If you don't think poetry is big business, guess again.

Today, as I was going through my gmail, I noticed the following targeted "sponsored links" hawking contests, publications, MFA programs, and even writing gigs for poets:

-----Dorothy Prizes



-----Create Space


-----Poetry LA

-----Antioch LA MFA

-----Sheetz Poet (Sheetz is a local convenience store chain.)

----------More About...

---------------Humorous Poems

---------------Short Poems


---------------Romantic Poems

No doubt that many of the ads on this blog are targeted toward the poetry money-making machine.

And, guess what? I am thoroughly unapologetic about the possibility that poets might make money from their work and that this site might keep afloat because of ad revenue.

Capitalism! It's the American Way!

In my opinion, the Jeffrey Levine and Joan Houlihan publications, contests, and conferences are no different from Poetry[dot]com or any other poetry money-making enterprise.

Here's a comparison and contrast of Tupelo and Poetry[dot]com:


Tupelo: Fee-based contests

Poetry[dot]com: Free contests


Tupelo: Organizes and runs expensive conferences filled with celebrity poets (albeit mostly unknown outside of poetry).

Poetry[dot]com: Organizies and runs lavish (and expensive) conferences filled with big name mainstream celebrities, who often have little to do with poetry.


Tupelo: Publishes books of the so-called elite (often friends and cronies of the owners), primarily funded by reading and contest fees collected by unsuspecting poets.

Poetry[dot]com: In lieu of a contest fee, publishes vanity books and then hits up poets to buy the volume in which their poems appear, thus basing their on profits from its published poets directly.


Tupelo and other "non-profits" simply hide behind credentials and the sacred word of


and act outraged that this haloed word would be besmirched by those who would dare to make major money from poetry and then have the audacity to question the Levine/Houlihan "mission" of promoting poetry.

At least with Poetry[dot]com and others like them, one quickly figures out their main mission: to make scads of money off the young, naive, and ignorant.

The so-called literary mainstream hides behind shell non-profit corporations, thus perpetuating a huge con designed to snare young and not-so-young hopefuls into sending money to contests where winners have been decided in advance.

Do you, at the expense of your own career and pocketbook, want to fund the career of a foet?

Do all literary contests fall under this umbrella? Of course not, but enough do that one would do well to do a thorough search before committing to sending money. On both Post Foetry and Poets.net, this has been my mantra.

Christopher Woodman learned this lesson the hard way: for his Tupelo reading fee, he was promised a short personal review of his poetry collection.

What he actually received: a form letter.

Big business, indeed.

Come to think of it, I actually prefer poetry[dot]com's business model--at least its antics are fairly easy to figure out.


  1. Tupelo v. Poetry (dot) com


    Great job, Jennifer.

    Both Tupelo and Poetry (dot) com "hide behind credentials and the sacred word of POETRY..."

    Sad, but true!


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