THE HIGH COST OF POETRY: While I was eating lunch today, I was surfing through the grants and awards section of the Poets & Writers website, which was updated this week. While the chapbook, What Remains, is in the works at MetroMania Press (and still on track for an April 06 release), I've also got a full collection almost ready for submission. I had always planned to enter the collection in a few contests and fall seems like a the perfect time. If it were selected, the book probably wouldn't come out until 2007, so it wouldn't be in competition with the chapbook.

So, I printed up the grants and awards list (17 pages by the way) and started sifting through them and circling the ones that I wanted to enter. Some of the contests were for book length manuscripts and some were for single or group of poems. When I got to the end of list, I had circled 16 contests. Then I decided to add up the cost of entering all 16. Grand total: $314.

That's a chunk of change, and definitely not in my budget. You could self-publish a book for that amount. I don't know how other poets manage it...maybe they don't. One poet friend of mine entered about 70 contests before her book was selected. That's roughly $1,400 if each contest was $20 bucks a pop...some have gone up to $25. Even chapbook competitions have gone up to $20. My challenge now is to cut that P&W list in half; decide if I really want to enter individual poems into contests or stick to submitting the full manuscript.

Another interesting article in the new P&W is on the self-imposed retirement of Bin Ramke from the University of Georgia Press as the Contemporary Poetry Series editor. After he announced his departure, UGA Press killed the series. Ramke decided to cut his losses after getting shit loads of bad press in the wake of Foetry's discovery that the Contemporary series had published Peter Sacks collection -- which was selected by Sacks' wife, Jorie Graham. Ramke defends himself, but the whiff of cronyism and favoritism is ripe. Funny how all of Ramke's books were published by University of Iowa Press...former home to Madame Graham. Sure, it might all be above board, but to the rest of us, it looks very bad. I entered the Contemporary contest numerous times back in the 90s, when I was naive and thought I actually had a chance to win. Then I got jaded by the "po'biz."

I'll be adding this to the calendar at www.collinkelley.com this weekend, but thought I would mention it here first. Good friend and fellow fabulous poet Cherryl Floyd-Miller is going to start a series of talks and readings with local poets in November at local galleries. I'm first on the list. The event will be at the Predicate Gallery on Church Street in Decatur on Nov. 17. Cherryl will be asking me questions (I hope she asks me my favorite curse word like James Lipton does on Inside the Actor's Studio!) and then I'll do a short reading. Sounds like fun. Please join us!

Comments

Nick said…
RE: "...the whiff of cronyism and favoritism is ripe..."

Reasons why I've never entered a Chapbook Contest.
Collin said…
The chapbook contests were the first thing I crossed off the list. I'm narrowing down manuscript competitions and will pick maybe 10. That's about all I can afford.
Stranger Ken said…
You and me both, it seems, although everyone says the same thing. Costs of competitions go up, progress goes down and it takes ever longer to squeeze out responses from editors as more and more emails just don't get answered. From where I sit, though, your country is a good deal livelier and fuller of opportunities than mine!

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