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The trouble with contests

The unsound ethics of poetry contests is a hot topic in the U.S. these days — one that Canadian poet and essayist Zach Wells has now tackled on the Bookninja.com site. Wells is not so much concerned about specific conflicts of interest of the this-judge-knew-that-contestant variety, though he points out that those can be a problem. His main focus, though, is on the general trend of litmag-sponsored contests. “Ever notice how the entry fee for all these prizes includes a year’s subscription to the magazine?” he writes. “They are basically lotteries designed to boost revenues artificially and inflate circulation figures, thereby imparting the rosy glow of garish rouge to the pale face of literary culture.” So he urges aspiring writers to ignore such sweepstakes and “pull the plug on the life support to a score of mostly unwanted and unread literary journals.”

Related links:
Click here for Zach Wells’ piece on poetry contests