Charles Evans


Dear Competitor, I write to you about
your poem ‘Solution’, which was considered
here but has implications beyond our remit.
Those four shocking stanzas have finished us.
One fellow judge, a noted poet, took his life
just yesterday, the second, so I heard, has booked
a one-way ticket to Alaska. The plain fact is, after
what you’ve done, no one can write poems any more,
‘Solution’ sounds the death knell, and
poetry must be abandoned.

We thought at first it was impossible
to blend so many forms in one submission.
You’ve killed the sonnet, undone the villanelle,
and it’s clear the ballad is beyond redemption.
Did you really want to write the poem that ends
all poems? But it goes much further. The poem
was not well received in Rome, and Hoc Non Placet
is the official designation. It’s not surprising, since
you’ve also settled the debate on God, and all
theology must be rewritten.

I am authorised to tell you that COBRA,
meeting in emergency session, fearing outbreaks
of public disorder if your poem is more widely
known, has stepped in decisively. We have been
contacted and required to take immediate action.
The anthology has been pulped, results amended
and remaining copies of ‘Solution’ all destroyed.
We understand how disappointed you must feel
and trust you will appreciate our decision, but
authority must be respected.

You should note that anonymity is needed,
no answer is required, and no further action
will be taken provided that ‘Solution’ is withdrawn
from this and any future competition. You should
also check that any copy of ‘Solution’ stored in
electronic form is now deleted. We send our most
sincere apologies, and feel confident that you will
understand the absolute imperative which holds
in politics, religion, and all poetry, that
the status quo must be preserved.

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