i've narrowed down the contests i'm entering this fall to four. count them: one, two, three, four.
i know i should be entering more. i was going to enter the whitman, but one of my ex-teachers is judging. damn you, marvin bell!
four! i'm not naming the contests, but i'm sure you can guess which ones they are.
i'm a bit ashamed of my reluctance to enter more contests. it's not a question of money. even though i'm broke, i would find a way to pay for the contest fees. i hate to say this: but i want to win one of the "big" contests. i know this is silly and dumb and unrealistic. i should know better. correction: i do know better. i have friends languishing in contest purgatory. friends with good/ great collections that never get picked for the big prize. and these friends aren't limiting themselves to a few contests. no, they're entering a lot of them. and yet, they're still struggling to find homes for their collections.
and here i am only entering four contests. i'm a special kind of fool.
why i'm so freaking hung up on winning one of the big book awards? well, i can think of two reasons.
1. i want a pretty book! all the big contests are attached to presses that produce beautiful books. i'm not entering a couple of contests this fall because i don't like the look of the books those contests churn out. let me say it again: i want a pretty book. i want to open my first box of books and weep with joy.
2. prestige. gawd, i can't believe i just typed that word. i feel like a total tool for admitting this, but i want my first collection to win something big and prestigious. why? i want my first book to make a splash. silly, no? how many first books have come out to the sound of crickets? plenty! and how many of those books were big contest winners? plenty. so winning a big contest doesn't ensure a big splash.
and what the hell do i mean by "big splash?" no one notices first books. no one! only other poets. and who cares what we think? there's no demand for our books. the books that do get some buzz will probably be forgotten in the next 10 years. i know all this. and i still want to win one of the biggies.
i'm going to go cry now.