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"CONTESTS" PLEASE READ - Mac McGovern's Blog

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Blog Posted:2/15/2010 5:56:00 PM

There are many talented artists who sponsor and participate in submitting poems for contests. I personally love sponsoring and submitting. I participate because I want to be competitive. I sponsor because I want to experience the talent, diversity, and style of the poets who grace the pages of Poetry Soup.

Sponsoring a contest is not an easy task. We have an enemy that raises its ugly head no matter how hard we try to eliminate its presence. That enemy is subjectivity. It prevents us from being bias in our judgment of poems.

There are ways to reduce its influence. I take evaluating your poetry seriously. I believe "no matter what you write, someone will like it." Subjectivity determines just how much.

I reduce subjectivity in several ways.

I do not know who submitted the poem. If there is a name I disqualify the entry.

I do not normally read and comment on other poetry until the contest is closed.

I read each poem at least 5 times and in many cases up to 7 times.

I print the entries and sort poems into one of three categories.

Top 5

Top 10

Honorable Mention

I take each category and place them.

I then enter the place for posting.

I then print off the placement list, make adjustments as I need, and post the final results.

In many instances, I make as many as 3 placement changes in the final placement. I try to consider and compare each to one another rather than simply based on what I like. Having to judge poetry of many themes and forms increases the challenge and makes it more important to judge based on comparison.

Since we are all imperfect humans, judging someone else’s work introduces another enemy. That enemy rears its ugly head once the results are posted. That enemy disappointment.

We cannot help but feel disappointment when our work is not recognized. The reason the work was not selected is not that it is not great work, it is simply due to subjectivity and personal bias. Two elements we cannot eliminate, but we can try to limit the impact by remembering, contests are fun and the next one has already started.

I love this site, the poets, the work you each produce, and lastly, I love having fun in the contests. Win or lose, we are all winners simply by writing poetry…and yes, “no matter what you write, I like it.”


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Date: 2/22/2010 1:38:00 AM
I do love watching my friends participating in contests here,yet i never participate,im afraid that i'll lose the fun of poetry when i take my poems to another step,to competiiton,But good luck to all those who do participate,I give you all my support..and the way you judge the contests is a good,keep it up Charma
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Date: 2/18/2010 12:45:00 PM
Thanks for your dedication. As a new writter i'm oblivious to the quality of my poems. I just do it because it makes me feel happy and its like a form of release for me. So you saying, Someone will like them....i'm glad!
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Date: 2/18/2010 9:53:00 AM
Hi Mac. i am just so glad that dedicated poets like you are, will give of their time and knowlege to sponsor a contest, with only our thanks for their pay. I am eligible to sponsor a contest but I do not find a place that tells me how to do it. Joyce
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Date: 2/16/2010 3:32:00 PM
How do you get past the "no name" since the site automatically prints it?
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Date: 2/16/2010 3:14:00 AM
It is indeed a hard job to judge these contests. Keep up the good job Mac. Love, Carol
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Date: 2/15/2010 9:49:00 PM
no matter what it is your contest and you choose the winners !!!! If I win I am elated,,if I lose then I try harder the next time,,poetry is and alwasy will be subjective in so many ways,,,usually the ones I write that I love or like are ones less people like....and the ones i write that I like or love least are the ones more people like or love.... so therefore like i said before,,," It is your contest and you pick the winners the way you want,,but I too admire the way you have set it up in your blog up above,,,it definately seems fair and logical,,,and in my opinion there is no other way to do it,,,,,so ignore the few and carry onward,,,lets not let the few ruin or punish the many,,,,,,the way it usually happens,,if someone does not like the way you run your contest then they do not have to submit,,these are my opinions anyway,,,Blessings..Cecil
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Date: 2/15/2010 9:46:00 PM
What you say about subjectivity and personal bias is so true, Mac, and I have to admit I have felt disappointment a few times when I felt I really deserved at least a mention. However, for every time I felt that way,I try to think of the many others feeling the same. I only can hope that all the judges here will take your attitude and judge as fairly as possible, and that the contestants will look at all this as a fun thing and try to grow from it!! Boy, I don't know if I am up for judging one yet!! I can't even keep up with everything else here!! Luv, Andrea
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Date: 2/15/2010 8:27:00 PM
A great blog Mac .. explicit and concisely clear and an accurate account of how poetry contests are judged.. I always congratulate the sponsor first before the winners as they take on the responsibility of this giant task.. all poets on site here should already know our poetry is meaningful ..that is why we share it online... as long as we touch someone's heart its all worthwhile.. John Moses Freeman was inspired to write Cosmic Dust from my poem In God's Time.. this is an example of how one poet touches another.. u have touched us all Mac and we appreciate your input on Soup very much... we are all WINNERS! luv.. Linda-Marie "Sweetheart" of Poetry Soup..
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Date: 2/15/2010 7:36:00 PM
If I learn more about writing/composing then I am a winner, even though I may lose:)
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Date: 2/15/2010 7:20:00 PM
I admire you very much for posting this blog, one can lose with honour, glory and dignity, just as easy as win, and like you say, Mac, there is another contest starting at any minute, and the most important thing is we should be writing because we love it. Sponsoring a contest takes time, and takes away from ones own writing, and it is very difficult to pick the best from so many really good poems, and your method seems to me very fair and reasonable and no one should find fault with it ever, thank you again for sponsoring your wonderful contests... Constance
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Date: 2/15/2010 7:00:00 PM
I am in admiration for the way you present this blog, Mac! And the way you prepare and judge your contests..seems quite sensible and fair. As poets, we should not take ourselves so seriously, as to ever be upset over results. We must realize, this is a fun challenge, and each judge is going to have their own personal opinion. Not having a poem picked as a favorite this time, doesn't mean the next contest might not be successful. I'm simply grateful for the opportunity to be inspired and appreciate the time each one of you put in to sponsor these contests! Thank you all for the time you put into each contest and inspiring me to keep writing! Thank you!! :)
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