7 Tips for Poetry Contest Success

Every creative writer will tell you…there is no money in poetry…but there is money, publication and the possibility to get your finest work seen by your poetic community. If you’re going to enter and ultimately win or place in a poetry contest you need to follow some simple rules.


  1. Do your research, is it a legitimate press, a well-known literary journal or a vanity press? Don’t ever pay to be published.
  2. Follow the rules, don’t let your entry be disqualified because you didn’t read the rules. Consider that some contests may put rules in to weed out the unprofessional writers.
  3. Write what you know. While this is a common “rule” in creative writing it does hold up to poetry too. If you know that you a skilled poet in one form, enter contests within that form. If free verse isn’t your form, explore rhymed poetry, short form Asian poetry, limericks or classical poetry.
  4. Don’t miss the deadline. Plan your poetry submissions months in advance, waiting until the last minute often produces less that stellar work.
  5. Don’t overuse poetic techniques. Using Alliteration, assonance, enjambment, internal rhyme, repetition and hyperbole are all good tools in your poetry toolbox but they can also be overused. Avoid clichés. Invest in a dictionary and a thesaurus.
  6. Read your poetry out loud and share with your friends or family members who read and/or write poetry. Be open to criticism and submit your best work. Be persistent and patient.
  7. Avoid contests with large entry fees and small cash prizes. Look for no-fee poetry contests if you have limited funds.

The Most Important Thing

There are a lot of vanity publishers out there who will exploit beginning poets and writers. You will win a contest and then they will start selling you books, awards, conferences and more. ONLY deal with reputable contests and do your research before you send any money to any contest or publisher. There are plenty of FREE POETRY CONTESTS online you just have to do your research!

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