|Photo by Rena J. Traxel|
As creative writers we hear about writing contests all the time. Some are local and probably hosted through your school, newspaper, or library. Others get more press, like the Writer’s Digest Annual Competition and Writers of the Future. But no matter what kind of competition you choose for your work, I believe writing contests are there to be used as a tool.
There are several places to find writing contests of all kinds, but the options for poetry are especially prominent. Magazines like Writer’s Digest and Poets & Writers frequently use their ad space to display some of the options out there. I also like to use the Winning Writers website database when searching for contests, and I subscribe to their monthly newsletter to keep up on news as well.
One of the benefits of using Winning Writers is that they try to prescreen the contests on their list for the signs of scams or vanity press. There’s always the chance you could fall prey to an unscrupulous contest, but there are a few things to look for to lessen those odds:
- First, what are your entry fees? I’ve never entered a contest that cost me more than $20 and the ones that cost me that much guaranteed me a one-year subscription to the journal regardless of my outcome in the contest. If you’re entering a contest for full poetry chapbooks or anthologies you can expect to pay higher fees, but those fees should always be appropriate when considering the prize. Don’t enter something that costs you $10 if the top prize is only $50.
- Second, what are your prizes? A vanity press will be publishing a large number of entrants and will probably not be selling that publication to the public. They might even require that you purchase an anthology to enter! As tempting as it is to enter a contest with 50 possible prizes, your respectable contests often offer a much shorter prize list. One of the largest I’ve seen is 15.
- And finally (though perhaps the most important), check your copyrights! I can’t stress this enough. A good contest will always allow you to retain copyrights, although they may require first-print rights if you place high enough for publication. If the contest rules don’t address copyrights, contact the contest sponsor for clarification or walk away. The last thing you want is to accidentally give up your work.
So after all of that, why enter contests? They give you the opportunity to find your work published in a respectable journal and can potentially short-list you with a poetry book publisher if you have a chapbook or anthology you may want published later. But perhaps the most important reason to enter poetry contests is that they keep you producing new work. Look at them as motivation, mini-deadlines if you will, that will keep you editing and writing instead of falling under the spell of distraction. After all, to be a writer we have to write, don’t we? Best of luck!
LessonCento or patchwork poem according to Poets.org is "a poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets. Though poets often borrow lines from other writers and mix them in with their own, a true cento is composed entirely of lines from other sources." What better way to get your poetry contest ready then to study other poets!
Using the photo of the patchwork castle as a prompt:--create a patchwork poem, or
--write a poem about a castle, or
--choose one line from a favourite poem and use it to write a poem, or
--use the castle picture to inspire your poem in someway.
Feel free to share your poem in the comments below, on your blog (leave a link in the comments), or on the poetry Facebook page.
As you may or may not now. I am hosting a poetry contest at the conclusion of this poetry challenge. This contest is only open to the participants of the A to Z Poetry Challenge. There will be two winners. One winner will be chosen by a panel of judges while the other winner will be chosen by the readers. You must enter ONE of the twenty-six poems you wrote during the challenge. I'm trusting that you will be honest and only enter a poem written during the challenge.
The winners will get to pick one prize from the following prizes:
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- On My Walk by Kari-Lynn Winters
- Baaaad Animals by Tiffany Stone
- Treasuries - Mother Goose
- No Bones About It by Bill Kirk
- Your Favorite Seuss: A baker's dozen by the one and only Dr. Seuss
- One year subscription to Writer's Digest
- One year subscription to Poets and Writers Or
- 25 dollar Amazon gift card
Here is a list of participants
1. Rita Fox
2. Irene Kristler
3. Jennifer Young
4. Pam Courtney
5. Renee LaTulippe
6. Lori Degman
8. Catherine Johnson
9. Penny Klostermann
10. Laura Sassi
11. Hannah Wilde
12. Laurie Mekelburg
If I missed you or you want to join the challenge please let me know in the comments below. You have until midnight tonight (mountain time) to sign up for the challenge. To learn more about the challenge click here.
If you liked this post please let others know. Tomorrow there will be a guest post by Sandi Hershenson, "Oh the Poet We Know." I hope you come back for that.