One of the things I like about verse is that there are so many ways it can be written. Available to anyone is a huge variety of tunes and methods, shapes and rhythms, patterns and intentions. And there's always this extra feature: whatever you set out to make is unlikely to be quite what you end up with; if your poem works, with a bit of luck it will surprise not only your readers but yourself.
That it should work is, for me, the chief requirement. Poems are products of imagination, intelligence and feeling; in another way they are also strange machines which fulfil a function. They do something: tell a story, sing a song, paint a world, make a statement. And sometimes they do all those things together.
In this term's batch, there are plenty of effective poems, exploring the wide range of possibilities. Quite a few made me laugh, another of poetry's useful services; several, nearly the opposite. One or two I've chosen might, I suppose, be regarded as imitative. I see nothing whatever the matter with that; imitation is one of the ways we learn to do anything. Certainly example can't hurt and anyone who likes writing poems would be well advised to read as many by others as possible.
Finally, can we have even more contributions? Stir your stumps, the West Country; bang them in, East Midlands. Scotland and Northern Ireland, too, seem curiously withdrawn. It's a great delight to see these brave endeavours and everything gets a read.
She's not going dancing tonight, Someone stole her rhythm Then came back for her sight.
Maybe I could kickstart her, Back into what she used to be, Watching someone in slow motion It's a tragedy to me.
She used to kick her legs right over her head, Now I heave her off the toilet and help her into bed.
By Katie Hunt, aged 17, who receives Penguin Modern Poets 1. Submitted by Joan Secombe of Bishop Luffa School, Chichester, West Sussex, who receives the Poetry Society teachers' newsletter, a quarterly bulletin which includes features on innovative approaches to poetry in the classroom. For Poetry Society events, ring 0171 240 4810.
This is a remarkable poem and a very moving one. There is no consolation in it, except perhaps for the small comfort of being able to voice one's sorrow and outrage in a poem. Lines two and three are brilliantly effective in their desolate way, the rhymes are very surely handled throughout, and the long last line has exactly the right feeling of awkward hopelessness.