You’ve written some poems, and now what? Options include sharing them with your friends, creating a book, or submitting them for publication. So how do you decide what to do with your poetry?
When you finish your poetry, you should get feedback and find a group of writers who will critique your work. As you look for groups or mentors, identify whether you write traditional or contemporary poetry. Then decide whether to create a blog, submit to journals, or self-publish your poems.
Getting your poems published is gratifying. However, submitting poetry without getting feedback from other poets and writers increases your chances of getting rejected. This article will discuss why and where to get feedback and give you some ideas for what you should do next.
Get Feedback From Writers’ Groups
If you haven’t yet found people to give you feedback on your writing, this should be a top priority. Before you send your poetry out in the world for others to read, you want to make sure that the poetry works for your intended audience.
Avoid asking friends or family for feedback unless they are poets or writers.
They might say the poetry is excellent because they want to be nice. Or, because they think you want feedback, they start looking for something that is wrong.
Instead, get feedback from fellow poets who write for the same type of audience you do. For example, if you write for social media, a literary-focused poet will give you the wrong feedback for your audience.
Here are some other writers’ groups you can find for feedback:
- In-person: Check with your library or on a site like Meet-Up for writers’ groups. If there are none in your area, consider starting one yourself. Libraries are a natural fit, and they will do publicity through newsletters. People also search Meetup daily looking for like-minded folks.
- Online: Thanks to the internet, we no longer need to be in the same physical location to receive and give feedback. Groups like Scribophile are a community of writers who give and receive feedback and critiques. You can also find groups on Facebook, Twitter’s #Writing Community, and the many subreddits on Reddit.
- Mentor or coach: Experienced writers became better because of the feedback they received, and some are willing to pay it forward and give a newcomer feedback. A good mentor not only gives you feedback, but should inspire you, be supportive of your goals, and give advice on getting published. A creative writing instructor at a local community college would be a good resource, or you can reach out to poetry bloggers.
Identify Your Poetry’s Genre
A poem’s genre is not free verse or rhyme, sonnet, or haiku. Those are forms.
The genre is what type of poetry you write. You are a contemporary poet regardless of the style of your poem because you are writing now, but contemporary poems can be grouped into three genres or types, such as:
- Traditional: Traditional poetry used traditional forms such as sonnets. Although not all traditional poetry rhymes, it fits into a form and uses meter.
- Modern: Modern poetry relies on other techniques such as line length and line breaks to achieve rhythm. Post-modern is sometimes used to refer to self-referential poetry and focuses on the poet, reader, or cultural context.
- Contemporary: Contemporary refers to poets who write both traditional and modern poetry. It’s written in free verse, short, uses accessible language, and focuses on images that connect to the reader’s senses.
Most contemporary poets fall into two groups. Some poets want to return to writing in traditional forms by using rhyme, fixed forms, and meter. The other group of poets writes poetry that is not traditional, but not anything-goes post-modern.
There is no right or wrong with how you choose to write.
However, it is wise to find poets who write in a similar style to yours. Poets tend to focus on one group or another, and a poet who writes in a contemporary style will struggle to critique traditional poems, and vice versa.
Create a Blog
Blogging is the modern equivalent of self-published chapbooks, which can reach more people than a self-published pocket-sized book. Starting a blog is not difficult, but you will need to promote your blog to reach a wider audience.
Starting a blog is not as complicated as you might think, but it does require planning.
To start, you need to pick a blogging platform. Over half of the internet runs on WordPress, and you can build your blog for free. You can put as much work into your blog as you wish. For example, some poets use the site to post their poems. A few poets put in more work and monetize their blogs through affiliate programs or ad programs like WordAds.
To get people to read your blog, you need to read theirs.
Doing this on WordPress is easy with its Reader feature, as you can follow poets, read their posts, and make meaningful comments.
Over time readers and writers will follow your blog and comment on your writing.
Submit Your Poetry
The only way to get an acceptance letter is to submit your poems.
Unfortunately, submitting poetry is a frustrating process. You must find appropriate poetry journals, follow their submission guidelines, and face the fact that all writers, even well-known ones, face rejection.
You can handle these inevitable rejections better if you understand the submission process.
Reviewers always receive more poems than they can accept, which means even good poems will be rejected. Selecting poems is a labor of love since almost no reviewers get paid, so it might be months before you hear whether your submission was accepted.
Don’t take rejections personally. It just means that your poems haven’t found a home yet. They just need to find the home that is right for them.
It’s great to submit to the best journals from the outset. While submitting to top-tier publications like Poetry, also submit to journals that publish new and unpublished poets.
Here are some journals organised by ‘difficulty’ – of course there are lots of considerations that make this assessment complex – such as the fact that your style might naturally be a great fit for somewhere like The New Yorker! Submit everywhere and see where you land.
|Journals for New Poets||Competitive Publications||The Top-Tier|
|Thrush Poetry Journal||Palette Poetry||Poetry Magazine|
|Ghost City Review||Rattle||The New Yorker|
|Rising Phoenix Review||Wildness Journal||The Kenyon Review|
|Eunoia Review||Frontier Poetry||Ploughshares|
|Barren Magazine||Split Lip Mag||Harvard Review|
|FreezeRay||Southeast Review||Lit Hub|
Some journals ask for a submissions review fee, while others ask you to subscribe to the magazine. If money is tight, before submitting to journals that charge a fee, look at one or two issues to determine if your poems would find a home there.
If you are unsure about the magazine, consider consulting Poets & Writers Literary Magazines Guide. Most reputable journals get their publication listed in the guide.
Another option is to self-publish, either an ebook or a physical copy. However, before you go this route, you should ask yourself a couple of questions. Are you willing to invest the time and money needed to create the book? And how will you market it?
Here are the answers to those questions:
- Money: You can get away with getting an ebook or chapbook published for as little as $100, but you get what you pay for. On the other hand, one could easily spend several thousand dollars on a high-quality book.
- Sales: Most poetry collections sell a few hundred copies at most. Poetry books have never sold in high quantities, so this is not a reflection of the death of poetry. It’s just that people can find poetry in many other formats.
- Marketing: To get decent sales, you will have to find ways to market your books. You can do that online, put ads in magazines, and attend poetry festivals.
This is not to say don’t self-publish, but be realistic in the outcome.
Not many get rich from poetry, but poetry is about more than money. Instead, poetry aims to touch people emotionally in a way that other written art forms usually take more words to achieve. Having the ability to write a poem that comforts someone, makes them feel good, or gives them ideas to think about is priceless.