Sycamore & Ivy Fall 2016 Poetry Contest

Ivy League logo4thSyc logo squareFourth & Sycamore and The Ivy League are pleased to announce the Sycamore & Ivy Fall 2016 Poetry Contest. The Ivy League is a fresh flower boutique run by Katie Gabbard. Katie takes natural materials and turns them into what can only be described as one-off works of organic art, which, come to think of it, is a great way to describe a poem.  We’re thrilled to partner with Katie and The Ivy League on a poetry contest that combines the ephemeral beauty of artisan floral arrangements with the emotional and intellectual resonance of great writing.

Here’s how the contest will work: Poets in two categories–high schoolers from Darke County (Ohio) and adults from anywhere in the United States–will each send us a single poem based on a theme offered later in this announcement. A panel of judges will evaluate these poems and pick a winner and a runner-up in each category. Both the winners and runners-up will receive prizes, and will be published on Fourth & Sycamore. Katie will then design an original floral arrangement inspired by the winning poem in each category. This arrangement will be sold at The Ivy League for a period of time, and part of the proceeds will be donated to the Friends of the Library for the purpose of purchasing poetry books for Greenville Public Library (home of Fourth & Sycamore).

We will be accepting submissions for the contest beginning Thursday, September 15 till midnight on Tuesday, November 15. All submissions will be read and evaluated, and a winner will be announced Thursday, December 15.

Here are the rules and details for the contest:

Your poem must somehow relate to the contest’s theme. The theme for the Fall 2016 contest is “falling.” You are free to interpret that theme in whatever way you wish. We want creativity, so you can make the connection as tangential as necessary, so long as the poem relates to the theme in some way. It is not at all necessary to use the word “falling” in your poem.

Poems can be written in any format or structure you choose. Due to the linguistic strengths of our judges and readers, all poems must be in English.

Poems can be no longer than 30 printed lines (stanza breaks do not count as lines). Poems that exceed this limit will be immediately disqualified. There is no minimum length.

Save your poem in .doc or .docx file format and attach it to an email to fourthsycamore (at) gmail dot com. In the subject line of your email, put “[Last Name] Fall 2016 [age group]” (for example, “Smith Fall 2016 Adult” or “Lopez Fall 2016 High School”). In the body of your email, please give us your full name and mailing address. Please also tell us a little bit about yourself. This does not need to be a formal cover letter, just enough information so we know a little about the poet behind what we’re reading. If you wish, you may offer a brief introduction to your poem, but this is not necessary.

Poems will be judged on a very loose rubric that will largely come down to how well your poem interacts with the stated theme of “falling” and the subjective answer to the question: Did we like this poem? We encourage you to be as creative and personal as you wish to be. Judging will not be based on any formal poetry guidelines. Send us something good.

Winners and runners-up will be contacted privately and then announced publicly the same day. Here are the prizes for the contest:

Winners (in both categories):
– $75 (in form of Visa gift card)
– Publication in Fourth & Sycamore
– An arrangement inspired by your poem will be created by The Ivy League, and a lovingly printed copy of your poem will be included in each arrangement sold

Runners-up (in both categories):
– $25 (in form of Visa gift card)
– Publication in Fourth & Sycamore

Below are the judges for the Fall 2016 contest:

David Nilsen is the editor-in-chief of Fourth & Sycamore and an employee of the Greenville Public Library. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, and writes regular reviews for Fourth & Sycamore and The Collagist. His writing has appeared on Open Letters Monthly, Bright Wall Dark Room, Rain Taxi, the National Book Critics Circle Critical Mass blog, Punchnel’s, and many others. He lives in Greenville, Ohio.

Matt Birt was born and raised in Greenville, Ohio, but currently resides near Tampa, Florida. He has a master’s degree in English from Miami University in Ohio, and taught English for nearly a decade at Greenville High School. He served for a time as the editor-in-chief of The Samizdat journal, for which he also regularly wrote. He is currently drinking bourbon in his office while perfecting the craft of fiction.

Daniel A. Olivas is the author of seven books, including the award-winning novel The Book of Want (University of Arizona Press, 2011) and Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews (San Diego State University Press, 2014). He is also the editor of the landmark anthology, Latinos in Lotusland (Bilingual Press, 2008), which brings together 60 years of Los Angeles fiction by Latino/a writers. His writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Fourth & Sycamore, PANK, Prairie Schooner, Fairy Tale Review, Exquisite CorpseNew Madrid, Superstition ReviewPembroke, and many other literary journals. He has also written for The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Jewish Journal, El Paso Times, High Country News, Los Angeles Review of Books, and La Bloga. He earned his degree in English literature from Stanford University, and a law degree from UCLA. Most recently, he is the co-editor of Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles (Tia Chucha Press, 2016). He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Katie Gabbard is the owner of the The Ivy League fresh flower boutique. In addition to her stunning floral arrangements and interior design consultation, she is a gifted visual artist across a variety of mediums. She runs The Display Case blog, and teaches and speaks about design. She has written for Fourth & Sycamore. She lives near Lakengren, Ohio.

We look forward to reading the poems you come up with for this contest!