We here at Baltimore’s Most Reading-Is-Fundamental Alternative Weekly always get a little shell-shocked around Fiction and Poetry Contest time every year. The sheer volume of entries is enough to make even the most endurance-tested bookworm wilt. And this year is no exception, with nearly 300 poetry entries and almost 200 short fiction pieces landing in our laps like unexploded ordnance, each parcel of lines and narrative a potential winner.
And then there’s that whole “contest” part of the process. We know all too well that one person’s David Markson is another’s David Baldacci, that for every one Zadie Smith fan there’s some 1,000 people sucking at the trite teat of Danielle Steele. Not everybody shares our taste, so who are we to judge? As with everything else, best we can say is that we may not always know Auden-esque romantic irony from Romancing the Stone, but we know what we like.
The first round of poetry entries were judged by City Paper’s editorial staff, and the final winners were judged by CP’s very own Wendy Ward and Baltimore poets Olu Butterfly and Native Son. The first round of short fiction finalists were determined by Bret McCabe and Wendy Ward, and the finalists were voted upon by CP contributing writers J. Bowers and Violet Glaze. In addition to having their winning entries published in this very issue, the winners take home something even better: cold hard cash. In fiction, the first-place winner takes home $350, second garners $250, and third gets $150. Poets pick up $150, $100, and $50, respectively.