Saturday, May 28, 2011

Poets, Prizes and Ponderings

How did I miss this announcement during National Poetry Month in April?  A new poetry contest has emerged, intending to be "the world's largest poetry competition".   The Montreal International Poetry Prize will not only award $50,000 for the best poem but publish the top 50 finalists in a "first-of-its-kind annual global poetry anthology."

The prize money was made possible anonymously, with the hope that this will become "an annual means of raising funds for promoting and supporting poetry around the world, including direct financial support for poets and the creation of a dynamic global poetry centre."

The ten international poets on the Editorial Board (which will change every year) will read the submissions and choose the 50 best poems for the anthology, which will be published in print and in e-formats by Montreal’s Véhicule Press in the autumn of 2011.   They intend to eventually then publish the next best 100 of the poems submitted, in a second, separate anthology.

Final deadline is July 8, in case anyone is interested in sending in a previously unpublished poem.  All entries will be selected and judged anonymously. The winner will be announced in December.

I like the 'direct-financial-support-for-poets' part of the equation.  :)   Imagine, being paid for writing poetry!  Granted, there are a lot of poets who are paid to teach poetry (as their day job), which could be both a stimulus and a deterrent vis-a-vis one's own creative writing, but imagine just receiving a windfall, out of the blue, for poetry you've already written.

It must be nice to receive $50,000 for your poetry.  One poet recently was awarded double that amount.  David Ferry, 87, was "thunderstruck" to discover he was chosen as the 2011 recipient of the $100,000  Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize this spring.  He accepted the honor of this organization's "recognition of an extraordinary lifetime accomplishment for a living U.S. poet"--but as to the prize money, he says: "I'm giving it all away."   It will go to "various social-service organizations he has supported in the past."  (Ferry, "who has volunteered for about 30 years at a Boston soup kitchen," says "It's like a great windfall," but believes that "a windfall should be used, if possible, not as if it were your income.") [1]

In an interview with Tess Taylor, Ferry describes how he first came to poetry, talks about translating poetry, about poetry that just "comes up", and the element of "happenstance":

"It’s all about happenstance, but then it also happens to connect up. The things that happen to you seem to happen by accident but, because you’re you, they seem to connect to other things."

The money prize is only one motivation for submitting one's poems to contests; the desire for recognition a significant part of it as well.  What fascinates me (endlessly) are poets themselves, what they write, why they write, how they write, poets who translate other poets; but even more than that  ... Poetry itself.  As to financial recompense: "Do what you love and the money will follow" does not always follow.  And recognition?  How many poets' work is only discovered, accidentally, decades after they've left the earth. And the life of the poem itself:  ones stand the test of time to become 'classics';  words in any poem that literally change your life.

 Anyway ...

Organizations and their prizes
poets and their writing and their poems
recognitions, obscurity, aspirations, generosity
the written word connecting . . .
all of a piece

a Saturday morning's
tiny musings

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