Top 10 Tips For Winning Poetry Competitions

Posted on: 27th May 2013

Poetry CompetitionsJoining poetry contests is perfect for beginners and seasoned poets looking to test their knowledge, add more to their writing experience, and putting their imagination into work. Developing your poetry can be very liberating and is great for honing your writing techniques and imagery. At times, it can be overwhelming at times but since there are no rules to follow, you have complete freedom to perfect this creative art and bag the winning prize at writing contests.

To build your poetry foundation, here are useful tips to consider. Apply them to your craft to improve your success rate when you enter a poetry competition:

  1. Always keep a pen and paper handy. Or your iPad – whichever works for you better. You never know when the inspiration for a new poem will come to you. Wherever you are and whatever the time of day, have this with you so you can save all your ideas into writing. Otherwise, you will regret losing a winner.
  1. Steer clear from worn-out topics. Even if you are itching to pen about your complicated love life or quite delirious to express your sentiments about natural disasters, abuse, racial discrimination. Many other poets would do the same and unless you can offer something far from the ordinary, bland, and unoriginal – judges will just pass it by.
  1. Learn to know the difference. Most competitions are open – so they will accept both free verse and rhyming work. But don’t confuse free verse with a slab of prose. They are utterly different. Poetry must have structure and rhythm. You can be more relaxed and imaginative when it comes to punctuating your poems but don’t forget its purpose – to indicate pauses and breathing spaces.
  1. Follow the necessary metre and rhyming scheme. This is especially true when you choose a specific form – such as a sonnet or a limerick. And don’t invert phrases unnaturally to get appropriate rhymes at the end of lines – a huge turnoff for judges.
  1. Choose your vocabulary. ‘Antique’ phrases such ‘thus’, ‘poesy’ and ‘doest’ are a no-no. Similes and metaphors must also be fresh and original.
  1. Always follow the rules.  Watch your line limit. If the organisers say 40 lines, you’ll be throwing away your money if your poem runs to 45.
  1. Don’t be obsessed with a particular poem. It might be the deciding factor why you are on a continuous losing streak. Feel free to use the same theme but try a different approach, perhaps.
  1. Polish to perfection. Do not settle for anything less. When competition is fierce, only the best will win.
  1. Do not rush things. Know the deadline and start early on so you have time to set aside your finished masterpiece and then come back to it after a couple of days to determine whether it still impresses you. This will also give you time to spot any flaws and fine-tune it to excellence. Even if you can dash off a poem and then send it by email the day before the deadline – that is not just the way to do it.
  1. Write with integrity. Always give it your best shot, irrespective of how large or how small the prize money. That will give you the pride you deserve as a credible poet. Because you will never know when you will be recognised for your true worth.

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