Sunday, April 19, 2009

Being a Fabulous Judge

Judging 23 poets was agony: There were 3 official prizes ($50, $25, $15), 4 poets who deserved those prizes, and 3 more poets quite impressive. But those "everybody wins" competitions are lame, so I did my job at Saturday's "Poetry Throwdown," arranged by the St. Louis Writers Guild, the first competition of its kind. I was the "fabulous judge," according to the Guild's p.r. Comedian Mike McGuire was the emcee, and Rebecca Carron, president of the Guild, organized the event. I hope there will be more. I'll compete.

I scored contestants on appearance (could the poet transcend it and become the spirit of poetry?), the poems (I also had hard copies to re-read), delivery, and audience response: not applause, but whether he or she could hit us in the heart, brain, or gut. First place went to Eliana Parnas, a 16-year-old who flawlessly and with good pacing read good poetry from handwritten sheets, twisting us around her little finger. Second place to Matt Freeman, who can mesmerize and lift a whole room. Third place to Marcel Toussaint, who got and held people's attention. This wasn't a "poetry slam" but a reading -- only not so "unplugged' and low-key. It was a show. The event was big fun and all St. Louis poets get props from me.


  1. Catherine,
    You were indeed a fabulous judge. SLWG truly appreciates everything you did to make the "Throwdown" a poetic success.
    Thank you!!!
    And thanks to everyone who entered the contest. I believe you ALL were winners.

  2. Catherine,

    As always, you brought judgment and discipline to art and elevated the event to one worth competing in.

    You have our continued admiration and inspire us to be our best.


  3. Wish I could have been there.

    Go Matt!

    Go You!