Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-03-2018, 11:51 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,116
Default "Poetry Book Contests Should be Abolished"

Poetry Book Contests Should be Abolished: Why Contests Are the Stupidest Way to Publish First Books
by Anis Shivani

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/anis-..._b_858819.html

I read this article a couple of years ago and just came across it again. Iím wondering what folks think about this topic. Have things changed at all since the article was written (2011)?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-04-2018, 09:14 AM
Michael Juster Michael Juster is offline
Distinguished Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Belmont MA
Posts: 4,721
Default

On the opposite side, a blinded contest is one of the few ways to do an end run around the inbred chumminess that plagues most publishers when they are not running a blinded contest.

Moreover, I am not sure that the generic quality of the winners is an indictment of the effect of the contests as much as an indictment of what gets praised in our vapid literary culture these days.

Hardly a ringing endorsement for the contests, I know...
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-04-2018, 11:39 AM
Maryann Corbett's Avatar
Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Posts: 9,524
Default

Here's another opinion, unfortunately more than ten years old now, from a voice I trust more than Shivani's: A.E. Stallings.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/har.../11/no-contest

One additional point: When is one supposed to learn the rule that only first books may be published via contests? I seem to have committed some faux pas as have recent winners of the New Criterion Book Prize John Foy and Moira Egan, both of whom had books out before their contest wins.

My first book was from WordTech, not a contest, and I'll talk about that in private if you want to talk.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-04-2018, 01:23 PM
Ned Balbo Ned Balbo is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 408
Default

A sad truth is that, from the standpoint of most publishers, readers don't want poetry. Most don't want to read it, let alone buy it. For those of us who've devoted years or lives to the art form, it's a painful realization.

Nor do most publishers have the resources to publicize our books. Those that do direct their resources to other non-poetry projects. My hat is off to those editors of small presses who sacrifice their own writing time to support the poets they publish.

Another factor: more & more readers encounter poetry through other media, often in performance or for free, on-line. With few exceptions, it's tough for even established poets to sell many copies of their books.

For these reasons, my view is that contests help protect & sustain the art of poetry in book form--at the very least, they contribute to sustaining a vital, varied range of voices that might not otherwise receive an editorial hearing. It's just not cost-effective for most publishers to bring out a book of poetry without the "push" that a contest provides.

Last edited by Ned Balbo; 02-04-2018 at 01:26 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-04-2018, 02:07 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 1,827
Default

Well, this is interesting. As one of those myriad punters who's made finals and semifinals but never won, I find this all quite topical. To a certain extent, I do feel that contests reflect technique; a few years ago, I never made it into the running, and it's less that my poems have improved than that my MSS have. They are tighter and better-organized. Constant rejection has refined my product, but I'm very glad to have been pointed to the 'sphere (by Katie Hoerth), after some years of rejection emails, with some actual feedback beyond thank you for entering, and the sense of a community. There is I think also a big step between finalist and winner. My 2c.

Lots of stuff in the links as well; I'm happy to have discovered Simic's New British Poetry, which I look forward to reading. In Oxford a year or two ago and nobody at Blackwell's recommended it as I searched for overviews. What we don't know.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-04-2018, 02:14 PM
Ted Charnley's Avatar
Ted Charnley Ted Charnley is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Location
Posts: 50
Post On Contests

And here's another opinion on this topic, much older than Alicia's:

Quote:
If the verses are for a literary competition, your grace should try to win second place; first is always won through favor or because of the high estate of the person, second is won because of pure justice . . . .
Cervantes, Second Part of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-05-2018, 07:55 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,116
Default

Thanks, everybody, for sharing your thoughts and opinions about this topic. So far Iíve mostly entered contests for individual poems, most with no entry fee and a few with entry fees, and have won some and had honorable mentions for a few.

Regarding manuscript contests, I have never entered one until last week. I have no idea how itís going to do. I donít have tons of money to spend, so I must decide whether itís worth entering these kinds of things.

Ted - Thanks for that Cervantes quote. It gave me a chuckle.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-06-2018, 01:34 AM
Ned Balbo Ned Balbo is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 408
Default

Marty, just a quick note to say I don't recommend indiscriminately entering these competitions.

Knowing the judge's work and/or past winners in previous years of the same competition might give a sense of what the judge might select or the screeners pass along; the named judge often reads only 10-20 manuscripts deemed finalists, with all others read by editorial staff or other people associated with the press or organization that sponsors the contest.

Therefore, being aware of the contest's stated or unstated aesthetic stance is pretty important. Ultimately, the goal is to gain a clear sense that the process is reasonable and reasonably transparent--one you can trust to be fair. And some quite fair, well-run contests reflect the tastes of a different corner of the poetic universe--a corner perfectly valid but not one that every poet inhabits.

Good luck!
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-06-2018, 02:09 AM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,116
Default

Thanks, Ned. That makes a lot of sense.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-06-2018, 06:44 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 1,827
Default

Yup, even I have noticed that more than one "open" contest has an agenda or an axe to grind. But they can hardly announce that in their contest listing. It seems a tad dishonest though, or underhand.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,858
Total Threads: 19,086
Total Posts: 247,393
There are 247 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online