This poetry contest is sponsored by 501c3 nonprofit The Fitzgerald Museum, which operates out of the last extant house the Fitzgeralds lived in as a family during their lives.
Before he became a famous novelist, before he met the intrepid Zelda Sayre, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a poetic lyricist writing for Princeton University’s Triangle Club. It was his failure to get his poems published in magazines that led him to give up writing poetry and turn to novels.
To mark Fitzgerald’s humble beginnings in poetry, the Museum hosts an annual Poetry Contest. CASH PRIZES in the $100s of dollars are awarded to the top three poems in the following categories: High School, College, and Other. Specific prize amounts are yet to be determined.
I wondered how and why this poetry contest came to be, so I asked museum director Will Thompson a few questions to find out. See my interview with Thompson and a link to their contest guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about The Fitzgerald Museum.
THOMPSON: The Fitzgerald Museum operates out of the last extant house the Fitzgeralds lived in as a family during their lives. Construction of the home was completed c. 1910, and the Fitzgeralds lived here from the fall of 1931 through the spring of 1932. In the late ’30s, the home was divided into a boarding house, and remained such until 1986 when it was saved from demolition by local residents Julian and Leslie McPhillips.
HOPKINSON: How/why did this poetry contest come to be?
THOMPSON: The Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Contest began in 2013 when one of our most ardent volunteers (who asks to remain anonymous), brought the idea to me in hopes that the contest would compliment our annual Short Story Contest. The volunteer had seen books in our research library that contained the poems of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and she subsequently learned that Fitzgerald’s first passion was poetry. Being an accomplished poet, the volunteer offered to put up substantial cash prizes for the contest–all that was left after that was to draw up the guidelines.
HOPKINSON: What type of poems are you looking for; is there a theme?
THOMPSON: The guidelines stipulate that submissions must capture “any aspect of Scott and Zelda’s lives, works, passions, ambitions, desires, failures, etc.” Basically, when you’re dealing with Scott and Zelda, they had their artistic fingers in so many pies and their lives ran such an amazing gamut from high and mighty to meek and lowly that we felt we needed to just blow off the doors and say, “Here are Scott and Zelda, poets. Have at it.”
HOPKINSON: Who are some of your favorite poets?
THOMPSON: Personally, I’m a Romantic pastorlist when it comes to poetry. Yeats–especially his early stuff. I could eat Wordsworth from sun-up to sun-down. And I like the poetry of modern songwriters, arguably Romantics themselves, like Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, and Andrew Bird.
HOPKINSON: Where can poets send submissions?
THOMPSON: Poems must include the cover page posted on our website (http://www.thefitzgeraldmuseum.org/contests2.html), and must be received prior to 11:59 p.m. on November 11.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
THOMPSON: For more information about the contest, email email@example.com.
DEADLINE: November 11, 2016
ENTRY FEE: None
PRIZES: CASH PRIZES in the $100s of dollars are awarded to the top three poems in the following categories: High School, College, and Other. Specific prize amounts are yet to be determined.
NOTES: Subject matter must capture some aspect of Scott and Zelda’s lives, works, passions, ambitions, desires, failures. . .etc.
Categories: Contests (No Entry Fee)