Monday, February 8, 2010

Who Are Our Winners, How Are They Chosen, and Where Are They Found?

So what kind of people enter amateur poetry contests? Here at Eber & Wein Publishing, we have discovered that just about every kind of person in fact enters our contests. We receive poetry from five-year-olds, ninety-five year olds, and of course everyone in between. Our participants are grade school students, college students, tradesmen, working professionals, stay-at-home mothers, farmers, clergy, and prison inmates. Many are true students of poetry who enjoy studying and learning from the works of professional and classic poets, while others enjoy writing poetry at a more leisurely level.

One of our most recent second prize winners of $100, Jovel Queirolo, was most excited about her poem “Cold Tea” being published in Treasures, volume 10 of The Wishing Well series. She has been writing poetry since she was a teenager and her goal is to one day publish her own book of poems, “To somehow combine a love of the written word and philosophy to better understand my world,” she says. When asked about her overall experience with the contest, Queirolo remarks, “What you’re doing for young poets like me is great. It gives us a sense that what we do with our poetry matters. Poetry matters. And it always will.”

Another interesting participant and second place winner is Friedrich “Fred” Wurzbach, a painter, handyman, custodian, mason, school bus driver, and philosopher. His goal as a poet is to “keep writing better poems, perfect the craft, to try making rhymes and music to the ear while telling a story or exploring abstract concepts.” Wurzbach’s poem “Sheila” is featured in Gatherings, volume 6 of The Wishing Well series.

Sue Binder, a mental health counselor who has been writing poetry for fifty-five years, finds inspiration in her work, which deals with domestic violence and that often involves working with inmates in the prison system. She claims she “had some emotional feedback from inmates in prison when they read my poem in your book. Hopefully, thought-provoking to them . . . one can only hope.” Sue’s poem “Anticipation” is featured in Recollections, volume 4 in The Wishing Well series.

Although most of our winners and many participants contact us in one way or another, we unfortunately don’t have nearly the amount of space it would take to share the stories of all of them. But the message we wish to convey is this: our contest is for anyone of any background and any education level. As it is an amateur contest, our intentions are to be inclusive rather than exclusive—which means formal training in creative writing is not a must. As a matter of fact, a good number of our winners have not had any formal training in poetry (although a nice introduction to poetry handbook is always helpful). So what stands out to our judges here at Eber and Wein? Most of our participants are well aware that what distinguishes poetry from prose are prevalent poetic elements such as imagery and figurative language (the use of metaphor). Rhyme and meter are also important when dealing with a more traditional style of poetry, and alliteration, personification, assonance, are various other techniques one can employ the use of to enhance poetic appeal. Poems that contain evidence of any of these combined with theme, tone, and language stand out the most. A good rhyming poem has a set meter and is free of forced rhyme. In a free verse poem, language should be vivid, surprising, detailed—not vague, general, and cliché. Of course one thing we really like to see is when poets attempt a particular style, for example the villanelle, pantoum, limerick, etc. So who has a decent chance at winning our contest? Anyone who is passionate about the craft of poetry and who makes a concerted effort to employ poetic elements and technique!

We would love nothing more than to be able to publish an anthology that includes all the winners of a contest; however, because some take much longer than others to return their Author’s Proof , it is just not possible. Therefore, the poems of our prizewinners are scattered throughout a series. Some volumes of a series may include more winning poems than others, but this is completely random. Winners and semi-finalists alike are assigned to whichever book is ready for the layout process at the time we receive their signed Author’s Proof. And although the majority of our winners do return their Author’s Proof, some do not. Without this signed document giving consent to publish, we will not include them in the anthologies.


  1. This is great information. I participated in this contest and it really got my creative juices flowing. Thank you Eber and Wein Publishing for giving a poet like me and opportunity to share my poetry.

  2. Hi Brenda,

    Thanks for posting, we really appreciate the positive feedback!


  3. A friend of mine recently received his book, and I have never seen him so thrilled. I'm pretty sure he didn't place in the contest, but I don't think he cares. It was more important to have his own words in print, something he shows many of the customers that come into his bar. It's a lot of fun to see the creative side of a person, especially when most people's jobs don't give them that opportunity.

  4. This is great information. I am glad you've taken a proactive approach to answering the contestants questions. I've created my own blog trying to promote your contest. I hope more people will enter, it's gratifying seeing your work in print and you guys do a great job. Thanks for all of you help.

  5. Thank you!

  6. Thank you guys for reading my poem i submitted.
    i look forward to hearing back from you guys.
    thanks again for the consideration.

  7. thank you for reading my poem and hopefully i will go to the next level of the contest.

  8. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my words with you. Hopefully you will enjoy them and maybe give me the opportunity to write more of them.

  9. Thank You and I hope you like my poem I wrote it from my the things I'm going threw in my Life now. I was honest with my poem and I hope you liked it. Thank You!

  10. I am so glad I came to find your site and contest. I am a teacher's aid at the local High School, and am intending to use this contest as part of our lesson plans. There are a lot of voices out there that need to be heard, and the more we can promote the use of literature in art and everyday use, our kids will be better off. Words are the music to our souls.