We look for poems that are unique and expressive with some measure of the following –
Subject – The poem should have something to say which is unique or important. Poems should avoid stating the obvious or repeating what has already been said before, definitely avoid cliché or polemics unless they have a new way of expressing old ideas or diatribes.
Narrative – The poem should ideally find new and creative ways of presenting their message or plotline especially if the ideas, opinions, images etc., of their message are not new. Poems that stand out have usually found a new or creative way of presenting their subject.
Brevity - is the soul of communication so poems should avoid being unnecessarily long or over-stating their point.
Imagery & Expression – Poems should avoid cliched or long established images, metaphors, similes and allegories. Poets are advised to screen their work for tired or hackneyed descriptions and symbols or concepts established by the great poets. (A mentor may help here.)
Multiple Meaning – Poetry and advertising ‘copy’ frequently use carefully constructed lines or even employment of a single word or phrase that in the course of the poem has more than one meaning. This is often the source of a poems power and impact or can develop the message or imagery by moving from one meaning to another. This also negates the need to labour a message allowing a poem to be profound while being brief.
Complementary – Impact also derives from finding two or more words or images which impact on each other through dissonance / conflict or through assonance. This can enforce message, empower imagery and facilitate brevity.
Structure – The way a poem is structured can influence it profoundly including line length, whether the poem employs rhyme, stanza size, content and function and the visual appearance of the poem.
Poetics – Most of all we look for the 'colour of saying' as Dylan Thomas called it when a poet creates a lovely, powerful or descriptive phrase or combination of words especially when they have thought of combinations that are new and inventive (Who’d have thought a skyline could look like a patient on a hospital table until T S Eliot!?)
Of course, we do not expect to see all of these in a single new piece of work. We dream of that because it means that we have found the next great poet. Poets can re-investigate old themes, for example. But we shortlisted those poems that presented some of these expectations.