[Jan 2012 Edit: This post refers to Poetry.com pre-2009 when it was owned by New Catalyst Fund. The site has since been sold and I’ve been told is heading in a new direction under new owners and management.]

The most successful scams are the ones that appeal to your emotions. They assure you that you can be better off than you currently are. Success, fame and fortune is just a click away. Odds are you will be clicking away some of your money while receiving nothing in return. Poetry.com is no different.

The Scam Behind Poetry.com

Poetry.com allows you to submit your own poetic material for consideration in their international poetry competition. In order to enter the contest, you have to also include your name and address. Within days of submitting your poem, you will receive a letter in the mail praising you and your poetic ability.

Now to an unpublished author or someone looking to get started in this line of work, receiving a response is quite an accomplishment in itself, but to receive a response not only praising you for your work but naming you one of the best authors to ever submit a poem is extremely flattering. The letter will also inform you that you have been chosen by a select panel of judges to be published in the next volume of poems put out by Poetry.com.

This is where the upsell begins as it all goes downhill. In order for your work to be published, you have to purchase the book. This isn’t stated, but it is indeed true. Naturally, if you’re an aspiring writer, you’ll want to purchase a copy of your first published work. Hell, you might end up buying a copy for your parents, significant other, friends, etc. The only thing is, the book costs anywhere between $50 and $75 or more if you want your poem on a single page. After some time you will be given the option to buy a CD that includes your poem in a reading and you’ll even be invited to a convention where you’ll be awarded with some cheesy trophy or plaque. Again, this is all at your expense.

This probably doesn’t sound all that bad right? Wrong. It’s terrible. Poetry.com only sells these books to the people who submit the poems for their inclusion. The books aren’t sold anywhere else in the world. Anyone could write anything at all and Poetry.com will hail them as the next Shakespeare. Previously, 20/20 did a news report where they had a class full of second graders write poems for the site. Every single poem was accepted by their judges.

Poetry.com is making between 50-60 of these books per year with about 6,000 poems in each. Given that the book costs about $75, they are making over $22,000,000 per year on book sales alone! They give away one annual prize of $10,000 per year or about 0.0004% of their annual book sales. These guys are disgustingly cruel.

Fun with Poetry.com

Just to prove my point, I submitted this lovely piece entitled ‘Bird.’ It is a Steve original and I fully expect to win the $10,000 contest prize.

A bird sits on a windowsill.
Howl goes the wolf.
The bird flies away.
A pie replaces the bird.
The wolf steals the pie.
Pie wolf and bird meet in the woods.
Pie is had. All is good. The world is happy.

Immediately upon submitting my poem I was hit with an upsell. I could have my lovely poem engraved on a beautiful plaque for just $39 plus shipping! What a steal. I didn’t want to jump the gun and get this bad boy engraved right off the bat. I want to wait until it wins the $10,000 prize.

Since I chose not to purchase the plaque, the only other available option was to view “Special Offers” that were personally chosen for me. Of course, this was all garbage as they were trying to collect my personal information to sell to companies. Continuing past the special offers leads you back to the main page. There is no substance behind Poetry.com. The site exists to gather as much of your personal information as possible in order to try and sell you garbage.

I’m anxiously awaiting my acceptance letter. I’ll be sure to post it as soon as I receive it.

Last Updated: January 30, 2012

Join the Discussion

  • Yeshi Gemaneh
    Yeshi Gemaneh

    Wow! It is hard to believe that, Poetry.com started with convincing and attracted me with their approaches as a true communicators. As amateur poet, I submitted countless poems. Over the years I went through many things life could offer and all that and life long experiences all that was expressed in poetic way and submitted to Poetry.com, and they used for their benefit? That is very disappointing not getting any recognition, it seems all my effort is gone with astray. I will leave it to justice.

  • India

    I received a plaque years ago with my name, the name of my prom and a letter attached saying that my poem was copy written so no one could steal it. Crazy thing is I’ve been coming to this website since 2002 and I can not find my poem nor me as being author of the poem. I wrote forbidden love in 1999. Posted to this site in I believe 2000-2001. Where is my poem??

  • Alicia

    It happen to me too. I send money that what the man told me to do. I waiting for the book it took a whole year to finally get the book I pay $75.00 for the book and send more money I forgot what it was for than he said he own my poem that I can’t publish my poem to a different company. It’s my poem I don’t give a fuck it’s my poem from my heart. I can’t believe that I had to buy my book.

  • antalas

    Hi, a certain Howard Ely stole my money too, I was waiting for my poem to be published by poetry.com, I called and sent emails, nobody answered, I sent a written letter and was returned within 2 weeks: address not found. I was always careful, but this time they got my skin, please if you read this do not give your money before u get the product.

  • Gail

    When I was 11 I wrote a poem for this site and back then I didn’t have my own email of course, so I submitted it under my mom’s email and nothing ever happened so I forgot about it. Two days ago I was looking at my mom’s email b/c I was trying to find a library notice or something and I found an email from this from like 2011 saying that I had won. I knew immediately that it was a scam, so I laughed at the fact that some dumb poem I had written had won something. Then I realized that I could access the poem I had written. It’s ridiculous that they won’t let you read your own work and I’m outraged at this scam!

  • Jacques

    They also prey on songwriters now. http://www.songoftheyear.com http://www.songoftheyear.net does the same scam. The winners songs are far from what record labels and music publishers would take on board while they might sound ok to the amateur listeners. Everyone wins the top 50 being promised to be marketed on CD’s sent to record labels and music publishers. I actually do what they promise but obviously the CD’s are either laughed at when received by the professionals and simply thrown into the trash. But there don’t seem to be a law to stop them scammers because they do what they say, but you are being fooled.

  • Grace

    I was scammed back when I was 12 too. When they kept sending me letters urging me to buy CDs and seminar places (this was after I’d already paid for a book too!) even I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

    I recently found my poems online, without my permission! Thankfully, if you register and log in, you can find historical poems, and click ‘This is my original work – Claim this Poem’ or ‘This is my original work and I would like it removed from the database.’ The scary thing is, you can probably claim a complete stranger’s poem from the database too…

  • Derek

    I submitted something years ago that I put myself into. They sent me an email telling me I didn’t win, but to enter for the following month. Makes me sad I can’t retrieve that shit.

  • island.reign

    I too was scammed many years ago…I live in The Bahamas and I felt like I broke some sort of record! Lol! I thought that they were helping me copyright my poetry….it’s sad…If I had the money, I would have bought the book…and the mug….and the magnet….and…..sigh

  • IG

    Oh thats nothing folks, I submitted a poem back in 2002 (when I was just 18 and had poetry flowing through my veins), when I was still living in India, and you won’t believe it – they invited me to attend their annual symposium in Washington DC, stating that my poem had made it right into the semi-finals. Being poor as I was, I couldn’t really afford the trip to DC, I asked them if they could sponsor my trip to the US. Never heard from them, and it’s only much later that I realized that I had almost been had. So, I guess, I’d never really know if my poem was any good :)

  • Joey

    So the funny thing about this scam is that me and my buddy turned in a poem at the exact same time. We bought two of the same books (but one in his name and one in my name) that they were said to have our poetry inside since we were supposedly published and copywritten. My book had my poem inside on one page. On the same exact page of my friends book, his poem was inside. But my poem wasn’t even in his book. So what they do is print a page with your poem to make it look like your cool and your published but your really not because nobody else is going to see that page. It’s pretty sad. I feel sorry for the dummies that buy into that bs.

  • Richard

    Yup, got me too. I really want my poem back. Any ideas?


    :( I bought a hard cover copy with a gold plate with my name engraved on the front book protector…. A YEAR AGO.
    It has never arrived.

  • cindy

    I can’t get access to my work either. It has been on poetry.com for years. I tried entering my email, which they should recognize and it isn’t working. I see some real legal issues with works disappearing.

    Does anyone know why the new site won’t let you access your old works.

  • alina noval
    alina noval


  • amanda

    well maybe I am just gullable because I just tried to get on that website to print out all of the poems I have submitted in the past few years. I feel like an idiot because I decided that since my poems were going to be in a book..that I no longer needed to keep the original copy…now I just realized I lost all of those poems I wrote. I would love to find the jerks who made that website…they would get an ear full!!!

  • laura

    I suspected most of this when I submitted a poem years ago. But I still wonder, is there really a 10,000 dollar prize? And if so, how is it assigned?

  • Bluerabbit

    You can delete them, actually. All you have to do is click on “revise”, then type something like,
    “This is not a poem
    I have decided
    to withdraw
    my work.”
    It will disappear soon.

  • Sarah

    I fell pray to this abot 3 hours ago. I then went “omg too good to be true” AFTER I submitted. I just worry about my pretty poem. I still own it right? I won’t be buying a book of crappy poems or anything else for that matter. >_>

  • Sid

    there is no way to delete your poems too!!

  • Lime

    That’s actually one of the better poems I’ve read recently.

    Curse my pretentious-poetry-writing friends!

    Yeah, that’s pretty much all I have to add at the moment, except now I can also warn them about this site.

  • Raine

    Unfortunately, I fell victim to this site. They sent me a letters about my poem for inclusion in their book, the cd, (similar to what you mentioned here)and they even sent me a very bad “certificate” of Editor’s Choice Award with words overlapping each other. Sheesh.

  • Joe Gelb
    Joe Gelb

    I was wondering if you could check out my website and tell me if it is a scam like this or not. My site is an online social community for business networking.

  • Kat

    Wow, these people have been around forever. Sadly, I have to admit, I’ve fallen victim to this scam. I remember submitting a poem to their website and then getting an email stating how wonderful my poem was. I told my Mother about it and she purchased one of the books.

    I’ve looked through the book… and admittedly, most of the poems are pretty bad. I got emails from them for a while, but I haven’t received anything in a few years.

    I actually thought these guys were legit, until one of my friends had sent in a poem and got the same result. He was telling everyone how he won. I thought it was pretty bad. >;)

    • Yeshi Gemaneh
      Yeshi Gemaneh

      I feel the same way. No justice? How could that happen? They were not legally, with a big name and countless participants. I don’t get it.

  • Kathy

    They do the same kind of scam with photographers, they hit you up to submit a photograph and try to sell you the finished work in a published book, of course it costs plenty, and of course you would need additional copies to give to family and friends. So photographers beware…..

  • Jessie

    These guys have been around for years. I’m surprised that they aren’t out of business yet. My mother had sent one of my poems to them back when I was about 13 or so. Wow…that was still the 90s when she did that. I think she might even had tried to buy one of their books but nothing ever arrived.

    I suggest we find their office if they have one and go stand outside with torches and pitchforks. :D

  • Halina

    Hi Steve,

    I previously wrote an article about poetry.com and picture.com, in my Associated Content article http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/915171/wouldbe_photographers_and_poets_please.html?cat=15

    These sites are just big ol’ scams, like you mentioned. And that ABC 20/20 expose was the clincher- if a 2nd grader is capable of being a “talented” poet, then you know something ain’t right here.

    I still keep getting e-mails about my prize-winning poem and my great photo, which I long-ago submitted to these sites just for fun. What a crock. Thanks for warning us!

  • Patricia

    Thanks for doing this investigation .I sent a poem years ago and got the same treatment .I did not fall for any of it and bought nothing.But I did beleive them untill to many people I knew got the same treatment.Then I got angry and dent in the stupidest poem ever.No mistaken this was an awful poemI even put a foul word in it. I got the same great praise for that one too. Thats when I knew for Sure .I felt like they were trying to make a fool of me. So Thanks for making this public and maybe people will not send them poems again.

  • Kandy

    Hey Steve,

    I had a little fun with this site myself. I also submitted a silly poem. It was kinda cute though. I took it to work and told everybody I was a published author and everything. Of course, I knew it was just a scam from the start. I never bought any of their books or plaques. They sent me offers for about a year, then it finally stopped. Still, I kept the letters with my poem printed in them. Maybe I’ll frame one of them one of these days just for kicks, haha!!

  • Joe

    A Steve original. HA! That’s classic. I have seen this book. Not only is it expensive, but it is one of the crappiest, shoddiest books I have ever seen. It looks like the poems were copied and pasted (the old fashioned way) onto 8×11 paper, photocopied, and glued together. The one piece of layout work they did was to make all the poems in Courier font.

    And no joke, the poems are almost all as bad as Steve’s.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *