Project Verse Drama!?!

You are missing out if you’re not reading the comments on the Project Verse entries.

Contestant Martin Ott has recently raised questions from his fellow Project Verse contestants when he posted this comment:

My Dolly poem was accepted for the November issue of Two Review the first time I sent it out (and they get 7000 submissions per issue). Kind of takes the sting out of being on the bottom twice last week.

Contestants want to know if Martin has violated any rules.

When each contestant applied to Project Verse, he/she agreed to the Rules/Regulations/All That Jazz. Two of those items are:
 By participating in Project Verse, you agree to acknowledge Project Verse as first publisher in future reprints of books, anthologies, website publications, podcasts, radio, etc. Copyright reverts back to authors upon appearance in the Project Verse competition, which takes place on the I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin site.
 While the copyright reverts back to the author upon appearance in the Project Verse competition, Dustin Brookshire in combination with Project Verse and I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin, reserve the right to use any poems from the competition to create an anthology in the future.

If Martin acknowledged Project Verse as the first publisher to the Two Review editors, he didn’t break any rules.

BUT, did this happen?

40 responses to “Project Verse Drama!?!

  1. Dustin — I don't think this makes sense. Pardon me if I speek freely —

    The Dolly assignment wasn't given to us until last Sunday night, July 5th.

    I don't feel it is believable that Martin would have written the Dolly poem, submitted it to a journal, AND had that poem accepted by that journal in just over one week.

    This thing smells to high heaven.

    All Martin has to do to get out of dutch is say "Yeah, I told them about Project Verse" and its over.

    This isn't fair. As a participant in the contest, I want some answers from Martin.

    You don't get to sit around here all day, trash Project Verse and its judges, talk smack about how great of a poet you are, and get away with cheating like this.

    Clear the air, Martin.

  2. So I've talked to some poet friends, and a couple of them said that Two Review has a "relatively" quick turnaround, whatever that means. Opinions are split.

    But even if Martin did somehow write a poem, submit it, and have it accepted inside of a week, I seriously doubt he gave Project Verse credit for first publication, considering this blurb from Two Review's submissions page — "we very rarely accept previously published poems".

    I'm lucky to be a part of Project Verse, and I think its shameful to try and publish the PV poems in other venues THE SAME WEEK they're posted at PV. What editor would want it? It doesn't make any sense.

  3. I don't particularly care about whether Captain Fancy Pants lied or what have you, although I think it's kind of absurd. I just think he's ridiculous. I said this earlier on Facebook, but he reminds me of that girl from Texas on America's Next Top Model who chose to leave the competition rather than compromise her 'beliefs'– i.e., she wouldn't cut her hair.

  4. Emily, that's not quite fair. The man's book has been nominated for four awards this year! Let's all just step down and give him the grand prize. It's what he deserves.

  5. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, its "American poetry's" fault that he keeps losing week after week, not his own.

    American poetry! Get your ass in here and apologize!

  6. Wow, not sure what the big deal is…

    Sunday night sent out a few poems to a magazine I just heard about and added the Dolly poem as a lark…got the acceptance Monday morning at which point I forwarded the email to Dustin asking him about attribution. He kindly sent me the rules and I immediately shot the editor of Two Review a note about Project verse and the need for attribution.

    I'd be glad to forward the string to anyone who wants…have also explained to Dustin exactly what happened.

    Not sure why I am being called a liar or why Dustin put up this dramatic post when I immediately looped him in and promised I would attribute project verse.

    Only thing I will apologize for is being overly sensitive and talking about my own credits – it does make me sound like a bit of an ass…but thought that debate on poetics was a valuable part of this contest.

  7. Martin– I wrote this post because multiple contestants and a couple of the judges took an interest in this turn of events. I think it is only fair to give it attention. I mean, Project Verse is patterned after Project Runway….. this sort of stuff would make it on the TV.

    I think that's all I have to say on the matter.

  8. I can explain my side of the anger over this whole thing.

    Publishing a poem crafted for this competition THE DAY AFTER you wrote it is really odd. If you wanted to participate in a workshop, there's plenty of them. That's not what this is.

    I can't figure out why you'd want to publish a poem in another venue while it is being judged at this one. As a former editor (albeit of a small journal) I find poets who want to publish their work in multiple venues to be self centered and probably a lot misguided about the goal of creating poetry. You're basically telling Dustin that his project isn't a good enough home for your little masterpiece. Come to think of it — why would any self respecting journal publish a poem that had been written THAT NIGHT, and was already being posted (for free to all comers) to a poetry blog? The whole thing makes no sense.

    That is to say I don't think most of us do this to get our books nominated for prizes. At least not primarily.

    It is good to know where you're coming from, however. I like to know what kind of sharks I'm swimming with. I wish you the best in your pursuit of greatness.

  9. W.F.

    You might want to take a couple deep breaths – editors often tell me what they like and don't like in submissions and I shelve or edit poems based on their feedback just like I have edited based on this contest feedback – I honestly forgot the rules on attribution.

    I may be neurotic and sensitive as a writer but I haven't called people sharks, liars or captain fancy pants (my favorite)

  10. Hmmm, what have we learned? Some wiseguy tries to prove the judges wrong, contestants turn on each other with very little provocation and the producer twists something small to dramatic effect – sounds like reality tv to me.

    We might actually make poetry relevant yet!

  11. Martin's poem had not yet been judged by Project Verse judges when he sent it to Two Review. It was thus still under evaluation for inclusion in Dustin and Emma's collection of 50 poems paying tribute to Dolly Parton.

    What if Martin had won the week's challenge? He knew that winning would include publication in the tribute collection. It doesn't seem right to send the piece out for consideration elsewhere under those circumstances.

  12. Dana, not sure if the judges want me to quit at this point. I sent my poem out AFTER it was judged Sunday and got a response Monday morning…and showed Dustin the timing on it…

  13. It's one thing when a contestant calls you a liar which W.F. did; it's another when a judge does.

    I don't think I can get a fair review from a judge after she states a falsehood about me on a blog, and highly doubt I'll be submitting my next poem (which I have a draft of) for Dana's consideration.

  14. As an outside observer of this situation I thought I'd offer my 2 cents.

    First of all this competition has been really fun to watch (or read I guess) and this bit of drama does show us that even as poets we are not above the typical bickering and mud slinging of reality TV. I say this as a positive (for the most part).

    Second I want to say that I thought Martin's poem was the best of the week and was surprised when I saw the results.

    But the idea that it was already accepted at a magazine does raise some questions about the intentions of the poet and his over all methods. I've had a few poem accepted as quickly as he describes, so I don't find that too shocking. It is rare but it does happen.

    The part that confuses me the most is that a poet would send out a poem he just wrote for publication, other than in a competition like this. Maybe I am in the minority here but I don't think I've ever sent out poems to a magazine that I haven't worked on for at least a month or two if not longer.

    This is partly what makes this competition interesting because of the tight schedule and quick turn-around time.

    In the end I'm always suspicious of how villains are created and normally want to see it from the other side. I think Martin's actions are odd to me because I don't work that way and wouldn't have chosen to do that. I would write the poems for the competition only and then see what happens with them after it's over.

    On the other hand I've enjoyed Martin's work and hopes he will stay in the competition.

  15. Well, now I'm just plain curious– is Dana saying she had yet to see the poem at the time he claims to have sent it out? I plan on writing a Nancy Drew themed poem about this, btw…

  16. Wait, also– don't quit, Martin… um, I mean, Captain Fancy Pants!! The fun is just getting under way! If you're really a fan of Project Runway, then you've got to, at least on some level, be enjoying this, right??

  17. Having taken many deep breaths and a nice warm shower, as well as a sturdy eight hours of sleep, I stand slightly corrected but still very confused.

    Martin — I apologize for inferring that you are a liar. Having said that, the proof of the pudding, as we all know, is in the tasting.

    I'm not the only one confused about your intent. I ask again — why would you submit a poem written for a contest to another journal — before the judges had a chance to read that poem, before anyone had a chance to look at it besides Dustin (and really, I'm not sure WHEN Dustin actually reads the poems), and before you knew if you'd won the week, or the entire contest for that matter?

    Something still smells quite rotten.

    But no one wants you to quit. I don't think anyone has asked you to quit. You're a worthy competitor, and you have talent, and your quitting wouldn't do anything except remove your chance at winning.

    But I think we all still want to know. Why? Why would you submit an unjudged PV poem to a journal? What is the benefit for yourself, Project Verse, or the journal you submitted to?

  18. W.F., the poem was ALREADY JUDGED and online when I sent it, and I was trying to prove a point about the judging (whether I did is open to debate). I also forgot about the rules – I guess I view this more as a blog.

    What I did prove is that I'm a bit of a blowhard and that Two Review sometimes responds quickly to work they like.

    I'd like to apologize to Jeremy, the managing editor of Two Review, who will now be publishing one of my poems but no longer the one that first appeared here.

  19. Handbags at dawn!!!

    My advice to ALL poets is never write something one day and submit it the next. It's usually months before I submit a poem anywhere. The moment I write something, I might think it's the best damn poem I've ever written, but putting it aside for a few days and coming back to it for revision always highlights it wasn't as good as I thought it was in first draft form.

    Don't be in such a hurry to submit, either. Take time and hone the work, make it the best it can be at that moment. I'm of the mindset that a poem is never really finished.

  20. Jeez Martin, its not like you wrote a bad poem. In fact, you got some solid responses to your poem. I believe the words "beautiful" and "great job" were used, among others. So what exactly were you trying to "prove about the judging"?

  21. Wait, I just read Martin's wharrgarbl again.

    Is he saying that he's not going to submit a poem because Dana expressed concern about his submission to Two Review?

    I say good fucking riddance.

    I've really had it with his self serving bullshit. If he isn't trashing Project Verse or the judges, he's talking about what a stellar poet he is.

    Martin, as my Italian grandmother would say, Vaffanculo a Lei, la sua moglie, e' la sua madre.

  22. W.F.,

    It is my right to believe the following:

    – poetry judges should have more experience than contestants
    – poetry judges should not state flasehoods about contestants as facts

    I have already called myself an ass and blowhard, and my friends and family are having fun joining in and beating me up too – truth is I overreacted to being in the bottom, and not agreeing much with the judges.

    I don't really care about winning this – I like the entertainment factor and would much rather talk about poetic style or if poems need titles.

    Captain Fancy Pants may have to stay in to see swearing in Latin and new rhyming nicknames.

  23. "Poetry judges should have more experience than contestants"

    Wrong. This is not your contest. You don't pick the judges. Besides, how could this *rule* of yours possibly be put into practice? You expect Dustin to look at the "experience" of the contestants then somehow pick judges that have more than the contestants, etc . . . that doesn't make sense. Besides, I have a hard time believing that you're really the great poet you say you are. (Here's where you trot out your old nonsense about having your book nominated for prizes, etc. Whoopty doo. You're getting your ass kicked in this competition, at least once by me — a poet who doesn't even have a book.)

    This is just more of your egotistical nonsense. If you're such an amazing poet, what are you doing slumming it up with us peons? You are completely disgusting.

  24. Couple things that surprise me here:

    1. That anyone takes being published on a random blog this seriously; and

    2. Apparently there is actually at least one "viewer" out there that isn't a competitor (thanks, Stephen, for weighing in)

    W.F., you need to breathe some more…maybe go write a poem and stop trying to be the judge of everyone else and how they conduct their own submissions.

    BTW, I am happy to take a swipe at the judges' qualifications — they seem woefully light to me. How about a role-reversal week where they submit to a challenge and everyone else judges? Or is it a case of "those who can't do judge others?"

  25. Michele,

    Thanks for your input.

    My temper is nothing new to me. I'm comfortable with my flaws.

    The same can't be said for Martin. We have had to listen to his constant braggadocio, to how good of a poet he is, to how little our judges know versus how much he knows. After a little while, it gets really old.

    As for everyone attacking the judges — how is this your role? The judges were selected by the person who is RUNNING THE CONTEST. And spending a TON of his personal time running said contest. Speaking of "those who can't do" — I don't see you participating. Is this a case of "those who can't participate sit on the sidelines and toss insults"? Cuz it sure feels like it.

    No — no matter what anyone says, I'm not going to lighten up on Martin. I've had enough of his attitude, his self righteousness, and his constant critique of judges.

    Do you think for ONE SECOND that if Martin was doing better in the contest he would still be criticizing? Of course not. As for me telling 'everyone else' how to conduct their submissions, I'm not. I'm telling Martin.

    I'm not sure how much YOU YOURSELF know about poetry, but writing a poem and submitting it to a journal one week later is not good practice. Its lazy, and it does the journal you're submitting to a disservice.

    Sell your snake oil somewhere else. I'm not buying.

  26. My apologies, W.F. I thought that you and the other poets wanted readers other than yourselves. As I am a fiction writer, I am not in the contest, but thought I was still invited to read the work and comment.

    And, frankly, if the editor of the publication liked the poem and wanted to publish it who are you, or anyone else, to say otherwise?

  27. Whoa Nelly, everybody MELLOW. I only have one thing to say in response to all this hoo-ha: can the judge bashing. Dustin, as stated above, created this competition and he goes out of his way FOR FREE every week to make it happen. It's great fun for all involved, and for that we should all thank him. He chose the judges and every competitor agreed to adhere to the rules; those rules included Dustin's first rights to the work from the competition and that the judges decisions are binding. I don't know who Michele is, but she seems to miss the point that we're all players in a game, and the rules are part of what make games fun. As for calling this a 'no-name blog', I'm sure your blog is visited daily by everyone from Robert Pinsky to Margaret Atwood, and that's great– we're really, really stoked for you. But we like this competition and its no-name blog, which you are clearly so disinterested in, you took the time to visit it, read like, three dozen comments, and make your own statement.

    Lay off the judges credentials. We like them just fine.

  28. Michele,

    We have other readers. I happen to know this. And you're more than welcome to participate and read. If you notice, I thanked you for your input. Just because I appreciate you contributing doesn't mean I have to like what you said. And the same goes for you.

    If the editor of Two Review liked the poem and wanted to publish it, fine. But there's more to it than that. Martin has a talent. He could have used that talent to improve the poem — given more than seven days chance, the poem could have been something spectacular.

    I'm not the only poet that feels this way. One of our guest judges posted a similar statement above. And since you are a writer, you understand. Revision is the key to writing. Poets who dash off a poem and pretend it is finished are simply misguided.

    There's another side to this. We all agreed to participate in this contest, and it seems like our concentration should be the contest. And when I question Martin's intent in publishing the Dolly poem at Two Review, I'm not incorrect. Martin himself admitted he published the poem with a dark motive — to prove something about the judges in this contest.

    Do you think that's fair to anyone? The judges who are giving their time for free? Dustin, who is working his ass off running this contest? Martin's fellow contestants?

    There's nothing wrong with me getting fed up with his chatter and behavior and commenting on it, especially when he freely admits to submitting the poem to Two Review to make a comment about the contest.

    If he has such a problem with PV, he should do us all a favor and get the hell out.

  29. I will say this "no-name" blog has featured items from Robert Pinsky, Mary Jo Bang, Denise Duhamel, Dorianne Laux, Kurt Brown, and many more. That is via the WHY DO I WRITE SERIES, which the great Alice Fulton told me she was going to require as a reading assignment for one of her classes.

    That's all I have to say about that.


  30. Martin, if the judges are so unqualified, why participate at all?

    You've never answered this question.

    Maybe we should all take a class from you. Would we learn how to write a single draft of a poem and have it published within a week? Would we learn to toot our own horns until they're raw? Would we learn how to be so above it all?

    Cuz I'd really like to be just like you when I grow up.

  31. Borges' advice for writers – the advice he got from his own father – still seems hard to beat: "Read a lot, write a lot, and don't rush into print."

    Yes, people other than the contestants and judges are reading the poems.

    As for the qualifications of judges, for our first chapbook contest at qarrtsiluni we went out of our way to find a judge who was NOT from the hothouse world of poetry, but was still a broadly educated and well-read fan of poetry with demonstrably good literary taste (the creative nonfiction writer and editor Dinty Moore) because we figured that's the sort of audience we're trying to reach. The Dolly Parton challenge here was interesting in part because of the addition of a judges whose expertise was in Dolliana rather than in poetry. (Perhaps for the Shore Tags section you might've included a marine biologist?) I'm sick of the cult of the expert and would like to see more room in the modern poetry scene for the inspired amateur, or even for the dilletante. Professionalism is, above all, boring.

  32. Wow… who would have known that this level of drama could be unleashed from PV? I certainly did not see it coming And it all stemmed from a Dolly Parton poem? I think she would get a kick out of that.

    I was joking around with my hubby the other day because there was a Law & Order episode about passionate poets killing each other, and I told him I thought that was overreaching. Maybe not. πŸ™‚

    Thank you guys all for your writing and participation. I think that it is the best free entertainment (and reading) I've had in quite awhile. πŸ™‚

    But hey… don't pick on the judges.

    a peon poet who was too scared and uncredentialed to try to compete

  33. I won't comment on my own qualifications as a judge (I know a thing or two), but to suggest that Beth Gylys, Dana Guthrie and Matthew Hittinger's qualifications are "woefully light" is absolutely absurd. Someone needs to do a little more research or perhaps stick with fiction. Personally, I don't care how many books you've published or how many prizes you've won, if the work isn't up to snuff, then it gets a fail. Project Verse is not about resting on your laurels, but rather stepping up to the plate each week and proving your worthy to go forward.

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