For years, I’ve submitted to contests, fully aware of how serendipitous the results may be. Hope, however, springs eternal, and I’ve had success over the years, even as competition increases. Recently, I’ve been involved on the judging side of a number of poetry contests, both for adults and also for young people. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be asked to read and engage in such work, but also an eye-opener. My process has been to begin by reading the submitted works, just to have a sense of the works and read for enjoyment. Following that, I read again and separate the submissions into three groups: yes, maybe, no. I usually end up with more in the ‘yes’ pile than there are awards (generally, awards include 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 1-2 Honorable Mentions). I re-read the ‘yes’ and ‘maybe’ piles to cull further and I write notes about each piece at this point. I keep reading and culling as many times as it takes to winnow down to a final decision, knowing that no matter how hard I try, I cannot achieve full objectivity, but at least having clear reasons for my choices. The process has taught me how much time and effort goes into the judging process and has given me a new respect for the process when I submit to contests myself.