Did you know that there are a ridiculous amount of poetry contests ‘out there’ in the great wide world of The Internet? Like, literary journal contests? It’s crazy. I had no idea that people were still writing that much poetry… and reading it, for that matter.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a good poem now and again, but I’ve read an awful lot of bad poetry in the past, and I think that’s put me off of ever learning how to write poetry properly (if there is such a thing) or even go out of my way to read it.
I think it’s just too easy to plop some words down on the page and call it a poem. But, try to write something good – something meaningful – and it’s harder than it seems! April was Poem-A-Day month, and I tried on Day One and gave up. Perhaps not a good reflection of the effort made on my part, but still…
…still I wonder, some of these contests have a goodly amount of prize money, and when you think about it, a poem theoretically takes far less time to write than a short story (for which there are also many contests). Is it worth it to try and churn out a bunch of semi-passable poems and shoot 10 or 15 around in a month, hoping to score a win somewhere, or is it better to sit down and thoughtfully plot out & write a short story (taking perhaps three or four… or fifty times as long to do) and submit maybe one per month, at best?
Where is the time best used? Honing one’s primary craft, or trying to take the easy way out?
I think what might stop people from taking the easy way out is: the entry fees on the contests. These are small literary journals, and I suspect that these contests help them finance their publishing costs during the year, but still, $1000 is pretty decent prize money for a struggling writer.
Of course, you could always work on both. HAH! Who has the time? Let’s be honest, here.
But, if poetry is your thing – or perhaps if you have a few original pieces kicking around in your notebook – it might be worth your while to check out a contest or two and see if they would be right for your style.
Here are a few I came across just today:
- Autumn House Press – Deadline June 30th, 2009
- Bitter Oleander Press – Deadline June 15th, 2009
- Boulevard Online – Deadline June 1st, 2009
- Finishing Line Press - Deadline June 30th, 2009
- Literal Latte: A Journal of Prose, Poetry & Art – Deadline July 15th, 2009
Interested? Want more? Head over to Poets & Writers for a whole slew of upcoming contests to enter!