Poetry.Com Was A Scam And Many Fell For It

Years ago I had submitted my poetry to a site called poetry.com, which was run by The International Library of Poetry aka International Society of Poets. I submitted my poetry to their contests and allowed them to publish my poetry in their anthologies and also in a CD, which was a great sense of accomplishment for me. I wanted to share my experiences with poetry.com - both the good and the bad.

Questioning Poetry.com
Questioning Poetry.com | Source

To Win The Poetry Contest Poets Had To Attend A Weekend Symposium

Poetry.com ran a poetry contest, without having poets pay a fee to enter. I was thrilled about that and had submitted some of my poems to their contests (at different time periods). I was super excited when I received letters in the mail letting me know my poems were chosen as finalists. I had a real shot of winning a poetry contest and even earning some good money too and on more than one occasion. How great was that?

Well, the thought was great and I even pictured myself getting up on that stage as I was declared the winner and handed my award; but as I continued to read further into the letter I came back to reality and my excitement quickly faded because I found out that to actually have a shot of winning the contest I had to attend their weekend symposium, for which I had to lash out hundreds upon hundreds of dollars (I think it was close to a thousand actually, if not more) both for the hotel stay, the symposium and the round trip airline tickets for which I had to pay out of my own pocket.

No way was I going to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a two day convention. It was just ridiculous. So, my poems never won, while they could have been potential winners. I was disappointed but I would have been more disappointed had I emptied my wallet to go to the symposium and lost.

I should not have to fork over a lot of money or have to attend some symposium to be eligible to win a poetry contest. That is just not right. And it seems like a scam to get poor souls to empty their wallets in hopes to achieve some sort of poetic fame, that probably isn't even worth anything.

While I didn't fall for their trick to get people to hand over their precious money many poets did. And this wasn't the only trick poetry.com powers that be had up their sleeves.

Have you ever attended the poetry.com symposiums?

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Poets Could Commemorate Their Poetic Achievements In a Plaque At a Cost

Like many poets, I was offered to commemorate my achievements in a plaque, or a medal, which I could proudly wear around my neck or hang on a wall. That was exciting for me, except for that to happen I had to fork over a good amount of money. No way was I going to do that. I should't have to spend money (no matter how little or big the amount is) to get an award, whether it's a plaque or a medal or anything else. Awards should be earned and given out, not bought. If poets have to spend money to get an award, did they really earn it? Do the people giving the award actually think these poets are worthy of it? Probably not.

Poets Had To Fork Over Lots Of Money To Get The Anthology and the CD They Were Featured In

Poetry.com, run by the International Society of Poets, asked amateur poets to submit poetry to their website or to the contest and then sent them letters saying they wanted to publish their poetry in an anthology. Poets had to look over their proof of the poem and sent it back with their initials, giving poetry.com permission to publish the poem in the anthology.

Poets were told they didn't need to buy the book to be in the anthology but if they wanted a copy of the book they had to pay close to sixty bucks for the book (that's with shipping included). It didn't matter how many pages the books were; they all cost the same. Granted it was a hardcover book and there was a page decoration inside the book, that was in color rather than in black & white, but it should not cost that much money to buy the book. Books should be reasonably priced. And if books cannot be reasonably priced, at least authors should be given some sort of discount since without the poets' poetry these anthologies would not even exist.

Perhaps they were charging so much for the books because poets were the only ones who'd be buying them since the anthologies did not have ISBNs and bar codes and hence would not be sold at major retailers. But the reasons don't matter. The point is that they shouldn't be charging that much for a book. It is just not right. Makes me wonder how much they actually made from the sale of each book; probably a lot.

Besides having their poems featured in an anthology poets could also have their poems featured on a CD, if they granted permission for their work to be used. Once again though, if they wanted to get the CD their poems were in they would have to fork over a lot of money. As if I had any doubt about that.

Many poets fell for all this and actually forked over so much money to purchase the poetry book and the CD they were featured in. I fell for this too. I mean what poet would not want to own a poetry anthology that he or she is a part of?

While I never bought the CD, though I allowed my poems to be featured there, I did get three of the anthologies I was featured in. One anthology was the International Who's Who in Poetry and the other two were just regular anthologies. Thankfully, I was smart enough to stop at three books, otherwise I'd have spent way more than $180 since there were many more anthologies my poems were featured in.

Of course poetry.com people didn't stop there. They also send letters to other poets under a different name Noble House Publishing asking them to submit their poem for an anthology they were publishing. I got those letters too. Again, poets didn't need to buy the book to have their poems featured, however, if they wanted to own the book they'd have to buy it. They'd have to pay about the same price as the poetry.com books. Since I received these letters too, I allowed them to publish a few of my poems in their anthologies but I did not buy the books. They had enough of my money already.

Poetry.com or rather the company that ran the site was a scam for sure. I hope that I didn't do myself any harm allowing them to publish my poetry in their anthologies and for submitting my poems to their website. Thankfully, I was able to find the poetry I had published on their website in the archives and get it removed. I remain in the physical anthologies though, assuming they still exist. Who knows what they did with my poetry without my permission and what they do with it today now that poetry.com is run and owned by someone else?

Did you ever submit your poem to a poetry.com anthology?

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Did you ever buy a poetry.com anthology your poetry was featured in?

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© 2015 Lena Kovadlo

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12 comments

lovebuglena profile image

lovebuglena 17 months ago from Staten Island, NY Author

Mihnea Andreescu, thanks for leaving your thoughts on this post. I think it is important that poets know this information. Many poets who want to see their name in print will sadly fall for this kind of thing and submit their poem to an anthology and then lash out the big bucks to get it. Authors shouldn't have to pay so much for their books. They should either get them for free or at an author discount. If it wasn't for us poets submitting our stuff to the anthologies there wouldn't be any in existence. And as far as these gatherings go... Poets shouldn't have to be required to attend them in order to win a contest. That's also a scheme to make money off of these poets who want to be in the spotlight.


Mihnea Andreescu profile image

Mihnea Andreescu 17 months ago from Bucharest,Romania

Never knew about this scam but thank you for raising awareness.It's good when the poet community offers quality information!


Molly Layton profile image

Molly Layton 18 months ago from Alberta

Update: According to the Writer Beware blog and Trademarkia, Poetry.com is owned by Newton Rhymes, LLC, who I can find exactly no information about. Sorry for double posting.


Molly Layton profile image

Molly Layton 18 months ago from Alberta

It's a shame people continually try to scam creative types out of hard-earned money to do something that should be free (or at least discounted). I'd never heard of poetry.com before. Out of curiosity, I went to take a gander at their website. It looks incredibly unprofessional.

I also tried to find out if it was still run by the The International Library of Poetry / International Poetry Society. The FAQ said it was "under new management" and the only name I could find was "Janet". That was in an e-mail address.

Thanks for letting the world know about their practices.


lovebuglena profile image

lovebuglena 20 months ago from Staten Island, NY Author

With poetry.com poets didn't need to actually buy the book to be featured in it. I've submitted my poetry to a few other places/"publishers" and there you HAD to buy the book to be featured in it. I would have bought the book anyway (who wouldn't want to buy the book they are featured in?) so that is why I went along with it but that is just wrong. Poets shouldn't have to buy the book they are featured in. They should either be published for free or be paid to have their poems used in the book. If anything, they should be given the book for free because if it isn't for the poets submitting their work these "publishers" wouldn't even have books to publish. I guess the reason they had us buy the book is because that was the only way they'd make money. But it doesn't matter to me. Poets shouldn't be required to buy anything or pay anything to get published.


lovebuglena profile image

lovebuglena 20 months ago from Staten Island, NY Author

I bought three poetry.com anthologies that I was featured in. In all three anthologies my poem was the first one featured out of everyone's. I was very thrilled about that. Out of everyone who submitted their poetry mine was the first one in each book. It got me thinking... why am I the first one and not someone else? Do they really think my poems are the best out of all of them? Or do they do it in such a way that whoever orders the anthology their poem will be the first one in the book? Like if say Bob orders an anthology his poem will be first and if I order it mine will be first? That seems like too much work to rearrange the poetry in the book so that each poet who buys the book has his/her poem featured first. But having mine always be first seems too good to be true now that I think about it. I wonder if my poem was first in the anthologies that I never bought.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 21 months ago from Riga, Latvia

I always steer clear of poetry sites that require me to purchase things and are not just interested in my poetry. However before the Internet arrived I did have one poem put in a plaque for which of course I paid a fee and I have about three poem in different anthologies. That was the time when it was the only way to get others to read my poetry. Now with the Internet it's completely different and I even have a poetry blog so I steer clear of all scam sites.


NateB11 profile image

NateB11 22 months ago from California, United States of America

I disagree with that assessment of Hubpages, Storytellersrus. Hubpages has a quality assessment process for articles; those articles that don't pass the assessment process are not visible to search engines. Writers are rewarded for getting traffic which requires them to understand what is being searched for on the Internet and writing high quality articles; both of these factors keep articles featured and visible to search engines. That process is much different from poetry dot com's process accepting all writing basically for the viewing of a group of writers for an anthology produced by a company that is selling them books and events.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 22 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

Not what you expected maybe, but a scam wasn't what I got from it. Poetry.com was hosting poetry contest long before it came online. I did by one of the anthologies my poem was in. These are big hard cover books full of poetry. Books of this kind are expensive. I don't feel I was scammed at all. I entered several poems there that appeared in the online site and were likely in other books I chose not to buy.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 22 months ago from Stepping past clutter

I disagree. Poetry.com is a vanity publishing site. It services fledgling and amateur poets by publishing our ridiculous poetry and encouraging us to keep writing because they believe our poetry will improve and we will win their prizes.

After several years writing horrific poetry at hubpages as well as at poetry.com, I began to figure things out and won a third place prize at poetry.com --without ever attending the conference mentioned above.

Yes, I bought their books. This opened my eyes to how bad my fellow poets actually were- I read the other poems contained within and realized what a huge ego I had, thinking my poems were any better than the awful ones published there.

But I was grateful for the experience. Because even though my work was far from quality writing, the fact that someone out there was actually reading my work, i.e., paying attention, kept me writing.

I hate to tell you that HubPages works the same way. But perhaps you have already figured this out.


NateB11 profile image

NateB11 22 months ago from California, United States of America

Believe it or not, Poetry dot com has been around a long time, long before the Internet; of course, in the old days they had a different name because they weren't using the Internet, so no dot com. It was way back then, probably the early 90s, that I submitted my poetry to them; and, yes, they said, Oh I'm a finalist, you can come to the event and put your poem on a plaque, plus buy the book; all for a hefty price. Like you I bought the book but not the other things.

Basically, they tell everyone their poetry is good, put it in the book and get you to fork out money. It's a weird stroking of egos and selling trash.

If you had your poems in their books from way back in the old days, they ended up putting your poems on their site.

Anyway, yeah I know about those guys, definitely scammers. This is one reason I just write poetry for fun, I definitely don't try to make money off of it.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Lena, thanks for sharing this bad experience. If poetry.com is still operating it is a good warning for others to steer clear. It is hard enough for poetry to be accepted for publication so I know many poets would be suckered in by thoughts that their poems had been accepted. I have had one poem and one short story accepted for publication in anthologies. For the story I was paid $50 as well as having my website promoted and a free copy of the anthology. I can also buy additional eBook copies at $4.99 if I want or hard copies being released soon for under $20. Poetry.com is obviously a scam site, as I've heard many poetry contest sites are. At first I entered a few that had entry/reading fees for each poem, now I only enter free competitions. Voted up.

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    lovebuglena profile image

    Lena Kovadlo (lovebuglena)295 Followers
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    Lena Kovadlo is a writer for various content sharing websites. She's an author of 9 books and helps other authors publish their books.



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