Last month, I had the pleasure of winning an award for my poetry.
This was one of those scenarios where they hadn’t told me which award I’d won in advance. Sort of like in the movies, where you know who you are rooting for, but the winners are going to get named with the runners-up first, then third place, then second, etc. and it’s very edge-of-your-seat. I have never been through that before. Though I was honored to be invited as an awardee, I struggled wondering which award I’d won when I considered my competition. About two years ago, I submitted a poem to this contest but came in as a runner-up.
The adult category awards were last, so the ceremony started with the middle school category. And, wow. Those kids are talented. Really, my only complaint was that some of them read too quickly, so I didn’t get to savor their amazing writing. Since it was about an hour’s worth of poetry reading including the high school and young adult categories, I was soaking it all in. Having been through an MFA program myself, and having been to so many readings and events (and not enough since!), I savor that platform, that experience of hearing the writer’s words from their own mouths.
Well, I didn’t start feeling nervous until we got to the adult category. I was sure at least I wasn’t a runner-up, I knew how that went. But even after the first runner-up was named, my heart started beating a little faster. More runners-up were announced… We moved on to third place… And I was shocked that I wasn’t walking up to the podium. Then, second place… And again, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been called up.
There was a moment of doubt. I knew absolutely there had been some error. How would I get first place? There was only one name left to call…
And it was mine. It’s still a shock to me, weeks later, that I won first place. My friend speculated it was the voice of my poem (second-person point of view) that helped it stand out.
The funny part is that I’ve helped to judge a contest before. Writing is such a subjective business. I know this. Every submission I’ve ever sent into the world has taught me this.
That makes it even better when I get to say I won. 😉
People have asked how I found out about the contest. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a flyer in a library asking for submissions two years ago. Each year, the submissions must be based on a different theme. But I was up for just that kind of challenge.
Lessons of the day: You never know where you’ll find a submission opportunity! And you’ll definitely never know how it could turn out unless you try.