Edward Lear. We can thus deduce that it is possibly a man writing."

The third placed poem was by A.B. Jackson who had two poems in the final shortlist, of which 'Acts' won. This was, indeed, my favourite poem on the shortlist. 3/5 readers thought this was a man writing, and it was.

So how did our guessers (four women and one man, get on?)

A) Acts was by a man (3/5 correct).
B) Beach Kites was by a woman (4/5 correct).
C) The Adders Skin was by a man (4/5 correct).
D) The Fair Issue Sits the Eton Entrance Exam was by a man (1/5 correct).
E) The Modified Mercalli Scale of Earthquake Intensity was by a man (2/4 correct).
F) The Mauve Tam-o'-Shanter was by a man (5/5 correct).
G) Incident was by a woman (2/4 correct).
H) At a provincial zoo was by a man (3/5 correct).
I) The Examiners was by a man (3/5 correct).
J) Refusal Shoes was by a man (4/5 correct).
K) The Side Line was by a man (1/5 correct).

So, we got a majority of correct guesses in 7/11 of the poems. We would have done much better if we had just written 'Male' against every entry... If you're interested in the reasoning behind the gender guessing choices, have a read here.

So, who won Connaissances' gender guessing contest?

Perceptive Clare Dudman was the winner with 8/11 correct.
Closely followed by Beverley, Denise and myself with 7/11 correct.
Trailed by 'V' with 3/11 correct. Never mind V.

Please send me your address Clare and I will dispatch your prize. You can choose from one of the following:

Anna Akhmatova's 'Poems'
Women's Poetry in France 1965-1995
Issue 8 of Upstairs at Duroc

One final question. Who selected the 9/11 men in the short list from over 3000 entries? We are told it was the TLS editors. Who are these editors? Mick Imlah presented the results, so he is one. Peter Stothard is the overall editor, so he might be another. Could they guess that their short-listed poems were nearly all written by men as well as we could? We can only guess...

1 comment:

Clare said...

Whey-hey - I'm so pleased! Thank you Jonathan. Definitely the best thing that's happened to me over the past few weeks. I'll send you my address by email - and since the men have won I think I'd better redress the balance and plump for the women. So I choose The Women's Poetry In France 1965-1995.

Thanks again, Jonathan - you've made my day.