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When a Poetry Contest Prize Really is a Poetry Contest Prize by: I.B. Iskov

Several of the contests sponsored by The Ontario Poetry Society incorporate the rule:

“Poems may be previously published, but no contest winning prize poems are allowed”.

It is easy to identify First, Second, Third place poem as prize winning, but what about secondary
prizes including Honourable Mention Awards, Judge’s Choice Awards, and Runner Up Awards.

Recently the Executive got together to make this decision.

Here are our conclusions about secondary prizes:

If a poem’s title and author name are announced on a web site, and the poet has not received
an award certificate, cash or had the poem published anywhere, then the author of the poem
is free to change the title of the poem and re-enter it into another contest.

If the poem has won publication in a book, magazine, on-line or in a literary journal and has
not received an award certificate or any cash, then the poem is only previously published
and may be re-entered into another contest.

However, if the author of the poem with the secondary prize has received an award certificate
and had the poem published in a book, journal, magazine or on-line, even without a cash prize,
this poem is still a prize winning poem. If you check T.O.P.S. poetry contests, most
Honourable Mention Award winning poems do have a cash prize attached, or a prize
of a free book with their poem published inside it. All of these poetry contest award winning
poems receive an award certificate, unless they are runner up prizes and are therefore
considered previously published only.

Kindly remember, that if your poem has won a secondary prize in a previous contest held by
The Ontario Poetry Society, and is eligible to be re-entered into another contest because
the poem did not receive an award certificate, the Executive recommends you do not enter
it into another T.O.P.S. poetry contest, since the judge may have read the poem in
the publication. Many of our judges are members of The Ontario Poetry Society.