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Comments About Judging


Did you enter our contest but are disappointed not to have won a prize? Do you wonder how the judges determined the winners? We hope the following information will be helpful and encouraging.

Not all good poems win prizes
Writing a good poem does not guarantee a win—each contest draws a number of worthy entries. The fact that your poem did not win a prize does not mean it is not a good poem. In fact, we have seen poems that failed to win a prize one year be re-entered a following year to win a prize. It depends on the competition from year to year.

Our contests are not just for "professional poets"
We have been overjoyed to see at least four teenage poets win significant cash prizes in our contests during 2009–2011. While it's true that some of our winners are poets with previous publishing success, most of our winners are "everyday poets" who have never had their poetry published.

Understanding the winning poems
Poetry is not always easy to understand; in fact, some poets might be unable to "explain" their own poem. The judges at Utmost look for entries that use remarkable imagery to prompt a "feeling" in the reader. The judges also look for accessibility—the ease with which a reader can comprehend the poet's intent. In the end, judging is a compromise between the emotional communication a poem delivers and the meaning a poem delivers.

A word about "interest"
One of the criteria judges use in evaluating entries is the ability of a poem to remain interesting on second, third or tenth readings of the poem. Perhaps you know a favorite poem which continues to give you pleasure no matter how many times you read it. Judges will favor entries which provide continuing interest; the kind of poem they enjoy rereading because it has more to offer each time it is read.
      All of our winning poems are poems which the judges enjoyed rereading.

Thank you for your support of Utmost Christian Writers
Our poetry contests for Christians are just one of our many ways of providing support and encouragement for poets of Christian faith. We hope you'll return often to enjoy the many free resources made available by our organization.