If you've been submitting to lit journals in Canada for awhile, you're probably familiar with some of the big writing contests: The CBC Literary Prizes, CV2's Young Buck, The Malahat Review's Open Season Awards, The Walrus Poetry Prize, The Bronwen Wallace Award, there are tons of them. If there's interest, let me know I'll compile a list, because I'm the kind of nutbar who invites tough competition, apparently. Ideally, I'd like to be a pistachio nutbar, because I really gel with pistachios symbolically: Hard shell, pretty hard insides, sometimes I don't open up, and if you eat me, I'm a good source of protein. It's a nearly flawless comparison.
One of the major contests that I submit to every year without any expectation of winning is Arc Poetry Magazine's Poem of the Year Contest. It's a fantastic contest because not only is there an editor's pick, there's a reader's pick, which is also a huge honour. So there are two awesome titles and a bunch of cash to be won.
This year I thought I had a pretty good submission. They're all poems I'm proud of, diverse in content and form, they represent some of my best work to date. But this was not my year, and if you go check out the Arc Poem of the Year shortlist you will be treated to some incredible, next level poetry.
A contest this big gets a ton of entries, and lit journals don't typically send responses to people who don't make the shortlist, so the rejection letter for my 12th "no" of the year isn't exciting, but the poems are. And you can vote on them! The poetry in this list gives me something to strive for. It reminds me that while I have grown, there is a ton of growing to do. If you're a writer, a reader, a person with time on their hands, a person who enjoys clicking links for the appealing sound your mouse or track pad makes, I highly recommend checking it out and casting a vote. You'll be contributing so much to someone's joy if you do, and, you get one of these!
Not being on the shortlist was hugely disappointing, I had all the typical symptoms of being bummed out: Heart sinking, temporary hatred of every last thing I've ever written, oddly itchy wrists, the desire to rush myself forward in my artistic growth process. (Which is a douchey thing to say, but it's the truth, and sometimes the truth is douchey.) But the bad feelings were short lived. Not being on the shortlist was disappointing. The shortlist isn't. It's invigorating. And I know how good I have to be if I want to make that list next year.
[WRITING REJECTION 12/100]
*Name did not appear on the shortlist.*
So if I can quote Li Shang from Disney's Mulan:
Until next time,
- E.B. Kirsh