Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ok fuck it, time to call a spade a banana.


Poetry competitions. What are they looking for? The nextest greatest thing, or a shed load of money and a preservation of the status(un)quo?? Seems to me that traditionally poets were poor sad lonely fuckers up in the garret, with holes in their socks and only a candle for light and a wad of rejections in the fireplace for heat.

But here we are in super shiny 2010 with ethernet and silicone and glamour and glitz and shite The savviest and the glossiest up there flaming their supa novas of ability to jump through the hoops deal with the system pay the ferryman .Wanna do a workshop? That'll be €150 please.

And every competition now has an entry price tag of 5 , 6 , 7 , 8, 12, 15 pounds/euros per poem(s) to enter. Robbery and daylight are lovely words that spring to mind. Not only do you have to be good enough to win, you have to be able to afford to win.

Look at most winners of anything they will have BA's and MA's and qualifications to beat the band.This also generally puts them in the higher wage brackets of life. Am I bitter ? Am I twisted? Am I jealous? Am I a hypocrite? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But do I also have a point? I'd never win a comp even if I could afford to enter, but I'd hate to think of dormant unheard talent out there unable to pay to win. Which of course is disingenuos bollix, I WANT TO WIN. Honesty please for fuck's sake.It costs nothing and is worth it's weight in gold.

32 comments:

Niamh B said...

Yeah but historical (hysterical) famous poets and writers were often highly qualified - ie educated, priviledged feckeens who could afford to do nothing but write poems all day...
and as a guest on sunday scrapbook recently said "If you write poetry - it's your own fault" which I thought was depressing and uplifting both... keep it up for the love of it, or cos you can't help it, and forget about the comps.... your poetry bus is far cheaper and funner

Mojo said...

Of course you've got a point. Everything works this way chum. It's called The Golden Rule:
"He who has the gold, makes the rules." As it was in the beginning, is now and probably ever shall be. Amen.

But there is some hope for poor old sods like us who just might have a touch of talent, but no cake to promote it with. There's a site that's been recently re-launched called Indie Ink that pretty well exists exclusively to showcase emerging writers -- whether they got a wad of notes or not. It costs nothing to submit... of course you get nothing in return either except the satisfaction of having your ramblings up there for all the world to see -- to the tune of roughly 8000 unique visitors a day (and unless you're getting a shitload more traffic on your blog than I'm getting on mine, a lot more people are gonna see it there than in your comfy virtual domicile).

Or you can try storming the Bastille with the torchlit mob of disgruntled would-be's. I'm always up for a good riot. Just give me enough notice to allow me time to fetch my pitchfork. ;)

Heather said...

Some things never seem to change Peadar - it's the same for other types of artist and will probably always be so. Not fair I know but what can we do about it?

Titanium said...

I've never been the sort to "pay to play". I hear you loud and clear on this one.

There is a place for your writing, for the things that make you throw down your own hat and stomp on it in absolute fervor.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the Indie Ink.

Seriously. And we won't take your money. It's no good, here. But you are.

Oh, and it's about Composition. Not Competition. It's about being the best you can be and letting us tell the whole freakin' world about you. Because we can.

Brigid said...

Well, TFE you hit the nail on head, I couldnt agree more.
I am pretty penniless too, although we still have the ESB, thank God, so no candles yet...
I was given a lovely opportunity last year by Lyric Fm on the quiet quarter, it cost nothing to enter and I dont have an MA in anything and do believe we all should be given a fair chance.
Also feel a lot of the stuff out there can reek of middle class suburbia, where's the angst ??
As I said to someone else on a blogpost, I'm sure our old and great writers wrote their stuff on the back of a cigarette packet and such fabulous writing, Bring back the Brendan Behans of this world, great post !!

Peter Goulding said...

To be honest, yes, I get discouraged by the BAs and MAs and Professorships that seem to end up winning everything.
However, I can sort of see how someone who has studied poetry for 5 years in an environment of learning will have a much greater insight into the art than someone like me, who only just about finished second level education.
But we all get discouraged from time to time. Its the little successes though that make it worthwhile.

ArtSparker said...

Our pewter teapots are all o'erthrown, and we are cast down in the sands of time.

Titus said...

Try bouncing cheques. I don't reckon they'd connect the payment with the poem in most of them.

I am writing this anonymously.

Emerging Writer said...

And imagine, you have the advantage over me. You write MANLY poems. See previous post
http://emergingwriter.blogspot.com/2010/03/sexual-bias-in-poetry-competitions.html

Totalfeckineejit said...

Course I'd keep writing, Nivby, I couldn't stop.I don't mind being left out for lack of talent,but I don't like being excluded for having no money.

Argent said...

I suppose the only justification for having to pay a(modest) fee to enter a comp is if that money went as the prize or something.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Thanks Mojo for the Indie Ink link.I've had a quick look (interesting) but will go back.

Keep the pitch fork sharpened!

Karen said...

I entered one contest - didn't win; didn't even get a "thanks for entering your sucky poem in our contest," so I've lost my nerve. No contests for me. I'm having fun right here and thinking about printing a little chapbook to give to people who love me and who will think, "Wow! I didn't have any idea she was writing!" I figure if I overwhelm them with quantity they'll forget to be underwhelmed with quality.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Go for it Titanium! Indie Ink sounds like a cool venture.

Pure Fiction said...

Some of the entry fees are shocking, but I still find myself sending one or two things out. Maybe it's the thought that out of hundreds of poems yours is the one that just might catch the judge's imagination.
It's a bit like gambling - that buzz of sending out the poem, the anticipation of waiting for the results. And entering one or two competitions a year actually only costs 20 euro or so . . .

I often wonder do the writing ma's result in a certain homogeneity - but that could also be sour grapes on my part, cause I'll never be able to do one myself.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Nothing but moan, in my case Heather!.
I'm good at it though!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Brigid, you did great to get on Lyric's quiet quarter and go BB.Did you know me and Brendo have one thing in common?(apart from gargle) We never tie our shoelaces!

Totalfeckineejit said...

I'm not convinced Peter that five years studying poetry makes you a good poet.A certain type of poet maybe.For me poetry isn't totally about academia or intellect.It's about expressing yourself.

Totalfeckineejit said...

You are a poet Sparkey.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Titus, now your talking my language!Where's the cheque book? Oh yeah, I don't have one.Doh!

Totalfeckineejit said...

But EW I can't even get into the comp to be discriminated against, so my Dad/Mum is bigger than your Dad/Mum. :)

Rachel Fox said...

There are so many poetry competitions now that winning one has almost lost any kind of meaning (not that I wouldn't still feel chuffed to manage a win some time...hell, who doesn't like praise?). They are a guaranteed good income for many magazines and organisations though and most people who run them will admit this. It's not very poetic really! And with all the depressing they do (all those disappointed losers...all those hopes dashed, confidences shaken and, yes, money wasted!) they can feel like a big sports day nightmare over and over and over again. Poetry competitions as the three-legged race? Quite possibly.

For these and many reasons (how many of us who don't write in the current accepted-as-good-mode ever make it to the judges even?) they do make me fairly uncomfortable. I enter every now and then but often wish I hadn't in the long run. The only exception is when sometimes I've written a poem especially for a competition and even if there's no cigar at least I've acquired a new poem (and often one that I quite like and that others do too). That can take the pain out of it...

x

Bill said...

Most fields have a an industry built up around them which scratches a living out of the wannabes. Poetry is no exception.

There is a good case for just publishing poetry on the internet, as we do. Most poems are the right length to read on a screen whereas most fiction is too long. People read them, too. The main problem is how to maintain the critical faculties, how to hone one's own sense of what should go in the bin.

Seamus Heaney said in "North":

Compose in darkness.
Expect aurora borealis
in the long foray
but no cascade of light.

And he might have added

"and no dosh for that matter".

The Weaver of Grass said...

I bet you feel much better now that you have got that off your chest!! I always think the entry fee is so that they have enough money to pay out the prizes (and some left over) this is the way of the world these days.
Where has that lovely donk gone? I see enough of old che on Dominic's T shirts -BRING BACK THE DONKEY I say

Rachel Fox said...

Show her the donkey!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Good points there Foxo.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Thanks Bill Nice quote and nicely finished too!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Yes Argent, I thnk alarge profit is usually made.

Totalfeckineejit said...

I'm with you Karen, haven't entered more than 5 comps in my life.

Totalfeckineejit said...

I reckon you should keep ntering PF coz you could win!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Donkey is coming back Weaver specially for you (with a little help from a Fox)

the watercats said...

TOO FOOKIN RIGHT MR EEJ!...

I say we torch the m'f**&ers!
don't get me started on the education system and it's purely outrageous fuckedupdyness! (money versus skint people system)

unfortunately, aint it the fecking way of history and sods law that true brilliance ie: unpaidfor, is usually only discovered after the poor skint fucker dies! typical! then his goddam family reap the benefits, send there kids to private school and become all the things he hated! the sickening irony!... RRRAAAARRRR!!!