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From Poetry To Profit!

by Jennifer Brown Banks

If you’re a writer, chances are, at one time or another you’ve dabbled in poetry. Whether it was through personal journal entries or a passion-penned piece to a loved one.

And though you may not have the makings of Barrett-Browning or Poe, you can make extra cash. With ease!

One of the secrets to longevity in the writing business is definitely diversification.

To this end, poetry provides a painless way to keep the creative juices and the cash flowing. Especially when you consider that an 8 line submission of verse can yield a quick $200.00 from a greeting card publisher! In addition to complimentary cards and your name credited on the product.

Even a 3-4 line Haiku (Japanese poem) could have you hopping to the bank.

My poetry has supplemented my freelance writing for many years. From the sell of decorative, framed gift items to chapbooks. Not to mention, paid competitions and performances.

So, if you want to build your portfolio and your bank account, here’s how to begin!


  • Apply the K.I.S.S. principle. Make it sweet and simple. Unlike other genres of writing, poetry is not intended to be long and laden with details. Your work should captivate your readers, not hold them captive!
  • Think original- Find a unique way of communicating common emotions and experiences. Try using different literary devices such as personification, metaphors, and alliteration. Create images and ideas that are sensory oriented. Practice playing around with the old familiar “Roses are red, violets are blue” theme, or “How do I love thee let me count the ways?”
  • Take advantage of the books on tape craze! Get your karaoke out of the corner, get some blank cassettes and a little soft background music, and place your poetry on tape. For the cover, you can cut to size a personal photograph, or graphics placed on cardstock.
  • Have a particular target audience in mind and speak in their language.
  • Take a trip to your local card and gift shop - Browse the selection to see what appeals to you. What caught your eye? What touched your heart? Incorporate these techniques in your work.
  • Take an on line course to brush up on your skills. Need help in perfecting your prose? There are many free and fee based classes available.
  • Study the greats! My favorites are Sonia Sanchez, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, Jeanne Towns, Alice Walker, Edgar Alan Poe, Javan, and Peter McWilliams.


KATE HARPER DESIGNS- P.O. Box 2112, Berkeley, CA 94702--- Seeks submissions, especially from children. Occasional greetings that are 5 words or less. Themes wanted in ranking order of need are: Birthday, thank you, encouragement, friendship, sympathy, anniversary, love wedding, new baby, congratulations, missing you. E-mail submissions to:

Subject line: Short quotes.

CURRENT, INC.--- Freelance Editors, Box 2559, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-2559. Phone (719) 594-4100. Pays $100.00. Wants humor only for birthday, get well, friendship. Send SASE for guidelines.

GALLANT GREETINGS--- Chris Allen, P.O. Box 308, Franklin Park, IL 60131. Send 20 ideas per batch. Traditional and humorous.

COMSTOCK CARDS--- David Delacroix 600 S. Rock, Suite 15, Reno, NV 89502-4115. Risque humor. Pays $50-75 per card idea. E-mail

AMBERLEY GREETING CARD CO.--- Dave McPeek 11510 Goldcoast Dr. Cincinnati, Ohio 45249. Pays $150.00 per card idea. Submit maximum 10 ideas per batch. Humorous only. Send SASE for writer’s guidelines before submitting.

BLUE MOUNTAIN ARTS, INC--- Editorial Dept. Dept. WM, PO Box 1007, Boulder, CO 80306-1007. Seeking poetry and sensitive writings that would be appropriate for greeting cards. Pays $200.00 per poem.