Creating a Window for Yourself
“OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS”
Poets gather around this water cooler in droves. We lift our cups of wordle possibilities in thanks for those publishers who encourage our passion for verse and all things lyrical, be it anthology or collection.
For the average (and the not so average) poet, any open call for submissions sends us to our keyboards and notebooks on a hunt for anything that we might have that would be suitable and hasn’t already gone out in a submission.
“Heavens! Do I have anything that will work or can be reworked for this one? It’s a terrific opportunity by a BIG publisher.” Or, “I wish I’d found this earlier. I could’ve have written something perfect for this. Now I only have a couple of days to shoot something off to them.”
Sound familiar? Even if the sentiments aren’t voiced aloud, I’ll bet they’ve run through your mind a few times.
Writers are active hunters of publishing opportunities and poetry-specific markets are no different. The challenge rises when we talk about bigger numbers of poems.
Anthologies afford the chance for the beginning or established writer to find purchase with readers. Readers enjoy these amalgams of verse because of the varied voices and styles that make up the parade of pages. The number of publishers actively seeking contributors also varies in number in any given editorial month.
Finding these opportunities poses no great difficulty. Use google first for a flash search. I googled Poetry Anthology Submissions and got a long list of possibilities.
Whether you normally work in science fiction/fantasy or memoir, an anthology exists out there for your genre. Taking a chance with anthologies is painless and free. Unlike standard contests, submitting to such a work doesn’t come with a price tag, as a rule.
Collected works of poetry also pull in several writers to make up the contents, though these are usually done as a showcase for noteworthy or honored poets from a specific year or from a specific source, such as a journal or website.
A question floats to the surface of your mind. You’ve put yourself out there by sending your verse to those creating anthologies. But what about your full voice? Have you explored your full range of potential?
A personal collection is a group of poems, stories, essays, etc., which showcase a writer’s style and performance. Such a grouping contains anywhere from five to 100 poems by a given poet.
How can five poems constitute a collection? Simple. Small hand-crafted books of poetry have sold to readers for countless years which contain a few, select verses, short or long, all of which cluster around a central theme.
Larger groupings of poems feature in chapbooks and true “collections” of 75 to 100 poems. Publishers also call for these.
Poets & Writers Magazine, for instance, listed four open calls for chapbooks—two for contests and two for publishing houses. Winning Writers lists publishers looking for these smaller collections of poems, as well as contests for them.
Taking on a smaller size collection takes less time than a full-blown extravaganza. Try putting together a chapbook of verse around a theme you select. As poets, we all have favorite themes—pastoral, memoir, relationships, fantasy, whatever. Go through your stash; find 25 poems which cluster together in a theme. Rewrite, revise, rework until you’re happy with them. Then look for a place to send them.
Otherwise, look at what’s sought after. Go into your stash and pull those that fit the category sought. Rewrite, rework, and hone until satisfaction washes you clean of the urge, and submit.
Do you have 100 poems that have a theme? Create a collection and submit it to a publisher. Are they worthy of legend? Maybe not, but they certainly won’t find publication or readership languishing on your hard drive, either. Take a chance.
At the end of the day, little matters except how you use your poetry. If publication is your goal, you must submit. Anthologies encourage beginners. Something for everyone exists on that avenue. Collections allow a broader review of a writer’s abilities and range. They allow for experimentation without rebuke.
What you do as a poet depends entirely upon your choice of venue. You might only seek to publish in journals. No one says you must do more than that.
The bottom line remains one of finding happiness in your own words and your own verse. Only you can open the proper window for you. Everything else is secondary.