20 Best Tips for Poets

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Over the years, I've been collecting the best tips for poets from other poets. Everyone has some truth they cling to, and there's a good chance you'll find inspiration from the following 20 poets!

20-16 Best Tips for Poets

Amy MacLennan

Amy MacLennan

"Always be writing the next poem." - Amorak Huey, author of Ha Ha Ha Thump

"Do. Not. Take. Rejections. Personally." - Amy MacLennan, author of The Body, A Tree

"Be kind. Be aware. Be brave." - Bryan Borland, author of DIG

"Writing is what makes you a writer. Not a book contract or an award, so don’t let anyone make you feel less than. And don’t quit." - Christina Stoddard, author of Hive

"I would tell (poets) to honor their truth, whatever it may be, and to write it. Trust the poem. Don’t try to force it or control it. Let the poem take you where it wants to go." - Beth Copeland, author of Transcendental Telemarketer


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15-11 Best Tips for Poets


Thomas Lux

"Read." - Thomas Lux, author of Child Made of Sand

"I don’t like to give advice because everyone else is different from me, and boy that is the truth! I guess I would say to be kind to other people and poets and don’t spend all your time schmoozing because it doesn’t matter that much in the end. Try and write something that the world hasn’t seen before because I, as a reader, want to read it. What else? Enjoy your life and your family, life’s short and fast. If you live your life, read a lot, and think a lot, you might have something interesting to say." - Victoria Chang, author of The Boss

"Just in case there are other poets like me out there who started writing because they loved it and then grew to judge themselves harshly every time they wrote because what they wrote wasn’t as good as they wished it was, I would say that every time you want to get mad at yourself or give up on writing, love it harder. Poetry has always given me way more than I could give it, and I believe it can do that for everyone." - Traci Brimhall, author of Our Lady of the Ruins

Heather Bell

Heather Bell

"I know a lot of writers who blow away anyone being published now, but are too afraid to publish or keep saying they just don’t have the time. You do have the time. Because you watched TV today (could have submitted), you brushed your hair (could have submitted), you ate a sandwich (could have submitted) and you spent all afternoon researching new utensils on Amazon (could have submitted). No excuses, guys. I’m tired of boring poetry, so you need to rise up like crazy apocalyptic looters with backpacks of poems and take over the literary magazines." - Heather Bell, author of Kill the Dogs

"My friend Ricardo Maldonado has been sending out his manuscript for a few years now with no bites. When I read his manuscript, I think this is a collection people will be talking about for years when it’s finally published. And it will be. So while the advice “Don’t get discouraged” sounds prosaic, it’s personal. I don’t want my friend to get discouraged, and neither should anyone else who loves this art as much as you must in order to become a poet." - Erica Wright, author of Instructions for Killing the Jackal


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In addition to the listings, there are articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry–so that poets can learn the ins and outs of writing poetry and seeking publication. Plus, it includes a one-year subscription to the poetry-related information on WritersMarket.com. All in all, it’s the best resource for poets looking to secure publication.

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10-6 Best Tips for Poets

"Listen!" - Annie Finch, author of Eve


Aaron Belz

"The first thing I’d tell new or young poets is not to get caught up in the whirlwind of stuff in the poetry world. Prizes, books, MFAs, writers colonies, networking opportunities–there are thousands upon thousands of poets in America who’ve been through the system and come out the other side not much better as poets. Remember that most English-speaking people, your presumed audience, don’t know or care about the pecking orders within the American poetry system. The key for you is to find your own way of talking and try it out often with some sort of audience. Write poems on a blog, e-mail poems to honest friends, and then listen to what sorts of reactions you get. The second thing I’d say is you must read old stuff. Dante, Herrick, Donne, Pope, Dickinson…Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore. Read voraciously! And read aloud." - Aaron Belz, author of Glitter Bomb

"Go live abroad, travel around the US too, road-trip and fall in love, work weird and mundane jobs–live a little, and grow a thick skin, and collect your images and snippets and bring them with you wherever you land. And most of all, don’t edit out the ugly." - Erika Meitner, author of Ideal Cities

"Welcome what comes. The poems choosing you are the ones that need to be written. Don’t judge them or worry if they’re “important” enough. Your poems will teach you who you are as a poet and a person. Just follow the golden thread and let them write you." - Sage Cohen, author of Like the Heart, the World

"Read everything! Be open to everything. Trust your process." - Denise Duhamel, author of Queen for a Day


Forget Revision, Learn How to Re-create Your Poems!


Do you find first drafts the easy part and revision kind of intimidating? If so, you’re not alone, and it’s common for writers to think the revision process is boring–but it doesn’t have to be!

In the 48-minute tutorial Re-Creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will learn how to go about re-creating their poems with the use of 7 revision filters that can help poets more effectively play with their poems after the first draft. Plus, it helps poets see how they make revision–gasp–fun!

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5-1 Best Tips for Poets

"For me writing is a little like keeping the barn clean. Every day I check over my work and see if there are any manure balls I need to remove. And every day there are. For sure. So I’m never surprised by a rejection. And I’m always amazed by an acceptance. That someone took something of mine, cow pies and all. So I’m grateful for even the tiniest forms of acceptance." - Nin Andrews, author of Sleeping with Houdini

Sandra Beasley (credit: Matthew Worden)

Sandra Beasley (credit: Matthew Worden)

"Oh, I have lots of little morsels of advice: read often and a lot. Floss. Invest in a good pair of shoes and write letters more often. Listen to the paper take the ink when you sign your name." - Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of At the Drive-In Volcano

"Read your contemporary poets, ideally in the venue of literary journals. That’s where the heart of today’s work is beating. So often poets decide a particular school is “not my thing” based not on what this generation is doing with the tenets of that school, but based on what the canonical style has been. The poetry world should be a lot more permeable than that." - Sandra Beasley, author of Count the Waves

"Drown yourself in it — all of it. Read like mad — at least ten books of poems a week. Don’t love everything. Hating certain types of poetry helps define your own aesthetic. Be daily. Go forth boldly." - Julianna Baggott, author of Lizzie Borden in Love

"There is no such thing as writer’s block." - Jillian Weise, author of The Amputee's Guide to Sex

Megan Volpert

Megan Volpert


And if none of this advice speaks to you, maybe you'll enjoy what Megan Volpert, author of Only Ride, has to say: "Fuhgeddaboudit. Stop asking fellow poets for advice and do whatever you damn well know in your heart feels best."


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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