Date set for Smith’s Tavern Poet Laureate Contest

To the Editor:

The date and time for the Fifth Annual Smith’s Tavern Poet Laureate Contest has been set: Sunday, April 27, starting at 12:30 p.m. Regional poets can start tightening up the lines of their finest odes and sonnets to compete for cash prizes at the tavern.

The first-place prize comes with a $100 cash award and the honored title of Poet Laureate for the contest year. The second-place poet receives $50, and third-place honorable mention gets $25. The names of all three winners will be engraved on the Laureate statue, which sits overlooking the Poets’ Corner at the tavern.

The contest is limited to the first 20 poets to register. Registration begins at noon on Monday, March 17, via e-mail, with notification of interest to be sent to <>. If more than 20 poets register, the first 20 will be determined by time of e-mail sent.

Poets are not allowed to sign up for anyone but themselves. Notification of acceptance will be sent within days along with more detailed information about contest protocol.

Contestants compete in three rounds with poems (English only) of 25, 35, and 45 lines (or fewer) respectively. The order for each round is determined by randomization. The poems are judged on four criteria: presentation; mechanics; depth of feeling; and overall impact of the poem. 

After the first two rounds, there is a 30-minute break for lunch to give judges and contestants a breather. It is also an opportunity to enjoy music in the bar to celebrate National Poetry Month, which is April.

After the third round is completed, final scores will be tallied, the winners announced, and prizes presented by the owners of Smitty’s, John Mellen and Jon McClelland, who support the contest by use of the venue and cash prizes. 

Judges for this year’s contest are poets Susan Oringel of Guilderland, Terry Rooney of Delmar, and Ron Pavoldi of Schenectady.

Family and friends of the poets as well as community members are invited to come and support their favorite poets. Lunch and beverages are served throughout. It is a festive afternoon and the work presented is always first-rate.

The Laureate Contest is sponsored by the Sunday Four Poetry Open Mic series hosted by myself, Edie Abrams, and Michael Burke. The open mic takes place every fourth Sunday of the month (except July and August) at Old Songs Community Arts Center in Voorheesville. For more information on the open mic, see

Additional information on the tavern’s history, the contest, and the Poets’ Corner can be found at the tavern website

Dennis Sullivan

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