This is the third year qarrtsiluni has run a chapbook contest, with the winning manuscript published by Phoenicia. There are lots of contests out there, some with no reading fee at all (this one costs $11). If poets simply want to be published, there are also a number of chapbook printers now who masquerade as publishers. So why go to the trouble of entering a contest like this one? For one thing, the judging process is completely anonymous. (I know: I'm the contest coordinator!) We receive entries from known poets as well as people who've never submitted before, but all identifying information is stripped out, including acknowledgments, prior publications, biographical information -- even the "created by" tag in the file data is removed. So the judge has no way of knowing who is who, who has a degree, whose manuscript is filled with previously-published poems, and who doesn't but just happens to be a very good poet with something unique to say and an arresting way of saying it.
Second: Our contests typically don't receive hundreds of entries. Your work won't be lost in the shuffle, but read carefully.
And third: your entry fee goes toward the honorarium for the judge (for 2011, that's Luisa Igloria) and the cover artist, and to defray the expenses for review copies and postage. This is a break-even proposition at best, and you can feel positive, knowing that your fee helps support poetry itself. All ten shortlisted poets will receive publicity and publication of some of their works.
In both 2009 and 2010, the contest was won by accomplished but relatively unknown poets. The subsequent publication of their books and the publicity they received, as well as the credit, has helped both of them in their careers. Dave Bonta and I take seriously our role as publishers and promoters of the poets who are chosen for the shortlist and as winners, and we do all we can to get the work out into the world in a beautiful form -- whether that's as printed or online books, or in the audio version -- where it can be read and appreciated. We also try to make the process an enjoyable one for everyone involved.
To all my poet friends: you should seriously consider submitting to this contest. I won this contest last year, and Beth Adams & Dave Bonta have have been so awesome that they have ruined me for any other publisher. This year's judge is Luisa Igloria, who won the 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry.
So we hope you will consider entering the 2011 contest; send us your best work, and good luck to all! The deadline is June 15, and all details are here.
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