Take the "Are Poetry Contests Killing Your Soul?" Quiz
1. Add up all the money you spent on poetry contests. Does that amount make you dizzy, cringe, squirm, feel flush or consider kicking a small domesticated animal?
2. Have you spent more money on poetry contests than on contemporary poetry books and periodicals?
3. Is the above amount more than 50% spent on these contests? (i.e., if you spent $100 on poetry books and periodicals and $300 on poetry contests, that means you spent 200% more on contests.)
4. When learning that you did not win a contest you entered, do you feel depressed, despondent or angry?
5. Do you believe that you must win a contest for you to be considered a "serious" poet?
6. Do you believe that a small group of individuals control your ability to get your poems to a wider audience? That if these people don't embrace your work, you're screwed?
7. When a friend or acquaintance wins a poetry contest, do you seethe with bitterness and jealousy? Are you consumed with the fact that their poems are kinda sucky and yours are so very much better?
8. Have you ever said (or anonymously posted) "Well clearly __________ chugged a lot of cock" upon hearing of his/her winning a contest?
9. Do you revise your manuscript based on what you think will make it more contest winnable? (i.e. Try to ride popular trends, making it more like last year's winning book, remove offensive lines or poems so as not to offend a judge or reader, etc.)
10. Have you entered more than 50 poetry contests in your lifetime?
* * *
Give yourself 1 point for every YES answer.
0-2 point: Your soul is a juicy, seedless watermelon bursting with delicious. Contests ain't got nothing on you. Your mama raised you right!
3-5 points: Your soul is a bruised peach and kind of mealy. Feeling that twinge of bitterness and hopelessness? Are you a creative artist or my aunt who attends the big Sweepstakes Convention every year? Hey, don't laugh, she's won a cruise and TWO Cadillacs. It can happen to you too!
6-8 points: Your soul is a hollow gourd. You have allowed contests to suck out your succulent artistic goodness. It's not too late, gourd art is all the rage. Reclaim your integrity and take control of your poems. They need you.
9-10 points: Your soul is a dark, shriveled speck that even raisins mock. It's too late for you. Your worst fears have been realized. Nobody will ever love you or your poems. Learn a trade and become a respectable member of society already.