When I was 15 years old, I took a tiny bit of positive feedback about my mediocre poetry writing capabilities and RAN WITH IT.
I entered a poem “This Is Me” into a poetry contest on Poetry.com. I did not win. Nor did I even make top 100. But I did get my poem published in their annual compilation.
Which you had to buy.
When I received my copy (which is kinda crusty and dirty. Sue me) of the book, I quickly found my submission way back on page 58. Twenty-two-ish years later I had to look in the index. And I had to remind myself that my last name was different then too 🤦♀️.
Anyway, I don’t remember if I legitimately read through each individual poem or if I happened to stumble upon the subject of this post. But here it is:
Now, I read the poem, thinking, “wow. That’s a lovely poem.” But then it sounded familiar.
Why was it familiar?
One of my most prized and oldest possessions is a book given to me by my grandmother.
“One Thousand Beautiful Things” also a compilation of poems and other works. This book was made pre-copyright dates. Googling from years ago told me it was from 1947. Making it now 74 years old. My copy is legit falling apart.
Now, fifteen year old me thought I’d stumbled on to some kind of conspiracy. This dude entered a VERY OLD poem by a fairly well known author into a poetry contest where there was a MONETARY PRIZE.
Thirty-seven year old me (who may or may not have attempted to Google this guy) now thinks it is a mildly hilarious bit of plagiarism. Oh and for good measure here is the dude’s about me from the back of the book.
Now, according to research I’ve done as of late has led me to the conclusion that it means absolutely hogwash.
Hogwash you say?
Hogwash, I do indeed say. The company that owned Poetry.com—“International Library of Poetry” basically went bankrupt and shut down in 2009 (my poem was submitted and book was printed in 1999). The website Poetry.com was then sold to Lulu.com, a self-publishing site (ironically one I’ve used before). After that it was sold and resold a few times (I guess).
Another issue is that most of the anthologies by companies like the International Library of Poetry are not formally accepted, approved, or published by the Library of Congress. So these books are not found or stored by the library. The legit one not thr failed business one.
Also, and I promise I’m almost done, the International Library of Poetry (or ILP) had numerous complaints even back in 1999 with the BBB of Maryland, and that they qualified them as a “vanity publisher” with absolutely no rules or consideration for submissions.
Long Story Long
Even if this guy’s poem had been more than just a semi-finalist (there were thousands, they said I was) and had made it further, it didn’t matter because honestly did anyone ever read them?
The thing that reminded me of all this, after 20-something years? Mary Shelly’s birthday. You know? The author of Frankenstein? She was married the Percy Bysshe Shelley. But THAT’S a wild story for another time.
Thanks for Reading