First in an occasional series in which I review some of the competitions I enter.
Poetic Republic. Annual since 2009. Poetry only. [in 2014, they added a short story competition which is run along the same lines.]
My history with this competition
I entered one poem in 2013. It didn’t make it past the first round.
I love the concept – in essence, it’s a crowd-sourced competition. You must judge at least one set of twelve other poems, in each of the first two rounds, in order to have your own poem eligible for the final. (Apparently you can email them if you are unable to do this and they’ll waive that requirement.) Then everyone judges the final dozen, but this is optional.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite work in practice. I don’t just mean that only two people placed my poem in the top four out of twelve of that particular judging round (sob), but throughout the competition, organizers seemed pretty much absent. The news page wasn’t updated at all during the judging period, over a period of a few months, and although participants were able to submit tweets which were automatically published in the PR twitter feed, there were never any responses – except one which snidely informed us that ‘The short list comprises specific poems with specific merits. The time for discussing the shortlist is after the judging has closed.’ Really? We’re expected to pay and to judge but not to comment and discuss? Way to smack down your entrants. (For the record, there were all of five tweets commenting on the shortlist, only two of which had any hint of negativity, and both of those were disappointed that the shortlist was entirely free verse. No specific poems were mentioned in any way.)
I mean, normally you would have great whopping silence from the organisers during the judging period, so I wouldn’t ordinarily comment, but this competition is rooted in community and interaction.
Also, one of the big draws of the competition is that you get comments on your poem, but there’s no guarantee of this happening. I only got two, and based on the final email sent out after the competition ended, it sounds as though many people get none at all.
Entry fee vs prize money
Entry is a pretty steep £7 per poem. I can’t think of any other competition, apart from the mighty Bridport, which asks for so much. [Of course, 35 minutes after I posted this, I found one that charges £8 per poem....] The only prizes are the top ones, which is £1000 for the best single poem and £2000 for the best portfolio (two poems). Appalling value for money, unless you win. (I do realize poets are not supposed to be In It For Money but many of us balance the cost of entering with the potential rewards.)
Acknowledgement/announcement of winners
PR kept in touch pretty well – far more than most competitions, though that was primarily due to the nature of this one (which, as noted above, required the entrants to judge two sets of poems). They also sent a long ‘Thank you for taking part’ email.
Eleven poets are shortlisted (in addition to the winner). Forty-eight poems will be in the eBook, so that seems to be 36 on the longlist. There were 1346 poems entered, so about 3.5% of the entries will be published.
I pretty much felt as though I’d paid a whopping entry fee to do the competition’s work. PR emphasises a community-based approach to creative writing, which I am all in favor of, but community needs to go both ways.
Would I enter again?
I really doubt it. It was a fun experiment and I did enjoy reading and commenting on the other poems, but that’s nothing I can’t get in a workshop. And £7 will get me three poems in the Mslexia competition, which is a far better deal.