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Frequently Asked Questions

When were the Dorothy Shoemaker Awards launched?
The Awards began in 1967 as a Centennial project of the Kitchener Public Library and are named for Miss Dorothy Shoemaker, the former Chief Librarian, who was an ardent supporter of aspiring writers throughout her career.

How many entries are received?
In the past we have received up to 1,500 submissions. The number of actual participants is lower, since some contestants submit more than one entry.

Is there any age restriction?
No.  All entries will be judged against each other within their respective categories.  Songs and poems that identify as under 18 will be considered for youth prizes as well as general prizes.

Is there any geographical restriction?
Yes, this contest is open to Southwestern Ontario residents only.

Are my entries judged anonymously?
Yes. All poetry and songwriting submissions are judged by their excellence, not by the author or composer’s past achievements, current fame, or relationship to anyone involved with the contest.

Are my entries judged separately from one another if I enter more than one?
Yes.

Can a contestant win more than one prize in a year?
Yes.

How many poems may I enter into the Poetry contest?
You may enter up to two (2) poems per person. Entries are accepted in date order. If more than the maximum number are submitted, the entries received first will be entered.

How many songs may I enter into the Songwriting contest?
You may enter one individual song and one group song, for a total of two (2) entries. Please note you cannot enter more than one individual song, or more than one group song. If more than the maximum number are submitted, the entries received first will be entered.

Who is considered a professional musician?
For the purpose of this contest, a professional musician is anyone who derives more than 50% of their income from their music.

Who is considered a professional writer?
For the purpose of this contest, a professional writer is anyone who derives more than 50% of their income from writing.

May I submit a paper copy?
No, we are accepting online submissions only. Poetry entries must be entered as a Word document. Songwriting entries must be entered as MP3 files.

May I include illustrations or photos with my entry?
No.

May I enter a submission written by someone who has died?
No.  Authors of all submissions must be living.

May I submit an entry for an age category that I am not currently in?
No, your work must be entered in the age category for which you are currently eligible.

May I submit my entry simultaneously to you and to other contests and publishers?
Yes.

May I submit a work that has been published elsewhere or won an award?
Yes, all such work is acceptable, provided you own the online publication rights. Work that has been entered in previous Dorothy Shoemaker Contests is also acceptable, provided you did not win a cash prize.

Will you return my entry after the contest?
No. Please keep a copy of your work.

What are the submission guidelines?
Please see the Poetry and Songwriting contest pages for full contest rules and guidelines.

How do I enter the contest?
All contest entries must be submitted online. The contest entry form will be available at kpl.org from Wednesday, December 1 to Friday, December 31.

Will I keep the copyright to my work?
Yes. You keep the copyright to your submission. If your entry wins any cash prize or honourable mention, you agree to give both the Kitchener Public Library and the Dorothy Shoemaker Literary Awards a non-exclusive license for your work to be used for publication and/or for promotional purposes. You retain all other rights. You are free, for example, to publish your work elsewhere, and to enter it into other contests, whether or not you win a prize in this contest.

Do you forward any contestant information to third parties?
No, The Kitchener Public Library does not release contest entrant information to third parties.  Information is used only to the extent necessary to contact you in relation to this contest.

Collection of information for the Dorothy Shoemaker Literary Awards is subject to the provisions of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Personal Privacy Act. The Library will not divulge this information to outside parties unless required to do so by law.

I have a question that wasn't answered here. How can I find out more?
For more information, please email the literary contest administrator at literary.contest@kpl.org.