The following blog reflects my personal (positive and negative) feelings with which anyone may agree or disagree. It will be interesting, from my perspective, to see how many Poetry Soup members feel as I do, and how many think some of my feelings are off-target.
Personally, I thoroughly enjoy the poetry contests, and I have submitted to almost all of them since becoming a member. That being said, I have had mixed feelings from time to time as I have observed the various, obvious "machinations" surrounding them. Hence a desire to share my thoughts and opinions, pro and con, with an invitation to readers to share their own thinking. So, here goes....
1. PS Poetry contests have prompted me to branch out in my poetic expression, trying forms, formats, and rhyme schemes I had never tried before.
2. PS Poetry contests have enhanced my general interest and participation in Poetry Soup.
3. PS Poetry contests have lead to my spending a great deal more time reading and writing verse.
4. PS Poetry contests have introduced me to previously-unheard-of-types of poetry.
5. PS Poetry contests have directed me, through the results pages, to a number of poets who appear to be consistently writing first-class poetry.
6. PS Poetry contests have presented me with writing prompts and challenges, which are powerful motivators.
7. PS Poetry contests have consistently appealed to my innate competitive spirit.
1. Sometimes, I find myself questioning whether contest sponsors are judging entries fairly when it is obvious they can easily learn "who wrote which" before making their placements.
2. I have observed that, occasionally, ideas (even titles) for poems are, shall I say, "borrowed" and/or "improved upon" by poets who submit poems later in a contest, i.e. having read the earlier submission in the New Poems list. I have some specific examples, but prefer not to show them for obvious reasons.
3. I have been perplexed [having submitted poems to some PS contests which have been previous contest winners in other venues, published in respected poetry journals, and have appeared in anthologies] seeing that they did not place, at all, in the PS contest! Incidentally, I never submit an old poem when a brand-new one is requested.
4. It is true, and I understand this perfectly, that rankings in poetry contests are the purview of the contest sponsor, who may or may not have any real expertise in evaluating poems submitted. So, poets need to keep in mind they are submitting their poems to be voted up or down and/or ranked by ONE person, the contest sponsor.
5. I find PS contest results directly affect my mood (and perhaps my blood pressure) especially when a poem I have written does not place (say out of 35 submissions), some of which are clearly not as well written as my submission!
6. Having been a teacher at several educational levels, from Elementary to University, I find it most disconcerting when poems containing obvious grammatical errors, misspellings, and obvious lack of sufficient proofreading find placement in PS poetry contests.