If you are a poet, participating in online poetry contests can be an excellent opportunity to showcase your work and gain recognition. Like other writing contests, winning an online poetry contest can be challenging, with many talented poets competing.
To help you increase your chances of success, here are 12 tips to win online poetry contests.
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How to Win Online Poetry Contests: 12 Best Tips
Let’s dive in and explore some strategies that can help you win online poetry contests.
#1. Understand the contest rules:
Understanding the contest’s rules is the first and foremost step toward success. Every poetry contest has its own set of rules and guidelines — these may pertain to the style of poetry, the length of the poem, the theme or subject, submission deadlines, and even specifications about the poet’s age or location.
You must read these rules carefully to ensure your entry adheres to them. Neglecting to do so can lead to your submission being disqualified, irrespective of the quality of your poetry.
#2. Choose the right contest:
Selecting the appropriate contest for your poem is crucial. Each contest has its unique flavor, characterized by the style of poetry it promotes, the themes it embraces, or the audience it caters to. Some contests may focus on traditional forms like sonnets or haikus, while others might encourage free verse or experimental poetry.
Similarly, the theme could range from love and relationships to social issues or nature. Review the past winners, if available, to get a sense of what the judges might be looking for. Align your poetic strengths and interests with the contest’s preferences to increase your chances of success.
#3. Read & analyze past winning entries:
Reading and analyzing past winning entries is an effective strategy to understand what the contest judges value. Dedicate time to appreciate the nuances of these poems.
Identify the style, tone, themes, and language complexity commonly found in these winning pieces. Notice whether the judges prefer traditional forms of poetry or are more inclined towards contemporary or experimental styles. Understanding these elements can help you tailor your submission to match the contest’s preferences while keeping your unique voice.
Additionally, observe how these poems evoke emotions, convey complex ideas, or use innovative metaphors. These insights can inspire your writing and increase your chances of winning.
#4. Follow submission guidelines:
Adhering strictly to the submission guidelines is just as important as crafting a captivating poem. These guidelines typically include the format your poem should be submitted, such as a particular font and size or a specific file type.
They may also specify how to label your file, whether to include a cover page, and whether your details should be included or excluded in the submission. Failure to comply with these guidelines could lead to disqualification, regardless of your poem’s quality.
Therefore, before submitting, review the guidelines and cross-check your submission to ensure compliance. While seemingly mundane, this step is key in your quest to win online poetry contests.
Whether it’s poetry or any other craft, one thing is certain—practice makes perfect. The beauty of a poem lies in its ability to convey profound messages with elegance and brevity. This skill, however, does not come overnight.
It requires consistent effort, experimentation, and learning from feedback. Write regularly, exploring different styles, themes, and poetic devices. Share your work with others and be open to critique. Participate in local poetry readings or workshops to hone your craft.
The more you practice, the more you can imbue your poetry with your unique voice and perspective. Remember, each poem you write is a step towards perfecting your craft and increasing your chances of winning that coveted poetry contest.
#6. Edit and proofread your poem:
Careless mistakes can ruin a well-written poem. Hence, before submitting, edit and proofread your work thoroughly. Pay attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. A typo or misplaced comma can negatively impact the judges’ perception of your submission.
Furthermore, while editing, ensure that the poem flows smoothly, with a logical progression of ideas. If unsure about certain lines or phrases, seek feedback from other poets or beta readers. Use their suggestions to refine your poem and make it the best version possible.
#7. Be original:
Originality is the cornerstone of compelling poetry. The uniqueness of your voice, perspective, and interpretation brings freshness to the platform, which can capture the judges’ attention. Avoid cliches and overused themes; venture into unexplored territories, use innovative metaphors and experiment with unusual styles or structures. Delve into your own experiences, thoughts, and emotions.
Remember, authenticity resonates with readers and often sets your work apart in a sea of submissions. Being original does not mean you have to be bizarre or overly complex; it simply means being true to your voice and presenting your unique view of the world through your poetry. Winning a poetry contest requires skill and the courage to be distinctively creative.
#8. Craft an attention-grabbing title:
A striking title can pique the judges’ interest even before they read the first line of your poem. It serves as the initial point of contact between your work and the reader, setting the tone and possibly hinting at the poem’s theme or essence.
Think of your title as a doorway inviting the reader into the world of your poem. It should be enticing and intriguing and represent your poem’s content. Avoid generic or vague titles; instead, opt for something unique that effectively captures the essence of your poem.
#9. Observe the contest deadline:
Observing the contest deadline is crucial. Poetry contests often have strict cut-off dates and times, and any submissions received after the deadline are typically disqualified, regardless of their quality.
To avoid disappointment, make certain to note the deadline as soon as you decide to enter the contest and plan your schedule accordingly. Start your poem well ahead to allow multiple drafts, edits, and revisions without feeling rushed.
Also, consider the time it might take to format your poem according to the submission guidelines and factor in potential technical issues or delays in uploading your submission.
Aim to have your poem ready for submission at least a few days before the deadline to ensure it is received on time. Being mindful of the deadline is just as important as crafting a compelling poem, and adherence to this ensures your work is given the consideration it deserves.
#10. Submit properly:
It’s time to submit your work properly. This doesn’t simply mean hitting the ‘submit’ button; rather, it involves a careful process to ensure your entry is received and considered. First, double-check your poem and make sure it adheres to the contest’s guidelines and fits the theme if one is specified.
Then, verify that your poem is properly formatted according to the contest’s requirements, whether a specific font size, line spacing, or file type. Include any necessary information, such as a title, your name, or any other details the contest requires.
Plus, ensure you receive confirmation that your submission was received. Some contests will send you an email confirmation, while others might display a confirmation page on their website.
#11. Share and promote:
After submitting your poem, don’t just wait for the results. Get active on social media, share your poem with friends and family, and encourage others to read and vote for your submission if applicable.
The more exposure your work receives, the higher the chances of it catching the attention of the judges and potential readers. Sharing your work can also help you connect with other poets and grow your network.
#12. Be Resilient:
In the journey towards writing success, rejection is inevitable. However, remember that rejection doesn’t reflect your capability as a poet. Instead of viewing rejection as a failure, consider it an opportunity to learn and grow.
When your work is not accepted, seek feedback and understand the areas where you can improve. Analyze the winning entries and gain insights about what made them stand out. Apply these learnings to your future endeavors, and keep writing.
Remember, resilience is key in the world of writing contests. Even the most celebrated poets faced rejection in their early careers. Your passion for the craft and determination to improve will eventually lead you to success.
You may check out the below video contest on how to win online poetry contests.
Participating in poetry contests can be a rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. It’s an opportunity to challenge yourself, explore your creativity, connect with other poets, and receive recognition for your work. Use these tips to enhance your chances of success in any future poetry contest you enter.
Remember to stay true to yourself and your unique voice, continuously improve your skills, and never give up on your passion for poetry.
FAQs on Winning Online Poetry Contest
Should I buy votes for an online poetry contest?
You may consider buying contest votes from reputable websites if the contest rules allow it. Do your research and understand the potential consequences before taking this route.
How important is originality in winning a poetry contest?
Originality is crucial in standing out and capturing the judges’ attention. It sets your work apart from others and makes it more memorable to readers. It’s also essential to balance originality and follow the contest’s theme or guidelines if applicable.
What should I do if my poem is not selected as a winner?
Rejection is a common part of the writing process and doesn’t reflect your capability as a poet. Seek feedback, analyze winning entries, and continue honing your skills. Keep submitting your work to other contests and opportunities, and never give up on your passion for writing. So, be resilient and keep exploring new avenues for showcasing your creativity.
Can social media help me win a poetry contest?
Social media can be a powerful tool in promoting your work and gaining exposure. By sharing your poem with friends, family, and followers, you increase the chances of it being seen by potential readers and judges.
You may also participate in online writing communities or forums to connect with other poets and potentially gain support for your submission.
Can I earn money from an online poetry contest?
It depends on the specific contest and its rules. Some online poetry contests offer cash prizes for winners, while others may offer publication opportunities or other forms of recognition. For example
The Poetry Foundation’s annual contest awards a sizable cash prize to the winner, allowing poets to potentially earn a substantial amount from their craft. Other competitions, like the National Poetry Series, don’t offer cash rewards but instead provide the invaluable opportunity for winners to have their work published by notable publishing houses.
Hence, the potential to earn money or achieve professional recognition through online poetry contests can greatly vary, but both are significant achievements that can enhance a poet’s career. Be sure to carefully read and understand the contest’s guidelines before entering, including any potential financial benefits.