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 over the past sixteen years. In 2008 only 8.3 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. The reason we publish poetry is not about 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’s circulation is almost one 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. 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.
Submission Fee: There is a $20 fee for each entry. And with your entry, you’ll receive three months of complimentary access to Narrative Backstage.
Timing: The contest entry deadline is July 18, 2009, at midnight Pacific Standard Time.
Judging: The contest will be judged by the editors of the magazine. Winners and finalists will be announced to the public by September 15, 2009. All writers who enter will be notified by email of the judges’ decisions.
Submission Guidelines: Submissions may contain up to five poems. Your submission should give a strong sense of your style and range. We accept submissions of all poetic forms and genres but do not accept translations. Please read our Submission Guidelines for manuscript formatting and other information.
Other Submission Categories: In addition to our poetry contest, please review our other Submission Categories for areas that may interest you.