The fall calendar has been rapidly filling with poetry readings, classes, and publications.
Here in Rochester, the second Fringe Festival begins this weekend. A group of poets, led by Wanda Schubmehl, will be reading the work generated from her latest project–a poetry chain gang. Participating poets responded to one poem from another participating poet. The poem generated was then be passed along to another poet. None of us (yes, I am a participant!) saw any other poem than the one given to each of us until the project was completed. The reading will be this Saturday, September 21 at Writers & Books, 740 University Ave., Rochester, NY. We’ll start at 4:00 pm, so arrive early for the best seat! This is a free reading. As a result of Wanda’s efforts, FootHills Publishing will also produce a chapbook with all of our poems.
Please head over to Conte Online where my poem “14th. St., Buffalo, NY” appears. I am grateful to the editors for including my work and for asking me to record the poem being read in my voice, something I have not previously done. Let me know what you think. http://www.conteonline.net/issue0901/
The winner of the 2012 American Poetry Journal Book Prize is Richard Garcia for his manuscript, The Other Odyssey. The expected release will be Summer/Fall 2013 by Dream Horse Press.
The winner of the Spring, 2012 Black River Chapbook Competition is Shane McCrae for his manuscript Nonfiction.
Black Lawrence Press will also publish No Girls No Telephones by Rebecca Hazelton and Brittany Cavallaro as well as This is not a sky by Jessica Piazza.
From time to time, guest bloggers will be posting on topics related to poetry and publication. When guests do post, please remember that their words and opinions are their own and may or may not be shared by me. Guest bloggers are not given preferential treatment by Poetic Effect.
Today’s guest blogger is Donna M. Marbach, publisher at Palettes & Quills.
Poetry Contests, Our Community Projects
Poets & Writers magazine in its May/June 2012 issue published an article, that all serious poets should read, “The Risks and Rewards of Writing Contests” the article, by Michael Bourne, makes an interesting point. The contests are a kind of community project. Poets’ reading fees help support the whole concept of poetry by allowing publishers to continue publishing it. Readers, in turn, are exposed to poetry they otherwise would never see. “A community project” is certainly how Palettes & Quills (http://www.palettesnquills.com/) sees its own biennial chapbook contest.
Bourne’s extensive article examines what happens with the money from contest fees, suggests how one can determine ethical contests, and poses pros and cons to help readers decide whether entering contests is “worth it.” Though you, as poet, are really the only one who can answer the worth of contests, Bourne notes, “Unless your work is showing up in prestigious literary magazines or you have a connection to the editors at a press that publishes poetry, writing contests probably offer the best way to ensure that your work will at least get a fair reading.”
If contests truly are the best way to have your work read, how can you maximize your chance of winning one?
First and foremost, it is critical that you obtain and read the rules or guidelines for submitting and don’t assume that your poems constitute an exception to the rule. Contest administrators have rules for a reason and (whether you think they are reasonable or not), if you want to have any chance at winning, pay attention to them. If the rules are unclear or you believe you have a justifiable “exception” to something, write the administrator beforehand and get a clarification.
Secondly, know something about the final judge. It is useful to know the background, work and philosophy of whoever has been named the final judge. If you are not familiar with him/her, do some research. While it is not necessary or even desirable that your work be the same or similar to that of the judge, it is useful to know whether or not he/she might like or dislike your style of poetry.
Another tip you may wish to consider is to submit your manuscript as early as you can in the reading process. Avoid a last minute submission if at all possible. So many manuscripts come in right before a deadline that first readers can be overcome by the volume of manuscripts they have to read. You risk having your work being given a less than a positive rating simply because it is the 10th or 12th manuscript the reader has reviewed that day.
Also when entering a contest, in addition to considering the prize itself, take some time to consider who and how much competition you’re going to have. For example, if you enter Prairie Schooner Book Prize for $25, you could win $2,500 and publication (no specific number of books) but you would also be competing with 628 other poets. If you enter Palettes & Quills for $20, your prize is $200 plus 50 books, and you will only be competing against 140 or so other poets. Quite honestly, beginning and emerging poets have much better chances at winning some of the smaller and lesser known contests, thus making them a better bet for getting their work out and about.
Finally, submit a quality manuscript. Not only should your manuscript be clean, legible, and without spelling, typographical or grammatical errors, it should be a single work of some quality. Just as a poem should be more than a jumble of words, a good manuscript should be more than a bunch of poems. There are many ways to order a manuscript – too many to discuss in this essay. Nonetheless, no matter how you do it, you should arrange your poems according to some underlying theory that makes them a cohesive book.
In the end, contests are certainly one way to participate in the sharing of poetry. They provide poets with an opportunity to expose their work and to grow as poets. They allow publishers, especially small, independent publishers an opportunity to publish and disseminate good poetry to more people. And they allow readers, editors, and judges to assist in bringing good poetry into a spotlight that might not exist without them. Contests are indeed “a community project,” one in which we all can compete yet support each other at the same time.
With the new year comes a new publication to announce. My poem “Smoke and Cloud” appears in Ruminate Issue 22: Up in the Air http://www.ruminatemagazine.com/issue-22-up-in-the-air/. Ruminate’s tag line is “Chewing on life, faith and art.” This is an appropriate venue for my most recent work since my writing leans in a more spiritual direction. This work is also less narrative than most of my published poems.
Please check out the web site and let me know what you think. Purchasing a copy of Issue 22 will also be appreciated, by the magazine and me.
This is for all who wonder about becoming a published poet or have been asked to help someone become a published poet.
Whether you are looking for an opportunity for self promotion or would like to share your work with others for critiquing, check out www.shewrites.com. This online community of women writers from all genres recently reached 10,000 members. As a member you will be able to post your publication news on the site’s weekly digest. You will also be able to join any groups relevant to your interests, ranging from spiritual writing, publishing and editing, and many more. Your participation can be as little or as much as you wish. Please take a look at She Writes and let me know what you think by posting a comment on this blog.
My poem “Preservation” appears in the just-released Winter 2010 issue of Euphony http://euphonyjournal.com/current/. Enjoy!
My poem “A Cosmology” appears in Volume XXXIII, Spring 2008 issue of Roanoke Review which is published annually by Roanoke College. To purchase a copy of Roanoke Review, click on the link provided: http://www.roanoke.edu/roanokereview/subscriptions.html.
I am pleased to have my poem “That Year” published in the 2008 issue of Red Wheelbarrow Literary Magazine. Just Poets members Ron Bailey and Donna Marbach as well as Kim Addonizio also have poems appearing in this nationally distributed journal. Edited by Randolph Splitter, Red Wheelbarrow is published by De Anza College. For more information visit: http://faculty.deanza.edu/splitterrandolph/stories/storyReader$209
The 20th. anniversary edition of the Briar Cliff Review is now available. My poem “Stakes” appears in this 2008 volume. The Briar Cliff Review is published by Briar Cliff University. For more information visit http://www.briarcliff.edu/campus_info/bcu_review/home_bcu_review.asp.