The Importance of Setting Poetry Goals

This is probably a long overdue follow-up to Nancy’s “Published is Published” post from 6/27/07, but late is better than never, right?

The whole issue of whether it’s right or wrong for editors to consider poems posted on a blog or forum as published shouldn’t be an issue. Editors have their personal opinions on the issue and will stick by them. What’s more important is for poets to undertand what they want to achieve with their poetry and set forth on a course that will get them from point A to point B.

For instance, if you decide that your main goal as a poet is to just share your poems freely with as many people as will read them, then you’ll want to get a blog, join forums, go crazy on social networking sites and whatever else you can do to spread your poetic gospel. If that’s what you want, then good for you; the whole published is published debate doesn’t have an effect on how you act online.

If you decide you want to get published in literary journals and print publications, then you may need to tread more lightly and consider how and where you post drafts of your poems. Because the editors of such publications often do care whether your poems have appeared online or print previously. Whether you agree with this or not, that’s just how it is.

On the other hand, if your goal is to make millions of dollars writing poetry and use it as a platform to launch your own rock band–like Robert Lee Brewer & the Poets of Discontent–then you just might need to be pinched, because you’re obviously dreaming. Poets don’t make much money off publishing poetry, no matter where they’re published.

So here’s the bottom line: Consider what you want to accomplish as a poet. Then, make sure your online and print habits align with your long-term goals.

If you haven’t already, you can check out Nancy’s “Published is Published” post here.



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One thought on “The Importance of Setting Poetry Goals

  1. Jim K.

    I’ve found considerable variation
    in real implementation of the generic bar,
    but some clear patterns of allowance in most.
    Asking by email makes it much clearer usually.
    We cannot be mute and we cannot be sloppy.
    Life as we know it takes place between extremes.
    So keeping lists of what went where and asking
    for clarification seems the only practical way.
    "Due diligence" for each editor, as it were.
    I know only one pub. barring blog and forum bits
    so far, and there are exceptions taken ad hoc.
    If too many ask, of course, then the posted rules
    will become more granular. Wouldn’t that be nice.

    Had several conversations with contest officials
    after the pattern of more open categories for
    contests emerged. Their desire for the best
    trumps other concerns. The director of the
    Frost Foundation even allows some minor prior
    publication, oddly enough. Mark Schorr described about
    30 years of electronic internet poetry publication,
    including the first mass-list mailing
    (poems sent via the DEC corp’s cooperation,
    800 destinations, before the Web) he was in on,
    the sig groups (very much like today’s forums), etc.
    I’m pondering posting an interview sometime.

    Those with foundations and public discovery in their
    charter have different interests. Many print pubs.
    still wouldn’t worry about blogs or forums, but
    this is all in a state of flux. You can see
    online pubs. would worry more about other online
    things. Poets should get to know more about the
    editor’s personal take on ‘published’.

    So it’s good to know your publisher’s role, their
    preference, and the variations. They can and do have very
    different agendas.

    And to keep it from being too daunting, I think
    your points in other posts (and at CacklingJackal,
    I believe), about really getting to
    know the journals before you submit, is more important
    than ever.


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