The yeas or nays of competition

I’ve been eyeing this one for some time now.  As a poetry competiton poetry, primarily, though my interest in it began with short fiction and with prose.  Here are the guidelines for entry (sorry — they call them rules):

  1.  You’re 18 or older
  2. The piece is your own work
    1. The piece hasn’t ever been published anywhere, not even on a website
  3. You have to be alive
  4. £6 per entry
  5. You have to write in English
  6. (Some formatting stuff — not really important here)
  7. £5000 first prize (!!), £1000 second prize, £500 third prize, 10 £50 runners-up

So here’s the thing.  Is it worth it?  Because in my case I’d have to write something entirely from scratch and to workshop it after the competition’s been judged.  I have nothing current that hasn’t appeared somewhere online, even in its roughest form — and that wouldn’t be considered “published” enough to violate the rules of this competition.

How prestigious is the Bridport Prize?  Brits?  Anybody?

Though £5000 is certainly not sneezable.  £500’s hardly sneezable. I don’t know.  Help.  

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7 thoughts on “The yeas or nays of competition

  1. I have always been suspicious of any competition that asks for payment of an entry… especially if they go on to say there is an anthology involved. They will recoup that money easily from entrants and so in effect, it is a lottery with the odds stacked against you. It also seems to be very Devon based, which seems a little bizarre. There are free competitions around but really and truly these that you have to pay to enter are usually business run acitivites or charitable events run by good intention. In which case, the worst thing about it is that you are giving a piece of yourself (in your writing) as well as hard cash. Gosh – I sound really cynical, sorry… but I am.

  2. I know that it’s commonplace to be suspicious of competitions that have entry fees, but to be honest in the pre-internet world they were not uncommon. Bridport’s been going since 1973. I have no doubt that it’s legit. Here’s what the British Council has to say. It’s got affiliations with big names, like John Fowles, Margaret Drabble, Andrew Motion and others. The pay-to-enter thing isn’t really my concern. I’m wondering something else — whether it’s worth my working on a poem from scratch and keeping it cloistered till after the competition.

  3. Actually, virtually all legitimate competitions require an entry fee; it’s that fee which provides the prizes, judges’ fees, etc., that make thek competition available in the first place. The competitions to watch out for are those which don’t required an entrance fee, such as Poetry.com.

  4. The Bridport is entirely legitimate and is certainly prestigious.

    The idea that entry fees are suspicious is unfounded. It comes from a culture that demands things without having to pay for them. As Hedgie says, it’s the free competitions with big prizes that are the suspicious ones. There are exceptions even to that – the Feile Filiochta competition, for example, which I presume operates using large Irish public funding.

    The fact that it’s based in Devon is irrelevant. Here’s a link to the Wigtown Poetry Competition, based in a small Scottish border village, but also legitimate. Not everything has to happen in London to be legitimate!

    Some people feel the odds of winning competitions are low and that the gamble isn’t worth taking. That’s a matter for each individual to make their own decision on, but says nothing about the integrity of the competitions themselves.

    I tend to enter a few competitions each year – five or so per year. I have had marginal success (3 commended entries i.e. not in the top 3, but just below), but haven’t won any big money yet. I haven’t given up though – not quite yet.

    There is a good list of poetry competitions at the Poetry Kit page. The site makes a real effort to ensure their listings are for legitimate enterprises. Of course, it’s always a good idea to do your hoemwork nonetheless.

  5. “The Bridport is entirely legitimate and is certainly prestigious.” – Rob
    And if it’s not prestigious enough for you.  Remember that “The top four poems are entered for the Forward Prize for Poetry, an award not open to the general public.”
    http://www.bridportprize.org.uk/details.htm

    Seamus Heaney’s ‘District and Circle’ (which won the 2006 T.S Eliot Prize) was short listed for a 2006 Forward Prize for best collection. The prize went to Robin Robertson for his collection, ‘

    Here is a link to the Forward poetry winners from 1992 to 2006.
    http://www.forwardartsfoundation.org/poetryprizewinners.htm

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