Monday, August 25, 2008

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.


At 4:10 PM, Blogger Reb said...

My score is: 3

I answered yes to 1, 7 (in the past), 8 (verbally, in the past)

If I took this quiz 5 years ago, I would have also said yes to 4 and 6 -- which would have made my score a 5.

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Oops, add another point for Question 10. I thought I was under, but looking back at my records, from 2001 through 2005 I entered over 65 contests.

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Jilly said...

I got a 2.

I think every poet should feel their poems are more worthy. (#7)

At 6:16 PM, Blogger brooklyn said...

Well look-at-me, all sweet an' juicy' and watermelony!


At 9:08 PM, Blogger Collin said...

My score is five, mainly because of the cock chugging whore question. That figures.

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Reen said...

What if I already learned a trade?

I am not killed yet, tho'. After the perils of law school, I am made o' sterner stuff. Either that, or I have been utterly soulless from the get-go -- an unbelievable advantage! Mwa ha ha, poets!

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Charles said...

I'm with Collin. Plus, I'm a career poet at heart. But you knew that.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Robert said...

I think Question 9 (“Do you revise your manuscript based on what you think will make it more contest winnable?”) is really the only relevant question. If your answer is yes, then yeah, you’ve sold your soul. But the other questions? Do you seethe with jealousy sometimes? That’s called being human. If you DON’T ever feel jealous, you may well have lost your soul. As for the other questions (Do you ever feel despondent etc.?), well, if you answer yes to some of them, it MAY mean you’re neurotic and self-destructive. However, that will put you in the same company as some of the most soulful people who ever lived (Kafka, Plath, Van Gogh).

At 10:57 AM, Blogger steven karl said...

Hi Reb! Looks like I'm a bruised peach hoping to morph into yer aunt!

I couldn't help but think about the money also spent hoping to attain residencies/fellowships or spent on "editor's pick" poems published in journals. *sigh*

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Bill Knott said...

. . . most of the comments responding to Brown on her site are commiserating with her, and saluting her bravery in exposing this nonsense——

but none are slamming his honor the Hoagland who bops in to these contests and does his ten minute stint as “judge” and then scoots off with another tick on his resume, another notch on his reputation, who doesn’t give a damn if it’s a scam, he doesn’t care if the process is fair and the press treats its poets properly, all he cares about is getting that boost to his ego . . .
Hoagland is a Po-Biz whore who will obviously sell his ass out as a “judge” at every opportunity legitimate or ill- . . .

if you’re going to condemn the presses, you must also damn the “judges” of these contests: they’re part of the scam . . . they don’t give a damn about what happens after they take their money and run . . . Hoagland is as much to blame here as Cider is.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Bill, that comment looks very familiar.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger ang'genusa said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger ang'genusa said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger ang'genusa said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Reb said...

HEY! Those are genuine Swarovski crystals. Don't be a hater just because I was smart enough to purchase it off of eBAY at a fraction of the retail price.

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Glenn Ingersoll said...

I got a 1 cuz not winning the Yale Younger Poets prize depressed me.

65 contests! Fuck! Seriously?

Having enough energy and stamina to do that proved you could run a small press, all right.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Emily A. Benton said...

LOL on #8.

for once, I'm glad I'm behind the bell curve in poetry publishing. i.e., I haven't been writing poetry long enough to start sending a manuscript to a contest. what a nightmare.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Pearl said...

0. I'll have to give mom her hat feather.


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