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What a Write Off
In the world of literature, where winning is the ultimate
reward, it would appear strange to try and lose in a
literary competition. But perhaps when you look at some
of the writers scams proliferating from basic
creative desires, being rejected is probably the best
Failure is just what UK poet and columnist, David Taub,
aimed for, in response to the International Library of
Poetrys literary scams. Prompted by many of his
contemporaries suspiciously flattering
congratulatory letters, he entered a series of bad poems
in the global competition to see what would happen.
To his amazement, his series of verbally jarred, barely
unutterable, poetic duds such as Flubblebop
got him into the semi-finals, and an acceptance letter
crediting him on his fine standard of creative prowess.
Ironically, while other writers remain stumped by
inconsistent musings and esoteric utterances, Taub, is
yet to be rejected by the organisers.
Supposedly inducted into the world of artistic acclaim,
writers across the globe receive phony congratulatory
letters telling them how great they are and that
theyre a semi-finalist in a prestigious
competition. In response, some people buy their own
anthologies and useless silver ornaments embossed with
their artistry, for competitions with no literary credit.
Or they spend money on coveted prizes, which they later
discover, are not worth desiring at all.
One North American, contender, Theresa Coleman, received
the absolute works when she entered the International
Library of Poetry Competition. In an interview with Wind
Publications, Theresa explains how she was told in one of
their overly complimentary letters, that she had received
a nomination for Poet of the Year 2000, and was invited
to the Tenth Anniversary International Society of Poets
Convention and Symposium. Once there, she would read her
poem in their competition for poet of the year, $5,000,
and a book contract.
After paying $595 to appear at the convention, she found
prominent editors and publishers to be conspicuously
absent, and when organisers had only an hour to decide
winners from over 200 entries, she finally realized they
Selling a few anthologies and hosting phony dinners may
seem a miniscule rip off, but as outlined on the Wind
Publications website, The Greater Maryland Better
Business Bureau estimates that the ILP has 500,000
customers each year and if only half purchase a single
$50 anthology, the International Library would make $12.5
Perhaps from an uninformed perspective of what scammers
do, it is easy to blame writers for being gullible. But
when you look at the structure of scams it is little
wonder people are taken in.
As described on Science Fiction America there are also
the "contest mills, which make money with expensive
entry fees. While they advertise enormous
prizeslike $15,000 for the winner, they also come
with high entry fees at around $25 or $30. But if you
read the fine print, you'll discover that the contest
owner reserves the right to award prizes on a pro rata
While there are winners who do receive cash prizes, the
money is dependent on how many people enter the
competition with the judges or owners of these
establishments getting a fixed cut, so they make money
But while some scammers baffle artists with financial
jargon, The International Library of Poetry plays on
basic human psychology.
To make themselves appear legitimate, The International
Library of Poetry, Poetry Now, the International Society
of Poets or whoever they call themselves, is a registered
member of the Maryland Better Business Bureau and
advertises with prominent but unsuspecting writers
magazines. Even actress, Bo Derek, has graced one of
their annual conventions.
They play on vanity and flattery with superlatives,
lucrative prizes, huge anthologies and mass exposure.
They play on impulsiveness, with contenders being able to
enter several pieces at once, at the click of a button,
all for no cost.
They are also audacious. Despite warnings everywhere,
from blurbs on electronic literary publications, to
conspicuous articles listed in search engines on which
competitions to avoid, they are still advertising for
In the pursuit of professional writing careers, writers
are constantly thrust into exploitative situations, often
unaware of what is to happening to them.
I know because it happened to me. Introduced to an editor
for a national magazine through a friend, I wrote some
articles for her as a favour. The favour was two
articles, one at standard pay, another, a1000 word
article, which I could only receive $100 for due to
After doing all the work, my apparent job connections
disappeared and I did not receive a by-line for one
article. I blamed myself until I noticed the unnamed
piece had exactly the same sentence structure and ideas
as the original and only a few words had been changed.
I made a promise never to write for a friend of a friend
While we have all been victims of con artists rather than
artists, some have gained artistic notoriety by deriding
Extremely comical, is the Wergle Flomp Poetry
competition, inspired by Taubs alter ego and
illiterate genius of Wergle Flomp. As an
outlandish tribute to mocking scammers, contestants have
to enter the worst example of a poem ever sent to a dodgy
literary organisation. The best entries receive large
cash prizes and literary acknowledgement. For details, go
David Taubs full article, Help, Desperate for
a Rejection Slip, can be
viewed online at: http://www.ukpoet.cjb.net.
If you get a case of writers block, may be its
saving you from contributing to some of the worst cons
for writers. If you run out of ideas, head to the web and
check out the scams, there is a wealth of material to
keep you writing non stop.
For more tales from writers who have been burned by this
company (and others just like them) visit: http://windpub.com/literary.scams/ilp.htm