“Mommy, I won, I won”.  Mika rushed out of her 4th grade classroom today, paper in hand, a huge smile on her face, happy and proud of herself.  She’d won a poetry contest, she told me, almost out of breath in her excitement.

I knew immediately what it was.  I had read about poetry scams years before, understood well how they work.  They ask you to submit a poem (many advertise in magazines) for a “prestigious contest”.  Some time later you’ll hear that your poem has been selected to be published – trouble is that if you inquire further, you’ll find out it will be published in a  volume only marketed to the authors of the poems and that there is almost no selectivity as to what poems are published.  Creative Communication admits publishing about half of all the poems it gets, and does not explain how the selection process works or who the “judges” are.  They sell the book for $26.40.

I was not aware that my daughter had entered this contest at school last year.  Creative Communication apparently uses teachers to get their students to submit their poems.  I am sure that my daughter’s teacher thought it was legit.

I was torn about telling Mika that her contest was a scam, but when she asked if I’d buy the book, I asked her whether she wanted me to tell her the truth about the contest.  Mika is very mature for her age and I try to be very honest with her, but she was so excited that I didn’t want to crush her.  But she wanted the truth and she got it.  She felt bad, disappointed, taken.  She even wrote about it on her new blog and e-mailed her friend to warn her.  I hate that that slimy company got to hurt my child.  It is just unconscionable to play with the feelings of such young children, exploit their emotions and profit from the naivete.  These are children, for God’s sake!  And parents, of course, many of whom probably cannot afford the overpriced volume but will feel they’re failing their children if they don’t.

If there was a hell, there would be a special place for the owners of Creative Communication and other companies of the sort.  I will, of course, inform our daughter’s teacher (principal and school district) of this scam.