Ah verse, with rhythm
Lain before readers as banquets,
To feed minds questing.
Poets come in myriad sizes, shapes, ages, and backgrounds—each with stories to tell and emotions to vent. History is filled with them, relating ages gone by or yet to come, as seen from the monocular view. Whether pastoral or political, contributions from poets have influenced generations of word lovers.
I doubt any poet considers recompense before the first word is chosen for a line in a verse. Instead, I surmise that a need to express one’s experience of a moment in time was and is the only true motivation of the writer. Publishing poetry is much the same in the marketplace. Little income seems to be the rule.
Contrarily, poetry seems to have risen in recent years on a crest of popularity unseen for several decades. I did a search for poetry websites to see how prevalent online poetry business really was and came away gratified.
With over ten pages of links to my “Poetry Websites” search was the listing of Related Searches that gave me this:
Searches related to poetry websites:
- poetry contests
- poetry websites for teens
- all poetry
- poetry blogs
- poetry websites for middle school
- poetry websites for kids
- poetry sharing websites
The numbers of these websites and blogs boggled the mind. Poetry is alive and well in the international market.
If you’re not sure if you’re writing decent or indeed good poetry, spend time on a website that caters to regular postings from writers or which instructs by example and participation. There are many to choose from and the feedback given by other poets is invaluable. A few excellent sites to consider are:
- Poetic Asides operated by Robert Lee Brewer of Writer’s Digest
- Poetic Bloomings operated by Walt Wojtanik
- dVerse operated by Brian Miller and Claudia Schoenfeld
- Our Lost Jungle operated by Khara House
- All Poetry operated as a posting/feedback site for membership fee.
- FanStory operated as a free posting/feedback site for all writers/poets
Some websites or poetry communities also publish anthologies of work shared during the year. Other writing-related websites also encourage poets to submit their verse for anthology use.
Once you’ve gained confidence in your abilities, you’ll want to submit choice poems to journals or magazines. Venues for nearly every conceivable type of poetry exist—some pay but many don’t.
At the top end of the pay spectrum is Poetry Magazine, which pays a minimum of $300 per poem published. At the low end of the spectrum are those journals in the huge non-pay group.
Online and print journals each have purpose and value. Online journals (some of which have print versions) give the poet a ready and willing market. They provide a stage on which to perform your word magic. They also provide experience with submission guidelines and presentation, as well as working with experienced poetry editors. Some even provide podcast experience, which can help the poet gather an audience without having to travel to stand on a stage for a live reading.
As thrilling as it is to see your work shining from the screen, online journals don’t have the clout, at present, that those in print do. Print journals are more selective as a rule, but the credentials created by publication in these magazines are the indelible markers for a poet’s publishing career. The more publishing credits the poet gathers, the more seriously the industry perceives the writer. That’s a fact of the industry.
More markets in both these mediums exist today than ever before. The poet can specialize in Haiku and all its forms and find a home anywhere. Long or epic poetry has made resurgence of late with markets in both areas. Poetry forms are being explored and expanded in a new renaissance of verse.
Yet between the two ends are the contests which, if won, can be very lucrative.
Two considerations for every writer when entering contests are crucial.
One is the reading fee. Unless the prize awards are $1000 or more and extremely prestigious, don’t pay more than $25 to enter. This has been a standing rule for years.
Big name contests, such as the annual Tennessee Williams Poetry Prize is a prestigious award well worth its $20 entry fee. The prize is $1000.
Other contests can range from a reading/entry fee of between $3 and $25, with top prizes between $300 and $1500.
Unlike some, many poets can’t afford such entry fees, especially if they wish to enter more than one contest in a given month. This is where free contests come in. Many well-known and honorable competitions are free. Winning Writers website and newsletter outlines these opportunities each month. This valuable resource website constantly updates on 200 such contests as well as entry-fee venues. Take your pick.
The second caveat of contests is the rejection factor. Like with all literary work, rejection is a part of the process. Your work will come up against hundreds, if not thousands, of other poets. Only three writers will be chosen for those prizes on the banner. That’s stiff competition.
However, great good does come from the practice of entering. Gather those rejections with enthusiasm, for they provide a street map of your progress. If you hadn’t traveled on the road to publication, you wouldn’t have them. Many poets never believe in themselves enough to risk putting their work in front of contest judges. They never seek the prize at the end of the road.
The only way to be a poet is to write verse in as many forms as you can, to whatever prompt inspires you. To publish your work requires belief in those words you’ve penned and the courage to send it out into the world. Whether you choose online or print, journal or contest, you’ve done what’s necessary to call yourself Poet.
Do you have any favorite markets to share? Have you entered any contests lately? What journals have you submitted work to? Let us know in the comments below! We can’t wait to hear from you.
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