|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #18|
Would you believe it depends on which kind of poem(s) you've written?
Content Regents complain that their "deep" "poems" fare poorly in contests, the reason being that, with so many entries, judges don't have time for a "close read". That is true. Sort of. The fact is that Content Regents, by definition, rely almost entirely on meaning and/or meaninglessness. As such and as art, their verse is usually either crap or, worse, the dreaded cryptocrap. Both tend to get winnowed out upon arrival, as they should. Who has time for poetry that isn't poetry?
A modicum of technique should be enough for any poem, deep or not, to survive the initial selection. Now consider how most contests operate. The acceptance period is usually months, after which there is a shutoff and a few more days, weeks or months until the final announcement. Before the cutoff date the stack of nominees gets fatter as more arrive, thinner as more are eliminated. Judges will return regularly to the stack, perhaps enough times to begin appreciating your woek.
Let me give you an example with which you may be familiar (if you are a regular reader, at least):
Once a poem of this ilk is entered the fight for second place begins. It might not be a popular choice among the other entrants, though.
"That shit won first?!? Was it written by the judge's son or daughter? How could that thing possibly win?"
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #32|
Obviously, such poems need to be submitted as early as possible so that they will begin to work on the judges' minds. It's like farmers planting their slower growing crops early.
Now take the opposite extreme. Suppose you are submitting verse that may have less mystery but considerably more performance value. Something dazzling. Passionate. The English equivalient of Federico García Lorca's "Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías":
Let me interject that your rant had better be damned good. In general, these come off better on the stage than the page. Also, anyone who thinks "deep" poems get short shrift in contests should see how dismissive judges can be with over-the-top dramatic efforts. As we should have surmised by now, time is on the side of the more thoughtful entries; by definition, excitement has a short half-life. Performance types may need to benefit from a psychological phenomenon first described in Alexander Kotov's chess (yes, I said chess) masterpiece, "Think like a Grandmaster"):
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #25|
If you know the reading period, similar approaches could be taken with publishers.