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Sunday, October 04, 2009

and then there were four


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.


C. Dale said...

You can also query publishers the old-fashioned way as well, you know.

Once you are done crying, which we all must do at some point in Poetry, email me or message me at FB.

bjanepr said...

I'm with C. Dale. Contest is not the only way to get yourself a pretty book and some prestige. I also think contest is the way with possibly the worst odds.

Leslie said...

So I guess New Issues is not one of the four?!

You know what? It is your book—your work, your words, your blood sweat and ink. Send it where you want.

Good luck with the big 4!

Suzanne said...

You are crying too soon. There will time enough for crying later. (j/k)

I think it's important to go for it, so go for your big four, otherwise you'll always wonder what might have been. I do agree with C. Dale and Barbara Jane, there are beautiful books published without being contest winners -- don't get stuck in contest purgatory. And btw, maybe you won't get stuck -- maybe you'll win! It happens. Why not to you? I'm rooting for you. xo

Biombo said...

My tennis coach always told me: "Play to win", in other words, go for the big shots, take some risk, believe you can do it! I wish you all the luck Eduardo, buena suerte hermano!

Carmen Calatayud, MA, NCC said...

eduardo, i'm finally taking the opportunity to tell you how much i love your blog and love your true blue emotional honesty. just sign me a fellow poet swimming the depths of first book hope along with you.
en paz, carmen

Matthew Thorburn said...

Good luck, Eduardo.

jeannine said...

Yes, I for one can't wait for your first book! Then, after it comes out, you can start having angst about the second book...LOL.

Anne said...

I think it's important to decide why you want to be published. For me, I don't want my first book to go to a press where it won't get picked up by major academic libraries. That's the cutoff for me, and that does leave off some of the tiny little micropresses and super indie presses, many of which do fantastic books. But I want to be in academic libraries, dammit. Because that's how your stuff doesn't disappear from the face of the earth after you're dead.

Word verification: "phste" - which is the sound I make every time my book gets another rejection :)

Marco Fernando Navarro said...

you've got prestige already. you've been swingin' and hittin', not just trying to jab your way to a split decision. bring it home, eduardo!

Bernadette Geyer said...

I've seen many smaller presses -- some of whom read manuscripts during open reading periods -- who do a damn fine job of "making a splash." For me, it's the quality of the product and the dedication of the press to the titles it publishes.

Matthew said...

eduardo, you just wrote what I feel. I'm doing the same thing and feeling the fool as well.