Enoch Pratt Library: Contest Provides Opportunity for Poets

By Jack Despeaux
Student Life Editor

Picture yourself standing at a podium: an audience of sophisticated poetry lovers sit before you, an undergraduate with high aspirations. Your name is published in a national journal, and there’s a full window display of you and your work. To get all of this, you think, and it didn’t even cost a dime.

That’s what the winner of the Enoch Pratt Library Poetry Contest will receive.

Until March 1, the Enoch Pratt Library, a poetry journal, will be accepting students’ original poetry in a nation-wide contest.

The contest is a “great, free opportunity for budding poets,” said Lindsay Lusby, the associate director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House.

Washington College is seen as a source of young poets by the library, and the Literary House likes to help publicize Enoch Pratt, Lusby said. 

“Pratt Library reaches out to Lit House and asks us— as the hub of creative writing— to help promote it to interested students for high quality poetry submissions,” she said. 

While there is no direct tie-in between WC and Enoch Pratt, Lusby said, Enoch Pratt enjoys the works of the large undergraduate population of poets that WC has to offer.

Lusby said that the Enoch Pratt Library runs the contest every year in conjunction with another regional literary journal. This year the regional journal is the Little Patunxent Review.

Director of Media Relations Wendy Clarke had her poem, “Beachcombing,” published this winter’s issue. 

“I consider Little Patunxent Review to be among the top literary journals,” she said. “I was thrilled to finally have a poem accepted there.”

Runners-up in the contest will still have the opportunity to be published by Little Patunxent Review.

To enter the contest, one has to be 18 or older, and they have to submit original, unpublished work. Online publication and social media counts for being published. The poems cannot exceed 100 lines, and Little Patunxent Review or the Enoch Pratt Library staff cannot submit, nor can any previous winners of the contest.

There is no monetary prize for winning the contest, but publication in a national journal is a very important step for up-and-coming poets, Lusby said.

“Part of what a writer does includes submitting one’s work—in other words, finding an audience,” said Dr. James Hall, director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House. “Many writers don’t feel like a piece is done before it has achieved a readership.  Finding the right audience, though, is important, especially for very early, beginning writers.”

Dr. Hall, Lusby, and Clarke would all agree that the opportunity to submit to the contest, and even perform a reading of one’s work, would be a phenomenal beginning for a writer. Clarke’s experience with her reading was especially inspiring to her. 

“It was a full house, with writers who came from across the country to read their work,” she said. “The stories, essays, and poems encompassed a wide range of styles and topics, but every one of them was powerful, and being part of that was truly inspiring. I felt honored to be there.”

The contest is an “excellent opportunity for young writers who probably have not published in a national literary journal before to get their work seen and read,” Lusby said. “It doesn’t cost you anything, there’s nothing to lose.”

For any questions regarding the contest, email Shaileen Beyer at sbeyer@prattlibrary.org.

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