The origin story of the Poetry Olympics is not as simple as the premise. I’ve been writing poetry for 31 years and through those years never in my life had I ever experienced writer’s block. I had no idea how crippling and debilitating it could be to be surrounded by self-doubt. Emotions transmute themselves to a freshly opened box of Kleenex that houses a pile of used tissues absorbed with tears. A pain so immense it genuinely renders you incapable of even moving forward. One day, I spoke to my good friend Tony who in his own right is an accomplished Singer/Songwriter. I told him those dreaded words: “I could not write anymore.” I felt so broken as though the words would never find a way to me ever again. Do you know how difficult it is to write a poem when you are creatively blocked? It has got to be one of the worst feelings ever. Do you know how hard it is, as a writer, to try something new and knowing you might fail? Tony suggested a bunch of activities I could perform to get myself out of my funk. He knew how much I love poetry and suggested I create the Poetry Olympics. It could be an exercise not only to cure myself but, to equally inspire others who are also in a drought. It’s as though there was a magic door that opened every single possibility. The poetic forms to be explored would include but are not limited to: Abstract, Erasure, Cinquain, Katauta, Haiku, Tanka, Prose & of course, the ever-lasting Shakespearean Sonnet. I also had to think about prizes. I mean, what kind of Olympics would it be without prizes? I was frightened, really. All I really wanted to do was ask those independent writers who would be participating in book donations to serve as prizes. But at this point, I really had nothing left to lose; the worst thing that could happen was for someone to say no.
“This is one of the most original and highly exciting ideas I have heard of in many years, I am sure it will be a great success and grow to become an important avenue for new works of poetry to find a wider audience.”Tony Moore
At first, all I wanted for the event was eBooks but then, some writers approached me saying that they would rather donate printed books. With my committee at my back, we decided to give printed books to those who would receive the gold classification for that day and eBooks to the silver & bronze winners. I made a deal with all the writers who wanted to mail their books out that even though this is an international event no one will have to ship outside of their home countries, which in turn means that no one will end up paying a ton in shipping. There are so many contributors I could not possibly list them all. But, let me say this the caliber of independent writers is beyond my wildest dreams. It’s quite inspirational if you think about it. And now, almost three years later we have started to accept spoken verse pieces as prizes. It’s such a personal touch to hear the author\’s voice connect with the words. It brings them to another level, to connect not only to the words but also the voice of the source of that particular piece of poetry.
Rania M M Watts, Founder Poetry Olympics
*Poetry Olympics shut down after the 2020 Summer games, there will be a forthcoming event in August 2021. Stay tuned!