Declining the Tom Howard Poetry Prize...an explanation
"The higher one hoists oneself aloft, the further one has to plunge ..."
I was hoping to put this off until I heard back from the contest judges but since I know what my decision is, I think I better say something before I get any more undeserved accolades.
After all the excitement over this win last night, I was pretty devastated around noon today when my husband casually mentioned, after reading the winning poem and saying how good it was, "even if the capital's not Vancouver".
Now, this probably won't make sense to any of you but my poem depends a good deal on the accuracy of the capital of British Columbia being correct, and I screwed it up royally in this poem and have pointed it out, and obviously, several times in the poem. I doubt that everyone would spot it but I know most Canadians will and certainly the poets I write with here
The more I read over the poem, the more glaring the discrepancies appeared and while my husband felt horrible of course, I had to hand it to him - 1) I'm glad he spotted the error before the poem was published (to have the blowback from this kind of error might have really undone me; winningwriters - I may have said this before - has over 40,000 readers and over a million "hits" a year) and 2) I wish I had had my first and best fan and critic read this poem before I sent it (Terry generally reads everything I write). Lesson learned, I hope.
I sent a letter to the judges this afternoon explaining my situation and offering to decline the prize and withdraw my poem. I know this is not unheard of as poets have withdrawn poems before if they've sold them while waiting for results, so I'm sure there won't be a problem on that count. I'm not sure they've had anyone withdraw a poem on these grounds.
As Terry keeps telling me, I need to remember I won second place with my poem so some judges read it and felt it was good. The reason I'm withdrawing it and turning down the prize money is a judgement call that I'm making and really has more to do with me as a person and less to do with how good a poet I am. After I stop feeling so crappy, I will try to remember that. Sigh.