Poetry Competitions: Play by the Rules

Hoisted on my own petard!

Only last week, I was holding forth on the importance of proofreading work carefully, before making submissions or entering into competitions, and, this week, I receive a message from the organisers of one of the competitions I’d entered advising my entry was ineligible because it’s only open to UK residents…

Lesson of the Week: Check the poetry competition / submission rules carefully and abide by them!

If the organisers had simply bundled up my entry and chucked it in the bin, muttering, “Complete numpty”, I certainly wouldn’t have blamed them. Which is why what they actually did blew me away.

They refunded my entry fee with a note saying how sorry they were that they couldn’t accept the entry, as the poems were ‘contenders’ and they’d be in touch by email.

In the email, the organisers again apologised for failing to catch the error earlier, advised that one poem, ‘a stunning piece of work’, had made the long-list and the judge had privately confirmed not only would it have made the short-list but it was in the running for a top prize.

The judge had urged the organisers to make contact and encourage me to enter the poem to another competition, where it would be eligible. The organisers are also thinking of opening up their competition to international entries next year.

Literary competitions don’t usually provide feedback, unless a poem or story wins a prize, and I’m amazed and grateful to the judge, poet Carole Bromley, and the organisers of the York Literature Festival, for taking the time and trouble to respond to an ineligible entry!

It was a lovely gesture and the positive feedback really made my day.


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