Poetry FAQs: Making Your Mark

Publish date:

So an anonymous poet recently sent me the following message:

"I was just curious to know how I can go about getting my name out there and getting my poetry published. I love to write and I am very anxious, but I just don't know where to start. This is all new to me. If you could help me that would be great."

To answer this, I'm going to make an assumption that this poet has already spent a good deal of time working on her craft and also on reading other poets--both contemporary and legendary. If a poet has not done this, then that is where to start. Plus, it wouldn't hurt to join a critique group--whether online or off.

Beyond this simple apprenticeship stage, though, there are some things poets can do. First off, submit to print and online publications that publish poems similar to the ones you write. Having an ear and eye for how your work might fit in with a publication is an art in and of itself, and for many poets it takes a long time to develop this skill. But if you apply yourself and try to learn from both acceptance and rejection, eventually you will get the hang of it.

After you've accumulated some publication credits, you may have enough material to start putting together a collection of work. While you could submit directly to a publisher, the trend increasingly seems to be to submit to chapbook (20-40 page collections) and full-length book competitions (48 or more page collections).

Once you've published your first collection, you can start doing the rounds on the late night talk show circuits and selling out arenas for your mega-popular poetry readings. Okay, so that will likely never happen (but if it does, don't forget your ol' pal, Robert, you hear?).

Here's the super-simplified steps:

1. Read and write a lot of poetry.
2. Get published in print and online publications.
3. Put together a poetry collection.

Simple enough, eh?

If any poets have more to add, be sure to leave a comment below. You know I love hearing from y'all.