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When I receive the list of winners from the jurors in my email, they look like this:

  • Gravedigger’s Admonition-543 B
  • Mosul, Iraq: “Pearl of the North”-542-C
  • Little Poems-529-B

The first thing I do is go through the submission forms, match the numbers with the poet and the letters with the poem.  Then I go through our pile of all of the poems, which by now I have put in numerical order and pull the winning poems. I write the poet’s name on each winning poem. (Be very careful to spell the names right) I make two copies of the poems.  One set of copies will go to the person who creates our chapbook.  She gets the poems as soon as possible, because we want time to check and recheck the chapbook for errors.

In contacting  all of the poets who entered, my goal is to get all of the letters in the mail three weeks from the original poetry deadline date.  The twenty five winning poets receive a letter of congratulation, a release form, a sheet with questions for their introduction and questions about their workshop attendance. Samples of the forms are prvided. We also include a self addressed stamped envelope so the winners will send everything back to the library as soon as possible.

Letters are also sent to the poets who did not win. Our letter invites them to Poets Night Out and thanks them for entering. The letter also encourages each poet  to come and read at our Kick-off to National Poetry Month in April.  The entries from schools are either sent back if they provide an envelope or taken down to the front desk for the teachers to pick up.  All students receive letters also.

The Prizes

When the list of poems comes back to me in email I assign the prizes and determine who will read for the Audience Prizes.

We award 13 juried prizes; all juried winners read in the second half of the program.  Those are the top 9 poets and 4 student prizes.  The student poems are not always in the top 13, but we include 4 students in our top 13 prizes every year, 2 middle school students and 2 high school students. Sometimes we have had more than four students in our juried prizes, there is not an age limit on who can win any of the juried prizes. Our prizes consist of : 3 TADL/Friends Prizes, 4 Student Prizes, 2 TADL/Trustee Prizes, 1 Martha Vreeland Prize,  1 Clark, Walter, Sirrine Prize, 1 Charles Opple Prize, and the highest prize in the juror’s prize the Horizon Books Prize, which is a $50.00 gift certificate donated by Horizon Books.

The 12 poets who read in the first half of the program are all in the running for two prizes selected by the audience attending Poets’ Night Out.  I make up ballots with the names of all poets who are not receiving juried prizes.  Usually we have two sets of 6 poets on the ballots which are given out to all audience members.  I choose the order by looking at the poems.  I try to balance length, subject matter and the mood of the poems between the two sets of readers.  After I welcome everyone to Poet’s Night Out I explain the voting process.  Audience members are asked to choose 2 out of 12 poets. This has worked well for us; the audience takes the voting very seriously.  They are awarding 2 prizes of $50.00 each, which are given at the very end of the evening.

Most of our prize money comes from the Friends of the Library.  Over the years we have added more prizes as people ask to donate a prize in memory of someone.  We have been able to add a prize or two every year.

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