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‘WINNER!’ or the down side of poetry contests

“Brown sludge falling from a rainbow lit sky

Cause me to wonder about celestial toilets.

But I know not everything

About this and that and whatever

So I will ride my bike until my knees hurt.”

Here’s a guarantee: if you enter the above into any one of many “Poetry Contests,” you WILL be a winner and your work WILL get published.

The questionable contests are not about monetary prizes (or if they are, there will be only one prize and you can bet your booties that the recipient will be the contest promoter’s mother). They are instead about recognition.

If you don’t believe me, try it.

Within a month or two of your entry, you’ll receive that golden “You’re a Winner” letter. Your prize? Publication of your work in the 2014 volume of “The Anthology of Great Poetry” — or some such slobbery titled tome. You and the other esteemed “winners” (don’t kid yourself, that means everybody who entered) will receive a page in this leather-bound book.

You’ll see your work and your name in print and, guess what, so will every individual who is fortunate enough to add this book to their library. Predominately the other authors.

Of course there will be papers to sign and rights of publication to be granted. Sign here. Sign there. Sign everywhere; it all adds to the perception of legitimacy.

And, by the way, Mr. Poet or Ms. Poetess, as a winner you will also receive the opportunity to purchase copies of “your” book at deeply discounted prices.

Instead of paying the $109 list price for this 14-karat pseudo gold embossed volume of loveliness, you can purchase one for only $79. But wait, if you’d like to thrill your friends and family, why not take advantage of the bulk opportunity?

Winners may purchase a dozen copies at a truly astounding discount price; just $25 per book. Send in $300 (plus shipping and handling, of course) and you will have gifts galore for upcoming holidays, weddings, bar mitzvahs and charity door prizes.

Not only that, but just think how extra special it will be if you, a winning author, autograph the book?

OK, I admit it. I’m pushing this button a little bit too hard.

My real intent is to warn you that a good share of contest entry opportunities are nothing of the sort. The reality is that they are moneymaking opportunities for scammers looking to score a quick buck at the expense of gullible victims who want to believe that they are legitimately being recognized for their creative talent.

If these scams were not profitable, the “contest” promoters would not continue to run them.

But they are — and they do. Before you get taken to the poetic cleaners and burden your entire family with dust attracting poetry books — Stop! Think! Avoid! And remember TANSTAAFL. There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.

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