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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Tangled Web 

Hey folks. Here's my two cents on contests, grants, etc. In my very limited experience of the world, I tend to think they aren't so much "fixed" as generally calibrated through a mix of demographic concerns and personal / professional affiliation. It tends to look like shades of grey to me, and we each decide where we fall on that scale in terms of what's offensive and what's not.

I've had people say to me, "Why do you generally publish people you know in ixnay stuff? I bet you give more preference to your friends' work." Why do I / we do that? Because I like my friends' work. Because I want to do the job of an editor : show in print the inter-relationship of all of this work that I've read and that swims in my brain, including the interplay of work from old chums vs. "new people." And because it's my money. And because the people who ask why we favor friends have mostly never read anything we've published, anyway, and are only submitting work because they found our website on a list somewhere on the internet.

It gets blurrier with public / institutional money or rewards, though, no? While potentially winning $50 via a small press chapbook contest might be one thing, competing for $50,000 from the Pew brings higher expecatiations of professionalism all around, for example, because in that case one counts on a certain level of objectivity.

So I have no actual solutions to any of this, sadly, but I thought I'd throw my "shades of grey" bit out there and see if it sticks.

Chris McC

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