Poetry Contest with Billy Collins

So I put the mouthpiece to my lips
and blow into it with all my living breath.
We are all so foolish,
my long bebop solo begins by saying,
so damn foolish
we have become beautiful without even knowing it.
-BILLY COLLINS, “Nightclub”


Figdies and Figlemen, the Bard has entered the building. Billy Collins, America’s most famous and well-loved living poet, is joining Figment for a poetry contest.

(It was very difficult for me not to end the previous two sentences with an exclamation point! I’m trying to sound cool, calm, and collected in the presence of greatness.)

Here’s your challenge. Write a poem of 40 or fewer lines, with this as the first line: “I want to play in a band with a crazy name”

How To Enter:
1. Sign up for an account of Figment (it’s free)
2. Create something new
3. Write your entry and press “Publish Now”
4. On the “Details” page, put CollinsContest in “Tags”
5. Wait the 2 hours or so it takes for you entry to appear BELOW.

The deadline is Sunday, 7/3 at 9pm EST. Then you have the power to determine the top entries by hearting your favorites; the top 10 hearted will go to Billy Collins, who will judge the winner. The voting period will end at 6:00PM EST on July 10, 2011. The winner will receive a signed copy of Horoscopes for the Dead, his most recent poetry collection. And, of course, the right to brag to everyone you know that BILLY COLLINS loved your poem. Good luck, everyone!

1. One entry per person, please.
2. The promotion of your contest entry is not allowed on Figment. This includes self-promotion and the promotion of other users’ contest entries in the Figment forums, the comments and reviews of stories, and the Figment Facebook page. Independent promotion on sites unrelated to Figment, like personal Facebook or Twitter accounts, is fine.
3. Works must be submitted according to the instructions above between the announcement of the contest and the closure of the contest. Entries created before the start date or after the end date will not be included in the pages of contest entries and will be ineligible to win. This means a new book must be created for the contest; adapting an old work published before the start of the contest will make the entry ineligible to win.
4. The rules of the contest are both strict and open to interpretation by a moderator.
5. The creation of multiple accounts to heart or otherwise vote for your contest entry on Figment is prohibited, and may result in the disqualification of that entry, the deletion of your Figment account, and/or the blocking of your IP address permanently from the site, at the moderator’s discretion.

36 thoughts on “Poetry Contest with Billy Collins

  1. The theme is sort of comedic, so is that what you are wanting people to go for? I’m not saying that people can’t make it more serious but did you have the prompt with a comedic poem in mind?

  2. the poems are due on my birthday! Sorry, I just thought that was kind of cool. I think I’ll enter this.

    • Hey Emma-
      Yup! Hearts received before the voting period still count. The voting period is just the time where you can no longer submit entries, before the entries are judged. It is not the only time for votes to be received. Let me know if you have any other questions- esteele at figment.com

  3. I love poetry, and I love the concept, but the first line doesn’t have any sort of rhythm that I can work with. So sadly, I will not participate. I wish the first line were just a few less syllables.

  4. When you say 40 lines do you mean it has to be 40 lines, or do you mean 40 lines or less? And once you have published for the contest can you go back and fix anything? Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Kauri

      It can be exactly 40 lines or less, but cannot go over that limit. Also, you are able to edit your entry until the deadline. Once the deadline is passed, you are no longer able to edit it. Feel free to email me at Maria@Figment.com if you have any other questions.

  5. Does the given line have to be together for example can it be “I want to play/ in a band with a crazy name.”

  6. I checked my poem to see if it was posted correctly this morning and compared it to the one on my page, the one on my page has 1 more heart… Do people have to come to this page to have their vote count?

    • Hi Mariah

      They don’t necessarily have to come to your page to vote, but it may take the system a little bit to catch up with the hearts. The correct number should be displayed soon. Feel free to email me at Maria@Figment.com if you have any other questions. Best of luck!

  7. Could we break up the first line into two lines? So it would look like:

    I want to play in a band
    with a crazy name

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