NaPoWriMo’s prompt: “…write a poem that prominently features the idea of play. It could be a poem about a sport or game, a poem about people who play (or are playing a game), or even a poem in the form of the rules for a sport or game that you’ve just made up…”
In general, I’m not a fan of reality television, but there is one show I enjoy: the French version of Top Chef. The spontaneous poetry production, based on fresh daily ingredients – I mean, generative prompts – graciously offered by NaPoWriMo, inspired the following:
Top Poet is the only reality competition that makes sense;
poets compete with reality all the time.
Participants are judged by a panel of professional poets
and other notables from the writing industry.
Recent judges have included Ross Gay, Marie Howe, Kay Ryan
Naomi Shihab Nye and Tony Hoagland, with the host, Billy Collins.
One or more contestants are eliminated in each episode
based on their ability to respond to generative prompts.
The show has spawned multiple spinoffs:
Top Poet Masters featuring established award-wining poets
Top Poet: Just Deserts a second chance for those accused of plagiarism
Top Poet Junior with contestants in their early teens
Top Poet uses a progressive elimination format. Each season
starts with a dozen poets selected through Submittable.
The poets are brought to the season’s host country, provided food and
housing for the course of the season but no access to outside communication.
In each episode, the poets participate in an Elimination Challenge.
The loser of the Elimination Challenge has to head back to reality.
After the Elimination challenge, the poets report to
the Judges’ Table where the jury deliberates on the best and worst poems.
The top individuals are called in and may be asked questions about
their poems before they are notified of their status.
The poorest poets are grouped and asked to leave,
“Please pack your pencils and go.”
This format continues until two or three poets remain.
Each finalist is challenged to create a chapbook;
The poet with the best one, as determined by the judges,
is declared “Top Poet” of the season and gets published.
Written by Elizabeth Boquet, April 2018