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Tips on Submitting Poetry to Poem Contests

By Gary R. Hess. Category: Poetry

Ever wanted to enter a poetry contest? It's difficult not to. There's the chance to receive a book deal, money, prizes, and other fantastic goodies. The problem is, not everyone has an equal shot at winning, even if your poem is far superior than the competition.

Before submitting a poem to a poetry contest, there are a few guidelines you should follow to make sure your writing has the best chance possible to win.

  • Read the previous winners' poetry. This can give you a great advantage when it comes to knowing what types of poems the judges enjoy. Do they like Shakespearean sonnets? Do they like poems about dogs? Do they enjoy long poems? Short poems?
  • Be sure to read all the qualifications properly. Some places want a specific writing style, point of view, setting, and length. It's important to know exactly what they want.
  • Use proper capitalization within the title and description areas. By doing so, this will allow the contest readers to easily identify with the work. Of course, proper capitalization can mean various things. Are you writing Dada? Are you writing like E. E. Cummings? Are you writing your titles as a statement? In most cases, you are not and should not try to imitate these famous authors. Therefore, you should use correct capitalization like you would when writing an essay.
  • Fill out all boxes correctly and accurately. By writing in the correct information, it will help your readers better understand the poem before reading it. If possible, write a complete description of the poem without giving away the entire meaning. Instead of writing one or two words, write a complete sentence to insure the best readability and most complete assessment of the writing. Including the history behind the writing is a great place to start.
  • Before submitting, make sure your poem has line breaks in the correct place, preferably when dividing up your meter structure. You can do this just as you were using a normal text editor; by pressing Enter. If you are submitting your poem by snail mail, be sure to read over the poem after you print it and make any necessary changes.
  • Make sure you have checked the poem over for any grammatical or spelling errors. Sometimes a mistake is overlooked after just glancing over it once or twice. Try reading the poem out loud and if possible, have someone else proof read it beforehand.

Please remember that you have agreed to the Terms of Agreement of each contest you enter. This may include republishing of the poem whenever and wherever they wish.