WARNING! Before Entering the Next "Discovery"/Boston Review 2008 Poetry Contest...

Poets.net is not going to get into evaluating the individual merits of literary contests, but the following blurb cannot go unnoticed:

Now in its fifth decade, the "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Contest, formerly "Discovery"/The Nation, is designed to attract large audiences to poets who have not yet published a book. This year, the Poetry Center is proud to partner with Boston Review. Four winners are awarded a reading at the Y (set for Monday, May 5, 8:15 pm), publication in the Boston Review and $500. Timothy Donnelly, poetry editor at Boston Review, coordinates the contest, and three leading poets are invited to judge.

We're pleased to announce that Jorie Graham, Reginald Shepherd and James Tate will judge in 2008. Many winners of this contest have gone on to distinguished careers as poets, among them Marilyn Hacker, Katha Pollitt, Mary Jo Salter and Gary Soto.

See here for source.

Very interesting piece, given that Jorie Graham has supposedly “retired” from judging contests. Before entering this contest (or any other contest with her name attached to it), please check out the Foetry Archive.

Essentially, Ms. Graham has a penchant for selecting friends, students, and lovers (the most notorious, her now-husband Peter Sacks) for major prizes, so before writing that check, you might want to check around on the internet before deciding to send money. [Update: Thankfully, the deadline has passed for this year's contest.]

If Boston Review is smart, its staff will "retire" Jorie Graham from its slate of judges.


  1. You know I can't resist commenting on this one. Jorie Graham should never be asked nor permitted to judge a contest ever again. She is completely and totally unsuitable. Not only has she proven herself an unethical judge repeatedly, but this return re-emphasizes her seeming inability to tell the truth.

    A few more comments: I would have loved to hear the negotiations between Reggie and Jorie, especially since he's been so critical of his alleged mistreatment by her. Also, as my friends over at the Virginia Quarterly Review might ask: what is the nature of the relationship between Tate and Graham. Have they had any history together?

    Finally, since the contest charges $10 per entry and awards a meager $500 per winner, I wonder if the endowment by Joan L. and Dr. Julius H. Jacobson, II is necessary? They might consider giving their money to a respectable cause.

  2. A final thought: I noticed there's no "Jorie Graham Rule" in this contest. It almost makes me want to know whether the winners are connected to any of the judges. I don't have the energy or time to find out, but nothing would surprise me. And as we all know, anonymous poems (without names attached) doesn't solve the problem. The three judges are competent enough readers to recognize their friends' work.

  3. I am reminded of one of those of words I learned in High school:



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