Have you ever thought about how nice it would be to see your poem discussed in the New York Times? Think you have what it takes to become a famous poet? Well the unfortunate truth is that no one has what it takes to be a famous poet. Here’s a little exercise: Name the most famous contemporary poet you can think of. Louise Gluck, Frank Bidart, and Maya Angelou, are all well known poets, but did you even know who all of them were?
Mainstream America has no interest in poetry and so your biggest audience, as a poet, is going to be other poets. Even Maya Angelou had to write novels in order to place herself in the who’s who’s list of poets. Poets have to have day jobs. Even Pulitzer Prize winning poets are essentially awarded a day job along with the esteem and money that comes with the prize.
Now then, if you still aim to be a published poet, despite the lack of fame or wealth you will receive for your endeavors, there are a few things you can do to boost your “career.” Considering the fact that your biggest audience will be poets, you might need to establish a name for yourself within that circle.
Get subscriptions to well know literary journals. Keep your poetic eye on the kind of poetry that these journals publish. When you find a reputable journal that publishes poetry that compliments your poetic style, find out how you can submit your poem to this journal.
Submitting poetry to literary journals is an art in itself. Always pay particular attention to the guidelines and be sure to follow them to the last letter. If and when your poetry is published, be sure to pay attention to the rights. You might not be able to submit the same poems to another journal.
All right, then your next step will be to submit poetry to other journals, and since you’ve been published before, you can put that in your biography. You are now establishing a history of getting published in reputable journals. The more you publish, the higher you can go, see?
You can also try your hand at publishing chapbooks and asking local bookstores if you can do poetry readings to help you sell them. Self-publishing, which is how you publish your chapbooks, is more common and helpful for poets than it is for traditional novelists. The reason for this is that the consumer very rarely seeks after poetry. You might consider publishing your books and chapbooks after developing a history of getting published by literary journals.
Finally, don’t count out the power of the Internet Super Highway. Create a website for yourself that attracts the poetic community. Advertise your website and try to boost up your site’s Google rating. Once you do this, you have a great marketing tool for your self-published chapbooks and poetry books.
There are many ways, some not even mentioned in this article, for you to establish yourself as a poet. Just remember that it might be a slow, and at times, arduous journey that rarely yields wealth and fame.
Devrie Paradowski is a freelance writer and poet. Her poetry has been published by several literary journals and she has written dozens of articles for various publications including "Poetry Renewal Magazine," and "Poetryscams.com." She is the author of the chapbook, "Something In the Dirt," which can be found at http://www.lulu.com/content/108560 . In 2001, Devrie founded a popular online literary community ( http://www.LiteraryEscape.com ) that has become highly respected for some of the most honest and in-depth poetic critique on the Internet. In keeping with her commitment to inspire amateur writers to hone their skills, she also founded a local writer's group called, "The Fire and Ice Writer's Group."
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