When your entries arrive at the NZPS (comfortably before the cut-off date, naturally), the competition secretary enters the details (your name and address, plus the titles, first lines etc of your entries) in a database, and assigns a unique code number to each individual entry. The two copies are separated (of course, you followed all the conditions of entry), and sorted into their relevant sections: Adult Open poetry, Adult haiku, Junior Open Poetry, and Junior haiku. One batch of copies is sent to the relevant judge(s), and the rest sent to the editor.
In other words, selection, like judging, is done blind. Until the results are released, I don’t even know which of the poems I will be required to include, let alone who wrote them. (Which is part of the fun.)
When I’ve made my selections (with a couple of extras, just in case) I get the list of poets to match to the poems. Then I finalise layout, notify the poets, send out proof copies, tweak the manuscript, deliver the document to the printer, and sit back with a gin and tonic to enjoy the launch.
That’s the theory, anyway.
The reality tends to involve a lot more stress. Especially when it comes to proof stage – there’s always something that gets through. Like mis-spelling someone’s name. Not so bad? It is when she’s the doyenne of your particular field, and someone you’ve had frequent correspondence with. Or when he’s a good friend. Or someone you’ve had a spat with, but really wasn’t trying to insult. (Slightly scary when the person concerned hasn’t picked it up themselves …) No matter how carefully I’ve checked the manuscript, I know there’s going to be errors. It seems to be built-in to the basic fabric of the enterprise. I suspect that time and space as we know it would unravel otherwise.
One of the really neat things is coming across new poets. People who you haven’t read before. There always seems to be at least one new face, or one new to me at least. Quite often there have been tow or three poems that I really liked, and which turn out to be from the same author. And it’s a lot of fun trying to guess who wrote poem X. Especially when you turn out to be completely wrong …