The International Library of Poetry will be awarding 250 prizes this year worth a total of $58,000, offering students a chance to win money for their poetry.
"Any poet, whether published or not, can be a winner," said Christina Babylon, contest director. "When people learn about our free poetry contest, they suddenly realize their own poetic works of art can win cash prizes, as well as gain national recognition."
According to the organization's Web site, www.poetry.com, prizes include a first prize of $1,000, 24 second prizes of limited edition solid silver medals worth $50 and 79 third prizes of limited edition bronze medals worth $25. In addition, a grand prize of $10,000 in cash is awarded annually.
If the poem is selected, the International Library of Poetry may give the writer the option of buying the anthology in which their work is published. The Web site also allows writers to make their own poetry books as well as engrave their poems on sweatshirts, plaques, tote bags, wallet cards, calendars, mouse pads and greeting cards.
Freshman Jamie Leroux said the contest and the Web site are great ways for people to express themselves and find an outlet from life.
"As a poet who keeps all of her works for private satisfaction, it's great to read poetry by people who share their feelings with the world," she said.
But sophomore Rob Schwarz disagreed. He said that he'd submitted a poem to the site, but didn't find the experience valuable.
"It seems that they'll pretty much publish anything," Schwarz said. "If you read some of the incessant blabbering on their site, you'd know what I mean."
Creative writing professor Susan Tellman said students should be cautious about sending in their work. She thinks the organization does vulnerable amateurs a disservice by accepting almost everything they send in and then encouraging them to buy products that feature their poems.
"I would be very careful with the contest and take a look at the ... kinds of things they hold out in front of you," she said. "It can be quite a catch-all. ... It is a place where people can express themselves, but all the money interest is disturbing."
Tellman said that www.poets.org, the Web site of The Academy of American Poets, has less commercial interest and has an editorial board that is more selective in choosing poems.
Babylon said that skeptics should log on to www.poetry.com and check out the winners and their talent for themselves.
Hopefuls can also check out the The Poetry Society (www.poetrysoc.com), a British organization that publishes a poetry magazine. Its contests charge a fee, but are open to everyone over 18.
According to poetry.com, poems will be judged according to "creativity, originality, style, subject, use of language/word choice, cohesiveness, consistency, interpretability and general poetic merit."
Poets will receive a reply within seven weeks. Entry is free. Poems remain the property of the writers.
The International Library of Poetry was founded in 1982 and is the largest poetry organization in the world.