so you deicde to compete. One way to get recognition and practice standing up in front of a group reading your work, and occasionally to earn some decent money, is the poetry competition. Poet's Market lists many. The Internet is another resource.
My single most important piece of advice is to Follow the Submission Rules. Read the description carefully before you jot down anything to submit. Many of these contests will summarily disqualify anybody who does not take the time (show the respect) to read everything the organization has to say about their contest. Remeber, they are earning their money through entry fees and getting exposure for their contest sponsor so the application committees take this very seriously. If you included a sase it may come back to you without your ever having been considered...simply because you did not enclose the correct fee or did not double space, did not check your line limit, etc.
Check the demographic. If you are new to the competition world, perhaps it is not a good idea to put yourself in a contest where you go up against all the poets under the age of 32 in the United States....whereas, for example, if you live in NY state and are 40, there is a contest for NY state residents over the age of 40. This reduces the number of people you have to compete against, thus some folks would say improves your odds. You vs. 300 others rather than you vs. 1000 others.