Thursday, 24 November 2022

Why don't I enter poetry competitions?

Because I don’t enjoy reading the crowd-pleasing poems that tend to win.

Because competitions implicitly and involuntarily encourage poets to write crowd-pleasers.

Because I write poems that are apparently simple, that accumulate layers, that would never stand out in a mass of fireworks.

Because I don’t write to win competitions. I write for my potential readers. I write for the conversations that individual poems strike up among themselves and with those readers in the context of a magazine or a collection.

What about you...?


  1. Personally, Matthew, I enjoy entering competitions on an occasional basis, especially charity fund-raisers and comps with themes that I might not have considered without the nudge. Once I'm in drafting mode, I usually find that the poem itself seems to fill my head, rather than what kind of poem it will be or whether it is likely to catch a judge's eye. I also like the pressure of a deadline, again on an occasional basis. And there is sometimes the offer of publication in a comp anthology for quite a few of the 'listed' poems. I would not enter competitions at the expense of submitting to magazines etc.; for me the thing is to be selective, but to be open to opportunities ...

  2. @Caroline Gill - these are all valid reasons. Outwith that kind of competition, however, I'm afraid too many of them benefit the organisations who run them and the judges who are paid pretty decent fees to lend their names to them. Quite what they do for the writers who enter them -- including the winners -- is a matter of debate. If one were to adopt competitions as a means of developing one's reputation, poverty might beckon even sooner than it usually might with poetry.