Writer’s Toolbox

Ask The Writer

Your most pressing and perplexing questions about writing answered here by Gotham teacher Brandi Reissenweber.

Can a published poem be entered in a poetry contest put on by a journal other than the one it was published in?

Each contest has its own unique guidelines, including what you can and cannot submit. Guidelines tend to state explicitly whether the contest accepts poems that have already been published. In rare cases, guidelines will distinguish between “kinds” of publication and which they will accept, if any. For those that don’t, you can assume your work has been published if it has been distributed to the public—in a journal, magazine, or newspaper, or on a website or blog. Always read and follow guidelines to ensure that your entry isn’t disqualified.

In general, you’ll find many (but not all) contest guidelines stipulate that they will only consider unpublished poems. Often, contests want to honor work that hasn’t already been recognized. Winning poems may also be published and journals want to give their readers new material.

You can certainly submit your previously published poem when you come across contests that accept such entries. Otherwise, give your other poems a chance to shine.