Ah! Poetry competitions. Love ’em, hate ’em? It helps when you win something occasionally, admit it. Sadly, the stats are against us, but would we have it any other way? Who wants to be a winner if everyone else is too?
And on the subject of probability, I just read that the British state lottery, or Lotto, increased the number of balls from 49 to 59 three months ago. More balls! More chances to win!? Er, no. In fact it lengthened the odds of winning the jackpot from 14 million to one to 45 million to one. Which means anyone entering is 3,750 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to win the big one. What a swizz! Not that I’m bothered, because I don’t play. No sirree! I put my hard earned spare change into POETRY COMPETITIONS. Then again, of course I’m very grateful that others do play the Lotto, because they’re helping to fund the arts, heritage, sport and numerous other projects that our taxes no longer support.
The fact is that many small publishers run comps in order to stay alive, and while there are punters willing to enter them, why not? Personally, all I ask from competition organisers is they spend an equal amount of time publicising the winners as they do persuading people to enter. It seems only fair, yet it’s not always what happens. For my own part, I do enter comps, but only when I think I’ve got a competition-style poem that’s ready. The fees do add up, and after a while I feel a bit guilty about it. Then again I’ve had a bit of luck with comps in the past, for which I’m very grateful. Hence the love-hate-can’t decide attitude.
Anyway, I wanted to give a shout out to to three esteemed small poetry magazines and their current competitions, just in case you weren’t aware of them. It’s tough going when there are other, bigger or more established comps happening at the same time.
If you have a competition-winning poem or three in your knapsack, please consider sliding them their way.
The Interpreter’s House 2015 Poetry Competition
Closing: January 30th 2016
Judge: Jonathan Edwards
Prize money: £500 / £150 / £100
plus Seven Highly Commended
Entry Fee: £4 for single poems, £10 for three
Prole Laureate (who wouldn’t want a title like that?)
Closing: January 31st 2016
Judge: Kate O’Shea
Prize money: £200, 2 x runner up prizes of £50
Entry fee: £3 for first entry, £2 for any subsequent entries
Brittle Star poetry competition
Closing: 1st March 2016
Judges: George Szirtes & Jacqueline Gabbitas
Prize money: £250, £50, £25
Entry fee: 1st poem £4.50 then £3.50 for any subsequent entries
Someone’s got to win, and it could be you – or better still, me – tee hee. Good luck!