A few years ago, I came across a poetry contest on WordPress that was still in its nascent stages. It was Chelsea Owens’ Terrible Poetry Contest. I think everyone knows about it now. Winning it is like winning a Pulitzer to some, and I empathise with those people, because I felt that way once, too. I took part all those years ago, won, and couldn’t get enough. I took part in so many versions of the contest, each centering on a certain theme, and the thrill overpowered me. The joy of writing something terrible on Chelsea’s comment section inundated me with the force of a Tsunami, and that’s not hyperbole. However, now, after years in academia, and rethinking things, I believe we need to cancel Chelsea Owens.
To begin with, the terrible poetry contest is exclusivist. It prevents talented poets from posting their best work. It caters to an audience that gets its kicks out of reading something mediocre. Why can’t it be just a poetry contest or better yet, an everyone is a winner poetry contest? Which brings me to my next point. Why should only the worst poem win? Chelsea does honourable mentions, but this whole notion of one person winning is elitist to me. I think a lot of us, after working 9 to 6, want to feel that we’ve accomplished something. We already compete in our workplaces, and the whole idea of competing on WordPress seems appalling. Any contest that doesn’t make everyone a winner is redundant and stinks of an era we no longer live in.
The terrible poetry contest is also a capitalistic venture. There is no board, and we have to endure Chelsea (or a guest judge) deciding who wins and what theme to choose. I feel we need a participant’s union that votes on the themes, and a vote for yourself option given to every participant. That way, we’ll all be winners. More power to the participants!
The terrible poetry contest is also not disability friendly. Some of us can’t be terrible and funny. It’s not fair that the contest caters to those with a sparkling sense of humour who can write abominable verse. That’s the problem with contests. They always exclude a part of the population with their outrageous demands, which is why we must ban them. But that’s another discussion. I must, however, add, that a terrible poetry handout which gives anyone who writes anything under Chelsea’s posts a winner’s badge has a strange appeal.
The terrible poetry contest also marginalises and ostracises people. Over the years, people have gotten to know each other because of the contest and they’ve formed cliques. This reeks of college classroom politics and has transformed the terrible poetry contest into a VIP club where you see the same faces, and feel like someone standing outside a posh lounge bar watching all the fancy-dressed people go in.
The themes Chelsea selects appeal to the bourgeois. There are no versions of the contest revolving around the class struggle, the impending worker’s revolution, etc. The participants have no choice but to write about something very Protestant and middle class, or something that pretends like it’s for the downtrodden, but isn’t like rap music.
All this has made me realise Chelsea is a capitalist, WordPress tycoon. A person who stays in power using exclusivist, conservative practises that aren’t in line with the ideology of the masses. Please say yes to change, and more power to the participants. I believe that change is possible, but only if we aim for a new WordPress that empowers everybody by installing a fair government that allocates an equal number of followers, comments and likes to every person, and does away with contests that serve those in power.
Long live the revolution,
P.S. This post is satire and written with Chelsea’s permission. Please don’t hate me!
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