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Bad Poetry Contest: You Decide How Much Money You Win

Have you ever written a poem? Now, before you say, “No, because I’d suck at it,” hear me out: that is exactly the point of this contest. To see who among us can write the worst poem. Yes, I’m going to write one as well, but I will not be entering the competition.

I’m not a big fan of good poetry, or even great poetry. But I do love bad poetry. I love to read it, I love to write it, and a bit of competition will make this even more fun.

Don’t think it will be easy

Timelessly good poetry is nearly impossible to write. That’s why there’s so little of it. But I would argue that timelessly bad poetry is just as difficult to create, or even more so. If you read a collection like Very Bad Poetry, you quickly see that the authors included would be horrified to find their names in the book. They unintentionally wrote some horrors that have withstood the test of time.

For some horrific examples of what is bad, vs. merely mediocre or boring or unskilled, Here’s my review of Very Bad Poetry.

Our challenge, then, is to intentionally create something awful that will stand up against poems that were awful by accident.

Here’s how it’s going to work

  • For $1.00, you can enter one bad poem.
  • You can submit as many entries as you like, but each will cost $1.00
  • You can pay through the paypal button at the end of this post
  • I recommend not paying until you’ve written a poem and are ready to submit it
  • After paying, please submit your poem through my contact form
  • I will accept entries until August 31
  • I will spend September narrowing it down to the top 10 worst poems with a panel of objective judges
  • I’ll announce the winner, who will win a cash prize

This is where it gets exciting

The winner will receive, in cash, one half of the amount generated by entry fees. I keep the other half. This means that if there are five entries at $1.00 each, the winner will receive $2.50.

But if there are 1000 entries, the winner will receive $500. And if there are 1,000,000 entries…well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but you get the idea. And I’ll give updates periodically about how many entries I’ve received.

I’m extremely curious to see how far we can take this. Please Tweet it, put it on Facebook and wherever else you go on your travels. Let’s create a buzz and write some really, really crappy stuff:)

Sound like fun?

And have you joined the World’s Strongest Book Club?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Eric | Eden Journal June 7, 2010, 6:46 am

    This is such a great flash of marketing genius. Low entry fee, open to anyone that can write (and especially for those that can write poorly,) and the winner of this bad writing takes home half the cash. I love it. Plus you get paid to read bad poetry (which apparently you like to read anyway.)

    This is the best blog contest I’ve seen yet. I’ll see if I can hack together an awful poem so I can get a piece of the million dollar prize.

  • Jodi Kaplan June 7, 2010, 9:04 am

    Shades of the Edward Bulwer-Lytton contest. 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne June 7, 2010, 9:13 am

      I’m not familiar with that Jodi. enlighten me? Please?

      • Jodi Kaplan June 7, 2010, 2:14 pm

        It’s a contest to write the worst possible opening sentence of a novel. It’s named after Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote dreadful Victorian fiction.

        The first few words of his most famous (or infamous) first sentence, were repeatedly plagiarized by Snoopy, “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

    • Rhamantus June 7, 2010, 10:11 pm

      I was reminded of the Bulwer Lytton contest, too! I love reading that stuff! 🙂

  • Josh Hanagarne June 7, 2010, 9:23 am

    For anyone looking for examples of really, really bad poetry:



    I actually started a blog based on that first poem, but that was long ago:)

  • Todd June 7, 2010, 9:38 am

    I suck at poetry – this may be my shot at glory. I feel a Haiku coming on.

  • Josh,

    You have done it again. I agree that this is an excellent marketing idea and could have hundreds of uses. I hope that the poetry reaches the 1,000,000 mark.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  • Jeremy June 7, 2010, 7:55 pm

    Beautiful idea. I write crappy poetry myself. I’m rather good at it. I am impressed with your creativity.

  • The Naked Redhead June 9, 2010, 10:28 am

    I’m in! Like, um, Flynn. See? An entry!

  • Konstantin January 28, 2011, 10:36 am

    A splendid idea, but you yourself point out its intrinsic flaw: “to INTENTIONALLY create something awful”, which is not how the very bad poetry is brought into the world. “The midnight song’s an afterthought, // and truly bad // genitum, non fac-// tum est // or ought // to be (sounds like an entry into
    contest, // doesn’t it, now?).” May I belatedly suggest an amendment: to award the prize to the SECOND worst, to a loser even at her/his baddest?