The National Library of Poetry

When I was in high school I came across an ad for a poetry contest in a magazine. I entered it with a decent poem called "Desktop Art" (read it here if you're curious). They responded with a flowery letter of praise, saying they wished to publish my poem in an upcoming anthology, and that I could buy the book if I wished to for a special *discounted* price. The fact that they were trying to sell me something right off and the fact that the whole letter read sort of like an advertisement made warning bells go off in my head. Regardless, I signed the author's release and let them have my poem.

They replied with yet another ad for the book, claiming it made a "great gift," and an author's proof to make sure everything was the way I wanted it. They also asked my permission to record my poem onto a tape called "The Sound of Poetry," saying only certain poems that lent themselves to being read aloud were chosen for this collection. I agreed to let them do that too, but I never ordered any of the books, the tapes, or paid for having any of my biographical information added to the poem. I never heard about the book again--never actually saw a copy.

Years down the road I heard about another poetry contest, and since I didn't know it was a contest sponsored by THEM, I entered it. (Internet research was not what it is now at the time, obviously. The Web was just getting started.) They replied with the same sorts of mail I remembered from my high school days. They're still at it, trying to get my money, I thought. I had to wonder if it was legit, because the poem I sent them really wasn't that great, and certainly wasn't worth all the praise they spilled all over it. It was again selected for "The Sound of Poetry," and this time I did not send in my release, because I had no desire to be published by them; had my doubts about whether what they did even counted as publishing. They bugged me with poetry junk mail for a while, telling me they couldn't publish my poem without my release, oh no, what a loss to the world . . . but I didn't send it. End of that.

Then I was invited by e-mail to enter another contest. It had a website address that DIDN'T say anything about National Library of Poetry, but it ended up being them, and I got tricked into entering. I decided not to back out because it was supposedly supported by Montel Williams (that's a story I hadn't seen in the previous ones) and he was giving money to a good cause for every entry, something like that, so I figured what the hell. They sent me junk mail again. I wouldn't sign the release this time either.

Then they sent me some invitation to a poetry ball or something, with all the entrants being invited to come compete for a prize and be honored and all this other shit, asking for positively a *buttload* of money for the trip. Yeah, right. Like my poem is worth that. I didn't fall for it.

What pisses me off about the whole thing is that there *are* people falling for it, and poor idealistic poets are being told their stuff is good when they just want your money. How do I know it's not a legit contest, you ask? Maybe I'm just really good, right? Maybe I just happen to have written great poems and been selected for special honors all three times I entered, right? Wrong. I submit, for your approval, an excerpt from Letters from a Nut.

Allow me to explain. Letters from a Nut is this cool series of books by Ted L. Nancy, and they are collections of bizarre letters someone has written and sent to corporations, hotels, celebrities, what have you. He actually receives replies to a frightening number of his bizarre queries. Anyway, HE entered one of the contests for National Library of Poetry. I hope that the owners of the copyright on Letters from a Nut will forgive me for reprinting his poems to help prove my point; here is his first entry.

Their reply? The exact letter I received. Oh, Mr. Nancy, you are so talented, won't you grant us the privilege of publishing your unique poem? And we don't ask everyone this, but would you like to be on "The Sound of Poetry"? Your poem has a unique flavor that lends itself well to being read aloud . . . BLAH BLAH BLAH! What the hell? Well, on his author's proof, he decided to revise the poem. Here is his revised version, even more obvious.

Their response mail didn't give any indication that they'd noticed Mr. Nancy's poem was a complete crock. Someone had to have typed that sucker in . . . what is wrong with these people? Have they no shame? This is proof that THEY WILL PUBLISH ANYTHING as long as it is not longer than twenty lines. Such unique talent we have, we poets of the National Library of Poetry anthologies . . . such creativity, such craftsmanship . . . such bullshit! As if that wasn't enough, Mr. Nancy revised his poem one more time:

Mr. Nancy, wouldn't you love to order a special plaque with your *beautiful* poem printed on it? It'll only cost you your life's savings and your firstborn child, but isn't it worth it to have this lovely artifact displaying your poetic talent? I ASK YOU!!! Why the HELL is this legal anyway? And why am I pissed since I never fell for it? Because they're deliberately taking advantage of idealistic poets, that's why. It disgusts me. Don't get me wrong, no one is forcing these people to pay . . . they are simply led to believe that they were *chosen* because they actually did something good, and given false feelings of pride in their work, when actually no one at the National Library of Poetry gives two shits about their work, and neither does anyone else. Who *does* win the prizes, anyway? Probably the person who buys the most crap.

Don't submit anything to National Library of Poetry, International Library of Poetry,, International Society of Poets, International Poetry Hall of Fame, Watermark Press, or League of American Poets if you know what's good for you--they're all different names for the same thing. (And watch out if you're a photographer--they're getting their grubby fingers into that market too!)

Here are some connections:

Any comments left here are PUBLIC. If you are not comfortable with that, mail me directly.

Email address:

Comments from others:

Mikey: I have heard of this scam before, and it is terrible that they still can continue to bring this type of crap to a mostly unaware public.
And just for the record I don't think you need to shut up (let em have it)!!!!!!

Lisa: I agree completely with you. I've fallen for this, as did my sister-in-law. Her husband, my brother, sat us down and explained to us how they're using our 'wonderful poetry' that all the editors 'read and loved' to get our money, and that, while our poem will be in the book, it won't be in anyone elses.
Though I'm sure you knew all that anyways. *smile* You're a very intelligent person, and I commend you for making such a great homepage full of interesting things, instead of the things you normally see on peoples homepages, which are less than interesting.
I got a little off-topic. I basically just wanted to tell you that I agree with you completely and completely loathe these people as well.I don't think you should shut up, either. =)

Mar: It happened to me too in highschool.
Apperently I was first prize too, so I got fifty dollars, not a complete waste. But they bugged me about buying that book. I know a sad, sad girl who did buy it... oh well...

Candice: They still send me mail and emails telling me I've won stuff. I couldn't believe it the first time I read my mail and they wanted somewhere near $1500 (from me) to go to Orlando and to pay for my own rewards.

Mari: Wow, they tried to get me too. O.o Just how far do their sticky fingered little claws reach?

Ron Hankins: This rant will be short. My submission was accepted like everyone elses are. I knew my poem was good, but I still wasn't certain it would be published. I dedicated my poem to my wife just so I could show her that I was good enough to get published--the anthology "A Walk Through Paradise" arrived the same week she died--she never got to see it. The tape "Sounds of Poetry" was blank--even though I paid for my poem to be read. My surprise is that well known celebrities lend their names and faces to the National Library of Poetry--I sent them one other poem--one that I was even more proud of than the first--and they chopped it up because it was 22-lines. I reworked the poem, resent it, paid the price of the book, and never received a copy.
So, it is possible to make the same dumb mistake twice--however...this poet did.
Ron H.

gail: i was chosen in high school and had it published on a plaque well my daughter apperantley entered and was chosen too! i got to thinking about why i could never find the book "A BREAK IN THE CLOUDS"
so i looked them up and NOT to my surprise I found out that they are I gotta tell my daughter they are fakes...should be illeagal!!!!ecspecially since they are targeting our children who have to deal with a tough world as it stands!!!!!!!!

christy: well, i fell for it too. when i was in high school i sent in a poem which was okay. but they made it seem like it was the best thing they'd ever read. my parents paid for the plaque with my poem on it. and they wanted to buy the book but luckily i talked them out of it. i just don't understand why they want to do that to people it is so messed up. they even sent me letters inviting me to florida to read my poem for a chance to win 10000 dollars but they wanted me to pay like 1500 up front to come. i thought that sounded pretty dumb. most contests that people want you to travel for they pay the anyways i think it really sucks that they pull this crap and poor people actually fall for it, it makes my really angry!!!!!!!!!

WUGGY6X9: I have been violated by this buch of M%$##%
@#$^$%'S!!!!!!!!I sent in some poems to their contest abput 10 years ago.I did not know thier operation was a scam.When I tied to look up my poems I found only one and it is owned by some executive for corprate America it says.Not only is he got my poem but he even has my name.

Lisa R.: They trying to screw me too! I would not pay! I did find a legit contest via The Amherst Society. Can you guess it, I even have a book that I had to purchase for $30!

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