Internet Poetry Winners Find Out $50 Books Aren't Alike

'We Got Made Fools Of' Says Mother

A Worland woman and Thermopolis girl say they are disappointed after being nominated for "poet of the year" by poetry.com.

After submitting poems for the Web site's poetry contest, Mandi Reynolds, 12, and Maxine Delarosa received a volume entitled "Colors of Life" and a letter saying they had been nominated.

Mandi saw her poem on page three of the book.

"I was overwhelmed at first that they thought my 12-year-old daughter's poem was so good," said Elaine Reynolds, Mandi's mother.

Then Mandi compared her book with the one Delarosa received. In that copy, Delarosa's poem was also the first one in the anthology -- and Mandi's poem was nowhere to be found.

Both got documents saying they could purchase the books for $49.95. Other options included two books for $80, six books for $199, and 12 books for $369.

Contributors also have the option of including biographical information on a separate page for another $25.

Reynolds said she is especially upset after putting donation jars in Thermopolis businesses to raise money so Mandi could go to the poetry.com convention in Philadelphia on Aug. 17. After collecting about $650 in donations for the trip, she says she doesn't know what to do.

"I can't take people's money like that," she said. "But how do I give it back?"

Reynolds' mother bought three copies of the book and Reynolds bought another. Delarosa bought one copy.

"I'd like to know how many other people are finalists who aren't in our books," Reynolds said.

Both Reynolds and Mandi say they will do thorough research before entering another poetry contest. "We got made fools of," Delarosa said.

The ABC News program 20/20 did a story on poetry.com several years ago, having an entire second-grade class enter the contest on poetry.com. The program reported that every student in the class got a letter telling them they were a a semi-finalist.

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