Feb 2018 Poetry – Ballad – JUDGE’S OVERALL CRITIQUE

Write a ballad based on a dream you had. Try to reproduce the sensations of the dream. 6 four line stanzas with rhyme scheme abcb.
Ballad: Min 24 lines, Max 40 lines


It is always an honour for me to judge poetry, in all its forms, as it is both a challenge and a hope that I will find an amazing entry that shines out above the rest.

The term “BALLAD” is derived from the Latin word “BELLARE” meaning to dance, which implies music and rhythm. It is a poem, originally sung, that uses regular rhythms and rhymes to tell a story. By using simple repetition and rhyme, the memory  is helped to remember complex and colourful cultural history. By using refrains or choruses, it was possible to impart daily news of death, horror, love, corruption, defeat or victory to the far corners of the country. A travelling minstrel’s job was to deliver news by song, thus engaging the population with melodious commentary on current issues; as well as reminding people of historic events. This arrangement produced a narrative poem told in compact dramatic scenes with simple dialogue and concrete imagery plus a catchy refrain or chorus.

There are two types of ballad: a folk or popular ballad, and a literary ballad. Either one of these formats tells stories such as Samuel Coleridge “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or  John Keats “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.”  There were many unknown stories that occurred back in ancient times but these have been lost. “The Oxford Book Of Ballads” edited by J. Kinsley (1969), provides many examples for further reading.

There were nine entries, in this competition, and I applaud all the entrants who made the attempt. Unfortunately, only one entrant read, understood and applied the given instructions so, by virtue of this compliance, first place is awarded to:
1) Awande Mabaso whose entry followed all the rules, and using chorus to tell the story, which was a good one. (NOTE: This entry was disqualified. Competition rules require that entrants must be members of the South African Writers’ Circle).
2) George de Beer receives second place for using repetition to emphasise his story.
3) Angelique Pacheco in third place with an interesting tale.

Please read your individual critiques for comments which, I hope, will help and encourage all the entrants to try again but to also read what is required before plunging in.

MAY 2018