Poetry Competitions – What Works And What Does Not

Posted on: 3rd June 2014

There are many, many poetry competitions that provide a delightful way to hone your skills and win some very attractive prizes. Besides, you would also have your poem published in a coffee table edition, as well. What does a prize winning poem look like? What are the must-have ingredients? Here what judges have shared:

What The Poems Should Have To Be Judged Winner Entry

According to various judges, the winning poem would have the following “ingredients”:

-      Emotion stirring plot – a good poem will evoke emotions as you read it. Emotions need not be only romantic; the emotions stirred could also be sad, happy, remorseful, and even angry.

-      Short yet powerful – the poem should be short and powerful. Judges have no patience to read on and on – unless it is indeed a masterpiece plot. The best bet is to have maximum six stanzas, each stanza no longer than 6 lines.

-      Evokes pictures in the mind – poems are supposed to be like canvas for words. Every line should be able to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. The more vivid the pictures, the more attractive the poem.

-      Stay within the entry category – every contest has a category/ a theme. To be chosen a winner, the poem should stay within the theme/ category announced.

What The Poems Should NOT Have To Be Judged Winner Entry

-      Do not use obscenities – offensive language is a definite no-no. No judge would choose a poem that has offensive language as winner. Use words that depict feelings and anger without going to the extreme.

-      Do not exclude the audience – when you write a poem it should be able to capture the audience in such a way, that they would want to read on to learn more. If it fails to capture the reader’s interest the poem fails in its objective.

-      Do not preach – do not use your poem to preach to your reader. This is the easiest way to get your poem rejected. It should not offend anyone who reads it; hence, avoid poems on religion and politics and anything else that would hurt any community or group of people.

-      Do not stray away from the story – stay with the story line. It is often easy to move away from the story line/ main topic by going on various tangents highlighted in the poem. This disorients the reader and kills interest. Hence, you need to be careful not to distort the focus.

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