I Wrote a Poem, Now What?
Hello, folks! This is probably the most common question I receive, and I can understand why. Writing poetry can be incredibly therapeutic, but sometimes, you want to share. Maybe you have one particularly good poem, or perhaps you want to get your name out there as a poet.
There is a lot of information out there, but I’m going to talk here about the first steps. The early days, if you will. Well, first…
You Need More Than One Poem.
Many people get excited when they get that first excellent poem on paper, and they think, this is it, it’s time to get published. And they might be right! That poem may be exactly what people are looking for—but one is often not enough.
Most journals request a minimum of three poems from a person, so keep writing! The best poets carve out an hour or more every day to write. Chances are, you’ll come away with something of value every session, whether it’s a phrase, a stanza, or a completed poem. Once you have at least three strong poems, you’re ready to start the next step.
Finding the Perfect Place to Send Them.
When you’re first starting as a poet, you can consider submitting to literary journals, anthologies, or contests, but I would strongly suggest starting with journals. I’m currently compiling a detailed list of publications in Canada, and I’ll make that available through my newsletter next month!
For now, you want to find a journal that publishes content that reminds you of what you write, somewhere you can see your writing fitting in. There is such a wide variety of poetry, and to get the best chance of acceptance, you need to find the perfect place to send your writing. If they can’t find samples of their writing online, you can buy a subscription (woo, supporting the arts!) or visit your local library to find a past issue.
Before you pick the perfect home for your poetry, remember to review their submission guidelines. Some journals only accept submissions at certain times of the year, others ask for them to be in a particular format, and others only accept poems from certain diverse groups. Ensure that you can meet their guidelines, and have read them thoroughly, and then, start crafting your submission.
Maybe you didn’t see anything there you were interested in, or anywhere your work fit. If that’s the case, make an account on Submittable. Submittable is the platform most magazines use to accept submissions, and there are many niche journals and new online poetry zines available there.
Some journals will allow simultaneous submissions (this means you send your poems to more than one place at a time), but many do not. It’s more important to get your poem in the hands of the right editor than to get it in the hands of many editors. Once one journal has accepted it, you need to notify all of the others that this happened, and no longer submit that poem to other journals.
Remember, most journals have a 1-5% acceptance rate. Every successful poet has received numerous rejection letters, so if you receive one, try not to dwell on it. It isn’t pleasant, but everyone’s been there.