2017 Contest Winner, G. Donald Cribbs, Speaks Out.

Updated: Jun 30, 2018

Enter 2018 Poetry In Pain Contest today for your chance to win $400.00!


1.) We have all heard about the ‘scams.’ Companies that are only out to hurt and deceive the poetry community. What made you trust Realistic Poetry International with your time, talent and money?

I have entered other online poetry contests before, and I once won $1,000 as a first-place winner for the month. I have not personally been duped by a vanity press or poetry website, and I have learned what to look for to avoid such ‘scams.’ I did look around the RPI website, and monitored the Twitter account, prior to my first submission.

2.) How do you feel about poetry contests, in general?

Well, I would say I have fared unusually well. I don’t have this huge ego. I cannot fathom the idea that I have this incredible level of talent. I consider myself blessed and fortunate thus far. Poetry contests are exciting. It’s exciting to reach readers, and to receive feedback and/or recognition for the work.

3.) What made you decide to enter your poem, “Worms in the Summer Grass,” in 2017 for the Poetry in Pain Contest?

When I saw the challenge to submit the most painful poem I have written, I thought WitSG was an absolute lock for the winning poem. Still, I was shocked when I was notified that I actually won. When I think about it, I’m still in shock.

4.) Please explain and describe the meaning behind this poem?

WitSG is a very personal poem, an #ownvoices account of my experience as a survivor of child sexual assault, or #CSA for short. The tone is juxtaposed by two very different and incongruent extremes: a family fishing at a lake, and the unspoken abuse happening in secret. A parallel is drawn between the worm baited on a hook, and the boy, assaulted in his own home. The goal for the poem was to speak the truth, and represent the voice and resiliency of the survivor, who is a victim no more.

5.) Have you entered this poem in any other poetry contests or competitions?

I have not, but it is a part of my Young Adult novel, currently out of print, The Packing House. This novel is a fictionalized version of my own survivor story and allowed me through the mediums of prose and poetry, to tell a layered story of a boy who struggles with recurring nightmares, and a past he has suppressed, coming to the surface and disrupting his life so much, he runs away at first, but ultimately faces the past and begins his healing journey in order to win the heart of the girl he is in love with.

6.) Hundreds of people entered the contest. How confident were you that your poem would be chosen as the winning poem?

I thought I had as good a chance as anyone else. My previous track record gave me the courage to take a chance and enter.

7.) How did you feel when you were announced as the 1st place winner?

It has been an honor. Truly. I’m so grateful to reach readers for my poem, and my writing. It means so much to me to be able to do something positive with something I’ve lived through which was so painful to survive. Thank you, RPI, for the amazing opportunity!

8.) How easy was it to receive your cash and prizes?

That part of the process went very smoothly, and extremely quickly. I was surprised by how effortless it was. RPI is very good with communication both before and after receiving the cash prize and the trophy and certificate as well. Again, thank you!

9.) How likely are you to participate in future poetry contests with Realistic Poetry International?

Well, I don’t want to be the only winner. I am selective with which contests I enter. However, I enjoy your contests, and I find the process fun, regardless of winning or not. I am frequently impressed with the high level of talent among other members of the RPI community. I love reading the works of my fellow poets. If it’s okay with RPI, I’d love to keep entering.

10.) How likely are you to recommend Realistic Poetry International Contests to others?

I do recommend RPI to my friends and fellow poets. I have many friends who love to write, many of whom have never entered an online contest before. I hope they give RPI a try, and grace us with their amazing poetry.

11.) What advice would you give to other poets considering submitting their poem for a chance to win?

The advice my high school teacher gave me when I first started writing poetry and worked on finding my voice as a poet is this: read great poetry. If you want to write well, you need to read what others have done before you. I have found a long list of amazing poets from all over the world, across time, and representing a diverse array of writing styles: Jellaluddin Rumi, 12th century Sufi poet, Li Bai, Chinese poet from the Tang Dynasty, Rainer Maria Rilke, German Poet, Robert Bly, translator, and prolific American poet, James Wright, Donald Hall, Mary Oliver, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Federico Garcia Lorca, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, and many more poets, just to name a few. These are the poets who shaped my poet voice. As I identified what they did well in their poems, it taught me to try free verse, rhyming verse, sonnet, haiku, ecstatic verse, and other aspects of form and function, such as alliteration, consonance, assonance, enjambment, and how to boil words down by associations to add even more layers of meaning. Essentially, each word is like a chapter in a book. I try not to waste a single word or syllable.

12.) How did your friends and family feel about you winning first place in the contest?

My friends and family were happy for me and gave me a lot of support. They also keep it real and remind me I’m a human like everyone else. They keep me humble.

13.) How can people best connect with you and find your poetry?

I have a website: www.gdonaldcribbs.com, with links to most of my social media, including my blog. A large portion of my poetry is available on RPI, the community pages. I have readings on my YouTube page. I have my contribution to Things We Haven’t Said, an anthology for survivors which has received two starred reviews, one from Kirkus, and one from Booklist. I am working on edits for my second anthology, Beating the Odds, looking at recovery from the perspective of male survivors of sexual assault, and am currently working to find a new publisher for The Packing House, and completing book two, Unpacking the Past, to complete the duology. In my spare time, I write new poetry, and am working on a midgrade series with my 13-year-old son with dragons set in a modern, contemporary world. We are planning to make this a series of approximately 12 books.

Enter 2018 Poetry In Pain Contest today for your chance to win $400.00!


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