Narrative’s fourth annual poetry contest runs from May 15 until July 17. In a continuing effort to encourage and support talented poets, we’re offering prizes, publication to the top three winners, and widespread public announcement of all winners and finalists via the Internet. Narrative is always looking for new voices, so all entries will be considered for publication in the magazine.
Notes on the contest: As with literary reading in general, poetry reading has been declining. There’s debate about the exact statistical rate and the causes of the decline, and there are many good venues for poetry today, yet the number of adults who read poetry, as surveyed by the NEA, has decreased by approximately half in the past two decades. Less than 10 percent of adults read any poetry at all. More than ever, the economics of poetry are such that poetry is for the most part a subsidized, rather than a profitable, enterprise. Poets and poetry publishers are engaged in labors of love, aided by donors who believe in the importance of poetry.
Narrative is a nonprofit organization, and its poetry program, like its other programs, depends largely on the support of many dedicated individuals who contribute resources and time to make the magazine possible. We are committed to paying our authors as well as possible and to creating as much attention as possible for their work. The overall cost of publishing poetry (payments to authors, production costs, awards and prizes, promotion) is far more than what comes in from poetry-related reading and entry fees—the income is nowhere close to the expense. Our reasons for publishing poetry are not about submission fees but about wanting poetry to be an important part of what we do and wanting to give back as much as we can, because literature contributes so much to life.
Narrative has more than 100,000 readers and receives more than a million page views a month. The audience is large and growing, and its size gives us a chance to put poets and poetry in front of many more readers than most venues can. We’re working hard to get the magazine, and all our authors and artists, into the world via digital and other means—for free—to as many people as possible.
Participating in Narrative, whether simply by reading, by becoming a donor, or by introducing a friend to the magazine, is a vote to encourage and sustain literary work at a time when its existence is challenged.