I’ve decided to enter some poetry competitions.
I’ve always been nervous about entering competitions. Up to a point, that’s just my own insecurity: it seems pointless to submit a poem when the likelihood of receiving any recognition is so tiny, and I’ve never believed myself capable of winning any of them. But it’s also a financial consideration: the entry fees build up if you enter more than one or two, and it seems even less worthwhile.
I’ve talked about how self-publishing and slam poetry on YouTube has changed the world of poetry, opening it up to a far more diverse collection of poets who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the prohibitive fees, and I still wholeheartedly believe that. But it’s terribly hard to get anyone to take you seriously without some proper cred to your name, and maybe that’s what it is that’s driving me back to this more traditional route. Well, that and impatience at the rate at which my collections are selling. ;)
Unfortunately, I’m still skint. I’m scouring the internet for free competitions that I can enter — and indeed, just submitted three poems to one, completely free of charge. Even my insecurities can’t talk me out of that one, because I’ve got absolutely nothing to lose, right?
I have a document on my computer called Unpublished Poetry. Every new poem I write goes into that document, so that when I come to put together a collection, I know exactly what hasn’t been posted on the internet, entered into a competition, or included in a previous collection. Sometimes, I include ones that have been posted on the internet, but often competitions don’t allow that kind of thing, so the document has strict rules.
Now, that document is finding it’s got some additions to the titles of poems. If I enter it into a competition, the name of the competition and the closing date goes in the document, so that I can keep track — and so that I don’t accidentally enter it somewhere else.
You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. In part, it’s because these endeavours may halt the progress of my third collection, as I want to wait and see how this goes before I make the decision to publish it. It’s not finished anyway, but if any of these poems get anywhere, I probably won’t be able to include them. It’s also because I want you to hold me to account.
You see, while I was tidying my room the other day I came across the notebook in which I wrote my New Year’s Resolutions. Many of them were goals and quite a number were school-specific, so I’m off the hook even if I didn’t complete them. But one said Enter at least five poetry competitions, or publish a poetry collection.
I published two, so I ticked that one off feeling pretty pleased with myself. Now, I’m thinking I might try and meet the first half of that challenge. It’s not going to be easy — free competitions are few and far between — but it’s certainly possible, I think. Each time I enter one, I’ll tell you (probably just a note at the end of a post), and maybe I’ll be able to get to that total of five by the end of the year.
And if I win any of them, well, people might start taking me seriously as a poet rather than simply a ‘teenager who writes poetry’. Who knows?
If you know any competitions you think I ought to enter, let me know in the comments!