I entered four poetry competitions between July and December 2015, all held by the same Ontario poetry organization. I entered because the competition themes were imaginative, the entry fees were low, and the competitions had a regional feel to them, in spite of the fact that they were open to all Canadians. I thought that I might actually have a chance at winning one of them.
And, in fact, I did. I was pleased to be named as one of five Honourable Mention Award winners in the organization’s chapbook competition.
But I began to question if the judging process were truly blind–a rule in all four competitions–when I saw winners’ lists from two of the three others I’d entered.
There were 470 poems submitted in the October competition. The first prize was taken by the poetry organization’s contest co-ordinator. Among the 36 listed as Runners Up, there were five poets named twice and one poet named four times.
There were 320 poems submitted in the December competition. Among the 18 Honourable Mention Award winners, there were two poets named twice and two poets named four times, one of whom was the judge of the October competition.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that any of these winners is undeserving.
But to be deserving two or four times in the same blind competition–what are the odds?