Recently, I came across a reference to The Poetry Ark and, intrigued, searched its site on the Web. What I found is a creative approach to creating and publishing a collection of poetry. That approach is competitive and requires the public's participation. It's a bit like Dancing with the Stars, except that a group of poetry editors makes the first cuts that are presented for the public's vote.
The brainchild of editor-in-chief William Keens, Poetry Ark is described as "a one-year experiment in generating public interest and participation in the submission, selection and recognition of outstanding poems by living poets writing in English."
Conducted entirely online, the venture works as follows: Poets, the publishers holding the copyrights to poets' work, and non-copyright holders register to submit or nominate a poem or poems. Any poem, whether self- or commercially published or unpublished, may be submitted or nominated, provided the poet is alive and writing in English. Each submission or nomination is electronic-only. There is no submission fee, no limit on the number of poems that a poet or publisher may submit, and no restriction on length.
Poetry Ark editors review each submission and, if necessary, as in the case of a nominated poem, obtain permission to present for a vote any poem selected for a competition. The poem, if selected, is uploaded and enters a two-week Current Round. The Ark began accepting submissions January 1. It will continue to accept submissions, on a rolling basis, through October 15.
Each Current Round offers for the public's reading and vote 20 poems selected by the Ark's editors from submissions or nominations. Registered readers may vote for as many poems in each round as they like. Throughout the year, the four top vote-getters from each Current Round advance to a single Qualifying Round, which will be held this fall. Each round is "a clean slate", meaning points do not move forward as a poem advances; this ensures, Poetry Ark says, that all poems in a particular round may be judged as equitably as possible.
Poems in any round that do not receive the public's approval are consigned to Previous Rounds, where information on their score and status is maintained. The Ark also maintains a searchable archive of all poems submitted and voted on to date, including those in Current and Previous Rounds.
The Qualifying Round, which will open for voting on November 11, will feature the poems with the most votes from all of the rounds. The top 100 vote-getters in the Qualifying Round will be published in the Poetry Ark Anthology. In addition, they all will advance to the Prize Round. Again, readers will help select the prize winners. The voting in the Prize Round is to begin December 3. The first-place winning poem will receive $1,000; the second-place winner, $500; and the third-place winner, $250. The author of every poem that qualifies for the anthology will receive a complimentary copy of the published collection.
The Ark held its first Current Round from January 18 to February 1; its second, from January 28 to February 11; its third, from February 11 to February 25. It is now in its fourth Current Round, voting for which closes March 9. Voting for Current Round 5 ends March 14.
Complete submission guidelines are here. Additional information is available via the Ark's FAQs.
Information about William Keens, who is a poet but ineligible for the Ark's competition, and Brian Lemond of Brooklyn Digital Foundry, who worked with Keens to create the Ark's structure, is on the About page.
The Ark's Website is intuitive and easy-to-use. Every page provides the opportunity to register, submit a poem, vote, or nominate a poem.
This is a unique opportunity to have a say in the publication of a volume of poetry. I encourage anyone who reads or writes poetry to register. Your vote counts!