Yet another dotcom, this site runs all sorts of contests and the like to get high school wannabe-poets to submit their "art" for various things. They have a daily haiku contest, in which they judge it first and foremost on syllable structure, to which I submitted the words:

    Counting syllables
    is not what a Haiku is
    unless you are dumb
This didn't win. What DID surprise me, however, was that, on a lark, I submitted Happy Kerpuffle Fluff. Not only did it make it to the semifinals as I discovered today, but it was such an "artistic vision" that they want to publish it in their coffee table book, "The Falling Rain." They asked me to write 100 words about the poem and what it means to me, for them to publish in a blurb to the side. This is what I wrote:

I can't help but laugh at this whole thing. Either they're really hard up for entries, or they thought I'm 5 years old. Either way, I think they're in for a shock - and they've already guaranteed that my poem will be published in the book, and will go on to the finals. ;)

Wouldn't it be really funny if I won one of the prizes? The lowest prize is $1000. The top prize is $10,000. All for some infantile ramblings that I was using to test a new sketchpad at 2 in the morning before I was to leave for Hong Kong.

In any case, here's the letter I got from them (my name censored to uphold my long-standing tradition of making people work to find out my real name):

    June 27, 2000

    VIP xxxx-xxx

    (name)
    (address)
    Las Cruces, NM (zipcode)

    Dear (name),

    After carefully reading and discussing your poem, our Selection Committee has certified your poem as a semi-finalist in our North American Open Poetry Contest. Your poem will automatically be entered into the final competition held in July 2000. As a semi-finalist, you now have an excellent chance of winning one of 104 cash or gift prizes -- including the $1,000.00 Grand Prize. You may even win the $10,000.00 Annual Grand Prize! We wish you the best of luck as you compete for these prizes in the coming weeks (a complete list of prizes is enclosed).

    And that's not all...

    {Note: this is where their true intents are foreshadowed, in that the more people they bilk into thinking they're a "winner," the more money they make}

    (name)... Imagine Your Poem
    Featured in a Beautiful Coffee-table Edition!

    In celebration of the unique talent that you have displayed, we also wish to publish your poem in what promises to be one of the most highly sought after(sic) collections of poetry we have ever published...

    The Falling Rain
    Library of Congress ISBN-1-58235-134-1
    The Falling Rain, scheduled for publication in Fall 2000, will be a classic, coffee-table quality hardbound volume--printed on fine-milled paper specifically selected to last for generations. It will make a handsome addition to any library, a treadured family keepsake, or a highly valued personal gift.

    NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER

    {note: the accompanying proof form makes it VERY difficult to figure out how NOT to order this book}

    Before going any further, (name), let me make one thing clear... your poem was selected for publication, and as a contest semi-finalist, on the basis of your unique talent and artistic vision. We believe it will add to the importance and appeal of this edition. In this regard, you are under no obligation whatsoever to submit any entry fee, any subsidy payment, or to make any pruchase of any kind. Of course, many people do wish to own a copy of the anthology in which their artistry appears. If this is the case, we welcome your order--and guarantee your satisfaction. Please see the enclosed material for special discount information if you would like to acquire a copy of The Falling Rain.

    SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

    As I mentioned, your poem has automatically been advanced to the final competition--so you do not need to take further action on the contest at this time. However, regarding the publication of your poetry, you must proofread your poem, which appears on the enclosed Artist's Proof. Please carefully review your poem fortypographical errors an dmake any necessary changes. The Artist's Proof also verifies that "Happy Kerpuffle Fluff" is your original work of art. And (name), let me assure you, your poem remains your property--The Falling Rain is copyrighted as a compilation. The copyright notice is in your name. This means that you retain the copyright to your own work of art.

    You must also decide if you would like to have some personal information about yoruself and your poetry included in this elegant edition. {note: I was originally considering using strong language to describe aforementioned tripe, but I thought better of it. :)} In this way, the media and public can gain a greater awareness about your motivations, the meaning poetry has in your life, the story behind your poem, or your personal philosophical point of view. We have set aside a special biographical section in the anthology for this purpose. And although we must charge a nominal fee for this service {note: holy crap, I never saw anything about THIS on the form, the bastards}, you are under no obligation to include this information. Your poem can be published without it if you wish. Please see the enclosed Artist's Profile for further information. {note: Rereading the form, it's a "nominal" $25. Well fuck, I don't think I'll send in the proof at all anymore. It'll be good refrigerator art for my mom I guess.}

    In the meantime, our design department has already begun working on a distinctive layout for the poetry selected fo this anthology. But remember, you must complete the enclosed Artist's Proof and return it to us as soon as possible. And, if you wish to acquire a copy of The Falling Rain at a contributor's special pre-publication discount, please complete the appropriate information, also on the Artist's Proof.

    Again, congratulations, (name). We feel you have a special talent and look forward to the publication of your poem in The Falling Rain.

      Sincerely,

      Howard Ely
      Managing Editor

    P.S. (name), you should be genuinely proud of your accomplishment. Of the thousands of poems we read each year {what? you guys just started up, and this was your first contest!}, only a fraction can be published. We are pleased that "Happy Kerpuffle Fluff" will appropriately achieve the recognition that a national publication can give it. And, if you order The Falling Rain, we are so confident that you will love both the quality of the edition and the way your poem is presented, we can proudly offer an unconditional money-back guarantee. If for any reason you are dissatisfied, your money will be promptly refunded.
Well, that settles it: Happy Kerpuffle Fluff is officially art.
Oh, right, poetry.com. This place is hilarious.. what they do is have you submit your poetry and then offer to put it into an overly expensive book that no one important will ever read. Thus, the catch here is this: you end up giving them money (if you're stupid enough), and they make a killing by selling crappy books (that probably look good, I've never bought one). I entered one poem a long time ago just to see what happened, and I soon figured out it was all pretty lame/stupid.

The funniest thing was when they sent me a "congratulations you're the dreamiest poet ever" thing for someone else's poem, because I sure hadn't written the piece of complete crap that they were trying to say was mine. Ah well.. I suppose the illusion that someone really likes your poetry enough to put it into a book might be fun for some people, so if you've got some time to waste.. enjoy! (Their form letters are really fun, aren't they?)

Oh, simply ignoring their mailing's is sufficient. They are fairly infrequent and therefore not too entirely terrible.
Cheese (by me)

Cheese, oh cheese! You rock!
Cheese is good and great,
Something to celebrate!
So much do I like cheese,
it makes me week in the knees.
It's not like cardboard, it's not like wood,
It tastes just like it should.
Like cheese.

Yes, this too is a semi-finalist and going to be published (in celebration of my "unique talent") in Nature's Echoes (Just $49.95, or two copies for a mere $80.00!)

"The easy path to publication is paid with your dollars"

-http://www.writer.org/scamkit.htm

Fifty books per year, at approximately 600 pages each. Multiply that by the amount of poems/poets per page, 6. Multiply that by the price per book, $50 US. It seems there's a lot of money to be made off of the unwary. The International Library of Poetry (aka. Poetry.com, aka. International Society of Poets, aka. International Poetry Hall of Fame, aka. Watermark Press) makes literal millions each year off of unsuspecting dupes. I entered, too. I was a semi-finalist, too. They wanted to put my poetry on cd/cassette. And if I wanted to see my work in writing? Well then, I'd just have to pay just like everyone else.

Check out http://wind.wind.org/literary.scams.htm, a page dedicated to the scams such as the ILP.

How many times have I tested this system? I think that about five pieces of my 'art' have been published in a 'beautiful coffee table' edition. The hilarious titles of the books make me question their validity; I believe one that something of mine was published in was called A Fleeting Shadow . Semi-finalist means nothing other than the fact that it gives the company a way to attempt to convince you to buy this 'wonderful' book that your award-winning poem (which you see no proof of) has been published. In other words, it's a crock.

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