AVBOB Poetry Project | 5 Questions to Ask About Your Own Work When Entering Poetry Contests

5 Questions to Ask About Your Own Work When Entering Poetry Contests

The difference between a good poet and a great poet is that a great poet reels the reader in with something they have never experienced before. Great poets do not just come up with new and exciting concepts – they also execute ideas in such a way that any reader can participate in their work through imagination.

For those who enjoy entering poetry contests, understanding how best to engage with the audience is a must. Writing from a raw, vulnerable place is not always enough to bridge the gap between you and your readers, so what is? We have seen thousands of poems from both professional and fledgling authors, so we have a good idea of what it takes for a composition to stand out. If you would like your work to have a ripple effect in and far beyond those poetry contests you enter, then have a look at the five questions you must first answer about your poem.

1. What is Intriguing About My Idea?

The last thing you want to do is make the audience feel as if they have seen such a poem many times before. Think of how your work is different from entries of similar poetry contests – and then improve or expand upon your concept.

2. What Emotion Do I Want to Evoke?

Is it possible to create a range of powerful emotions in the reader without resorting to clichés and overdone themes? The answer is a resounding yes – and this is what wins poetry competitions. Figure out a complex set of feelings you wish to provoke in your audience without blatantly trying to manipulate their response.

3. Which Senses Am I Sparking?

The kind of descriptive imagery you employ in your poem will stimulate the audience’s imagination. Describing how something looks, smells, feels, sounds, and even tastes is one of the quickest routes to engaging with a reader’s senses. Abstract concepts, such as happiness, are far more poignant when they relate to tangible objects like rain, warm coffee, or nature.

4. How Will I Convey My Opinion?

In your work, you get to decide if you want to make your opinion on a topic obvious or not. Some writers leave that up to the audience, while others focus on their own feelings. If you do wish to state your thoughts on the matter, do so with the clever use of metaphors and similes. For example, instead of stating that death is “bad”, you could compare death to darkness or decay.

5. What is the Goal of My Poem?

Poetry contests often present poets with a theme or layout, but it is the writer who decides what the intention of their piece is. Whether you are trying to bring awareness to a topic, express how you feel, or challenge the audience to rethink their beliefs, it is vital to use this question to guide your creative process.

Even though you may not take first place for all the contests you enter, you will still gain an immeasurable amount of experience and confidence. To tap into your potential as a fearless wordsmith, enter as many writing competitions as you can, and give it your all each time.

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