Sometimes things work out in favor of your arguments. The May/Jun 2011 issue of Poets & Writers magazine ran an article on the demographics of literary contests, and I couldn't be more pleased to discover that I wasn't barking up the wrong tree in my last post.
Many who read this post may subscribe to P&W, but I'll knock down a few of the most salient points.
The article contained an interview/discussion with several poets. Among their comments:
- MFA students often screen stories for the primary judge(s).
- Sometimes judges select stories by persons they know.
- Contest fees go to prizes and advertising, with little left over.
- Judges take minor fees.
Then there are the pie charts given:
- Female winners outnumber male winners by a ratio of about 3:2
- 2/3 of contest winners are poets, fiction 1/5
- Almost 90% of winners are MFA, MA, or PhD grads.
- Winners by territory are about evenly divided across the U.S.
- About 80% of winners are white (non-Hispanic)
Clearly, these data indicate the literary playing field loaded toward academia and the sub-genre MFA-style writing, or by those with academic training.
Not that that indicates malfeasance. I'm just saying….