It included a ‘Pet of the Week’ feature (guilt trip your parents into buying a puppy you’ll lose interest in within a month, yaaaaay!), photos from local child-friendly events, and reader submissions of poetry, stories, and artwork.
The quality of these artistic contributions left much to be desired. Often, they’d blatant rip-offs of famous works. William Wordsworth’s daffodils poem featured every other week, supposedly written by ‘Sarah K., 10 years old’ or ‘Sam M., aged 6 years’. Even as a child, I remember thinking that the paper's editors were clearly enormous dumbasses.
When they weren’t plagiarised, the poetry was usually along the lines of ‘I have a cat/It likes to sit on the mat/Sometimes I give it a pat/It does not wear a hat’.
These inclusions didn’t bother me so much: they were shit, yes, but at least they’d tried. Clearly not much. But a bit.
Given the subpar quality of the other compositions, I decided I had nothing to lose in submitting my own. So, in a fit of inspiration following a violent tummy-bug, I sent in my original piece, entitled ‘Sick’. I don’t remember a great deal about it, but it rhymed beautifully, and used wonderful imagery of ‘castle moats’ of vomit, and fever-induced prayers for a speedy death.
I waited for my great public literary debut. Week after week, I scoured the kids’ section for my poem. When it didn’t appear, I began desperately searching the rest of the newspaper, thinking perhaps they editors had decided it was so good, they chose to publish it in the main bulk of the newspaper. Say, on page 2 or something.
But after a few months it still hadn’t been printed. My parents suggested I resend it – it could’ve got lost in the mail or misplaced! So I did. Four times. Until my pride could not handle any more rejection. I gave up. Admitted defeat. Let my dreams of poetic glory die.
Wordsworth continued to feature heavily each Saturday.
In the coming years, my disappointment morphed into rage. ‘Sick’ was too edgy for their philistine publication. That was the problem. The suicidal thoughts of a feverish 8 year old weren’t appreciated by the closed-minded editors. They probably didn’t even understand it. Ha! Morons!
For the past 14 years, I’ve comforted myself with the knowledge that their idiot brains could not comprehend my artistic genius. My tortured soul was simply too complex for them.
Until last week, when Wagon Wheels’ Facebook fan page announced a poetry contest. The prize was an ENTIRE BOX OF WAGON WHEELS.
Holy crap. Hooooly crraaaap. Now that is an incentive. This time, the simple pride of being published was not enough – something big was at up for grabs. AN ENTIRE BOX OF CHOCOLATE AND BISCUIT AND MARSHMALLOW AND
were high. JAM.
I committed myself to composing the best goddamn poem about an oddly-named chocolate biscuit ever. I didn’t want to get cocky, given my past experiences. But after viewing the other entries, I began to feel fairly confident I was in with a chance.
I waited all day for the winner to be announced. AND……..it wasn’t me. But not only was it not me, it was a fucking acrostic poem.
Excuse me? We are not in grade 2. That will not cut it. Sorry.
I know I seem bitter. I’m not. Really. Acrostic Poem Girl: I'm really pleased for you (I'm not). I accept that you won, fair and square (I don't). I hope you enjoy your giant crate of Wagon Wheels (I hope you choke on them and die, you nasty little facebook whore).
I was pretty bummed that I didn’t win. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that my unique brand of poetry is just not what the public wants. And it was even harder to come to terms with the lack of a bulk supply of Wagon Wheels in my life. I made a silent promise: never again will I put myself on the line like that. I will not subject myself to the humiliation and crushing, devastating disappointment of poetic failure. I would close this chapter of my life, and turn to bigger and better things. I’d stick to stuff I know I’m good at, like making lists and impersonating magpies and incorporating Nutella into my meals.
Then today, in a fit of mindless Wikipedia browsing, I came across a glimmer of hope. Apparently, Taylor Swift once won a national poetry contest.
Of ‘she wears high heels/I wear sneakers/She’s cheer captain/And I’m in the bleachers’ fame.
It’s a somewhat depressing reflection on judges’ tastes, proving once and for all that their opinions should not be valued particularly highly. So I should not feel too bad about my repeated failure.
It also demonstrates that you really cannot pick who will win these things. If Taylor Swift can win a poetry contest, then surely anybody can have hope in their abilities.
No matter which way you choose to look at it – THE DREAM LIVES!!!!