The Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) is currently holding its seventh annual sonnet contest. Winners will receive cash prizes, and the public is encouraged to submit their sonnets.
“I’m actually writing a sonnet right now,” said contest organizer Ted Haaland, husband of the late Maria W. Faust, for whom the contest is named.
For Haaland and the GRSF, the contest is a great opportunity for anyone who likes writing sonnets and poetry, or anyone who is interested in giving sonnets a try. There are prizes totaling $1,200 for Best Overall, Best Youth (17 and under), Laureate’s Choices, and Local Area (Winona and adjacent counties) – Adult and Youth categories.
“There seems to be growing interest in the writing of sonnets,” Haaland said, and he appears to be right. In 2012, the contest received 85 sonnet submissions from 35 people, in contrast to 264 sonnet submissions from 110 people in 2013, when the contest was advertised nationally.
“There were three times the number of submissions in 2013 than in 2012,” Haaland said, proudly. “And I hope something similar happens this year,” he added.
The Sonnet Contest started in 2008, an idea of Jim Armstrong, who served as Winona Poet Laureate. It has grown to include international submissions and has included the work of several recognized poets throughout its seven years, including former Winona Poet Laureate Ken McCullough and current Poet Laureate Emilio DeGrazia.
“It’s a great way to support a tie-in with the Great River Shakespeare Festival,” Haaland said of the contest. The sonnets will be read when the winners are announced on August 2.
For Haaland, the sonnet contest means more than sharing awareness of one of his favorite pastimes. It’s a tribute to his late wife, Maria, who died in 2011 and who enjoyed sonnets and poetry throughout her life.
“I would like to see people respond and see the contest grow, of course, because I sponsor it in memory of my wife,” he said.
The Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest is open to the public, and sonnets may be written in Shakespearean, Petrarchan, Spenserian, or Non-Traditional form. The entry fee is $5.00, which covers up to three sonnets. A check may be made out to Ted Haaland, with a memo of “Maria W. Faust Fund,” and mailed to GRSF Maria W. Faust Sonnet contest, c/o Emilio DeGrazia, 211 West Wabasha Street, Winona, MN 55987. Submissions will not be returned. Please include an informational sheet with your name, address, email, phone number, names of sonnets, age, and how you heard about the contest. Do not print your name on your sonnet. Entries must be postmarked no later than July 1, 2014.