Every competition it’s the same thing, we poets get sucked into endless debates on Facebook as to whether there is a ‘male’ of ‘female’ way of writing and whether this is responsible for female writers getting less coverage.
So here’s at last a way for those who believe so strongly in the gender binary to test themselves. Among these poem excerpts (taken randomly from whatever I had closest to hand: magazines, anthologies, pamphlets, and of course the internet) can you guess which ones were written by a man and which ones were written by a woman? To make things more balanced, I’ve also included excerpts by two openly genderqueer poets (i.e poets who sees themselves as other than male or female).
‘Where alleys wake to condom wrappers,
kebab meat, a ballet pump, last week
a van pulled up and it was blood.’
‘We came trained to turn the land on
to the sun’s look, teach this world to be ours;
as others dress the hills — smart-lichen to blush
hot green across cold red — we drill the shining
soil, and slowly, in these thrice-stretched
summers, it Marsforms us.’
‘Yesterday the birds were shaped like paperweights
and we did little to protect them.’
‘That is the desert of new beginnings, of ginger
tinctured toasts and the musk of lingering smiles
in the sinless bazaars’
‘Last night the girls got their part in the nativity.
Lydia is reprising last season’s triumph as the
Angel of Glory, all blondeness and glitter
looming like a Valkyrie over star-struck shepherds.’
‘She’s thinking of autumn
while my feet hang on to summer’ 
‘The lake raises an eyebrow when she is speckled with rain. She doesn’t do anything else but the rain takes a hint’
‘Can the bald lie? The nature of the skin says not:
it’s newborn pale, erection-tender stuff,
every thought visible – pure knowledge,
mind in action – shining through the skull’
‘Afternoons, he scams the high street punters,
black sacks of watches in his fists, or stalks the Common,
cooing, ripping crusts for ducks and swans.’
‘So darting from side to side I could catch the unwonted sight
Of those almost intolerably bright
Holes punched in the sky’
‘The eyes that lie, gouged and fogging
on the ground, are not so important.
Give them to a child for marbles.’
‘and have you ever strung a swing
up for your kids, over the limb
of a garden tree? Just like that.’
‘Confucius’ disciples murmured
Lunyu texts from bamboo scrolls, believed
within the four seas all men
‘Pinch the fish in running water
until it splits. Hold this sharp knife
like a river’
‘That night, it rained so hard
it was biblical. The Thames sunk the promenade,
spewing up so much low life.’
‘In the middle of a disembodied wharf, history
is handcart driven, all the better for its bowels,
previous sorrows and suspect tales.’ 
‘Hexane witchery, magnetic caul insistent from birth; a Dorset hag stone in a glass house. Trouble is, as trouble does, it’s lackadaisical: difficult in energy, relenting synchronicity; sipping pennyroyal in sync with subject ratio.’
‘Decluttering at sixteen was my therapy.
The urge to collect seemed a need back then
to hold on to what’s already lost.’
‘Those poor hostages, trapped in their sequential cells;
forced to walk or run, to climb, to sit then stand,
stand then sit. How miserable the captive animal is,
worried away – till they lose hair, presence, weight –
with the fret of knowing they are being watched.
‘Beside the swing, on the spongy terrain,
I take you to meet Ida in the Cannibale café,
in the parietal northwest corner of the brain.’
 Kayo Chingonyi, ‘Andrew’s Corner’, Some Bright Elegance (Salt)
 John Griffin ‘The Thought-Desert’, Agenda
 Hugh McMillan ‘Too Big a Part’, Best British Poetry 2012.
 David Hale’s ‘A Mother’s Gift’, The Last Walking Stick Factory (Happenstance Press)
 Flora de Falbe ‘Five things about the lake’, Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award
 Jo Shapcott, ‘Hairless’, Of Mutability (Faber)
 Hannah Lowe, ‘ Jack’s Milk’, Chick (Bloodaxe Book)
 Louis MacNeice ‘Star Gazer’, The Burning Perch (Faber)
 Kirsten Irving, ‘Recipe for a saint’, The Forward Book of Poetry 2014
 James Brookes, ‘A Hometown Execution’, Sins of the Leopard (Salt)
 Jennifer Wong, ‘Leap Year’, Goldfish (Chameleon Press).
 Josh Wallaert, ‘How to Gut the Fish’, A Guide to the Northwest Territory (Miel)
 Patience Agbabi, ‘Unfinished Business’ Poetry Review.
 Nia Davies, ‘The Gun’, Then Spree (Salt).
 Charlotte Newman, ‘Adrenaline Accord’, Penning Perfumes vol.1.
 Richie McCaffery, ‘The Collector’, Spinning Plates (Happenstance).
 Megan Fernandes, ‘THE BRAINHOOD ADVENTURE!’, Organ Speech (Corrupt Press).