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THE VITAL SIGNS OF CANADIAN POETRY - Cyndi MacMillan's Blog

About Cyndi MacMillan
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Cyndi MacMillan's current projects include three children's book series. Her "life as a writer' blogs can be read at  https://cyndimacmillan.wordpress.com/  Three of her poems have been published in Room magazine, issue 49.4, This Body's Maps, https://roommagazine.com/issues/bodys-map  Two poems have been published in the Prairie Journal ( Issue 67)http://www.prairiejournal.org/subscribe.html   Other poems can be found in Fieldstone Review, Issue 2015 http://www.fieldstonereview.usask.ca/article.php?article=167, Grain Magazine, issue 42.4, Summer 2015, Passed Signs/New Fields http://www.grainmagazine.ca/424  , The Steel Chisel, April 2016, http://www.thesteelchisel.ca/april2016_07.html.  The Centrifugal Eye, Spring 2016, the Unformed issue  http://www.centrifugaleye.com/ . She participated in the 20 Poem Challenge at The Ekphrastic Review: Writing and Art on Art and Writing, and twelve of her poems have been published by the journal.http://www.ekphrastic.net/apps/search?q=Cyndi+MacMillan.

Her fiction has appeared in local newspapers and has won contests. Her short story, Missed Steps, is forthcoming in the Windsor Review. She enjoys reading literary journals, and she is actively pursuing further publication within their glossy covers while writing chapter books and early middle readers.

Poetry soup is a friendly forum which enables people from around the world to share their writing. It has some great resources and provides a nice space for people to connect.

Cyndi lives in a small town in Ontario with her husband, young daughter and far too many books.

.


THE VITAL SIGNS OF CANADIAN POETRY


Blog Posted:1/16/2014 10:10:00 PM

 

 

This blog is about poetry in Canada, a personal view on its vital signs. It is long

 

IF YOU HAVE NO TIME, SKIP TO MY QUESTIONS AT THE END,

but if you do read this through, I think many of you will nod your heads.

 

I thought it might be interesting to share some observations about poetry and publication on a website for international poets. Hopefully, it will open up a discussion and poets from around the globe will be able to report whether poetry is thriving where they live... or slowly dying.

 

Here in Canada, if you go to a bookstore, whether that bookstore be an independent (Bless their tenacity!) or Indigo/Chapters, the poetry section is substantially smaller than those of fiction, biographies, cooking... actually, I'd say that in most shops I frequent, the poetry section is THE smallest.

 

It is small because, in general, poetry is not popular. Don't boo and hiss AT me, people, boo and hiss WITH me!

 

When I say to the average Canadian, I just picked up a book of poems written by someone in Guelph, they stare at me. When I say that I like poetry, they stare some more. When I say I even WRITE poetry, they stop staring... lol... 'cause they are scared to look me in the eye. They think I'll start sprouting something in rhyme or find too much material behind their dark glasses.

 

I remember a Souper from South Africa explaining how difficult it was for her to even buy ONE book of poetry, never mind find a single resource on structure, form or device. It was eye-opening for me, since I had frequently groused about reference material in Canada.

 

I feel comfortable saying that most Canadian poets, even those recognized, cannot make a living off poetry. Poetry is a passion, an art that bleeds one dry in a thousand ways, but I would not classify it as a hobby, oh no, not me. I think, regardless of race, age, sex or faith, each poet would say the same thing:. Poetry is their religion, their obsession, their heartbeat, their sweat, their friend, and at times, even their fear, foe and futility.

 

In Canada, we are very fortunate to have an art's grant, and the majority of poetry books/magazines/literary journals are published due to these grants. In Canada, if you have published 10 poems (not self-published) the POET is eligible for a grant. This enables the POET to pursue the art, perhaps self-publish a book.

 

AND PUBLISHERS are also eligible for grants and subsidies. This opens their door just a tad wider. It isn't that they are less ... studious?... in their quest for the excellence. It is simply that when they find a poet that delights them, they have the funds to actually publish the book. Because, in all seriousness, it is a risk and poetry books, unless you're Atwood, are not profitable.

 

Okay, I'll go to my bookshelf. Join me? Just don't step on the dolly carriage or beaver-dam of crayons I've been meaning to pick up. Here. This is one I like. Walking into the Night Sky by Lyn King. Publisher Brick Books. I'll turn to the copyright page. It's right there...

 

We gratefully acknowledge the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program(BPIDP) and the Ontario Arts Council for their support of our publishing program.

 

Okay, so join me at the computer. Ignore the dust, the My Little Fricking Pony that keeps appearing on the keyboard ... gimme a second. Okay...

 

Brick books:

 

"Brick Books' mandate is to publish poetry of the highest quality by both new and established Canadian writers. Each book represents a full collection of one writer's work. Brick Books can only publish authors who are Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. We receive approximately 100 manuscripts for consideration every year. We publish only 7 books a year. Please note that we only read submissions between January 1 and April 30. Submissions received outside of our reading period will be returned. Our publishing schedule is filled two years in advance. Please send the full manuscript when you are submitting to Brick Books. Unfinished manuscripts are unlikely to be considered. You should be familiar with our books to see if your writing is a good fit with our publishing program. Check out our books in your local bookstore or library or browse our website. - See more at: http://www.brickbooks.ca?

 

7 books of poetry. That's it? And, excuse me, that's it! I have a 7% chance at acceptance? Oh, whoop-fricking-ee

 

Yuppers.

 

Warning: here comes a strong opinion

 

The thing is if we keep ONLY BUYING Yeats, Frost, Auden and Shelley, guess what? The publishers will only publish Yeats, Frost, Auden and Shelley.

 

When we can, if we can, how we can, if we buy poetry books and magazines featuring today's poets, local poets and poets from across the globe... publishers won't be biting their nails, thinking man, this is some great stuff, but IT HAS NO MARKET.

 

I do try to buy the books of local poets when I can. This week I couldn't. The one I wanted was $19! And so the cycle continues... I will be asking for that book for my birthday and a few more...

 

Rant now finished, sorry for that

 

So, in Canada, poets have the option of 1) self-publishing, with or without a book grant, 2) finding a publisher who believes your work is lovely and will sell enough copies to keep them supplied in Kraft dinner and 3) Vanity Press

 

Vanity Press is a term coined for those who pay someone else to have their work published. Reversed thinking, huh? Ha! Some anthologies do this. World Poetry Movement has been mentioned on the internet as being Vanity Press.

 

Though not recognized as a legitimate publication by editors, there are times when a poet simply doesn't care and wants to see their poetry between two covers, either for themselves or to pass on to family members. Just be aware of scams.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanity_press

 

Soo.....

 

  1. What are the bookstores like where you live? Is the poetry section small compared to, say, science fiction or romance? About the same

     

  2. What is on those poetry shelf, either at home or at the shop? Just the classics? Several contemporary books of poetry, either local poets or perhaps national icons? What about journals and magazines? One or twenty?

     

3. Do the publishers of poetry in your area/country/neck of the woods also receive grants or subsidies?

4 Do you believe that poetry ON A WHOLE is alive and kicking in your community (no, lol, NOT Poetrysoup, I mean the other-your community, like where you park your car) or does it seem to need cardiac resuscitation?

5 Is poetry promoted in your community? Are there avenues to hear poetry, spoken word events? Does your library have poetry contests, new material?

I think it would be interesting to hear from the poets from Australia and the Philippines, the UK and The US, France, Greece, Italy, Israel, Norway, China, Japan... and on and on and on.

 

Please, share... I don't mind if you go off topic, but let's keep it friendly, Please?

 

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Date: 1/19/2014 5:15:00 PM
Ok there is more to follow as I have been away for the weekend....
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Date: 1/17/2014 7:17:00 PM
I'm afraid I have too much to say about this and some people would not like it, so I will only say this: Poetry is, as my husband likes to point out to me, a glorified "hobby" of mine that is worth beans. Sadly, he is right. One is lucky to get a magazine for free just for being published in one. Does anyone know a magazine that actually pays poets for their work? The only poetry selling in OUR book stores are the "classics" and the classic shall remain forevermore the classics. Even a hundred years from now. It will be Frost and Keats but nobody I admire at Soup whose name is known in the world. It is very sad. That's all I better say!
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MacMillan Avatar
Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:12:00 PM
That was supposed to be NOW check out the payment. LOL
MacMillan Avatar
Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:11:00 PM
In Canada, many magazine pay up to $40 for a poem because of those art grants I mentioned. Grain, for example http://www.grainmagazine.ca/submissions.html no check out the payment.... $50 a page. And it accepts submissions from writers around the world! Check it out, highlight the link.
Date: 1/17/2014 5:12:00 PM
I have a strange reaction to all this [ie: the writing & the joy of poetry] I'd rather write it than read it [you can't hit me with a tomato cause I'm under the desk!] Believe it, I immerse in the process, I leave the planet, I enjoy how writing insulated and isolates and captures me heart & soul. If I want to read and I do daily, I read historic fiction, I read meaty men's action adventure books, I read fantasy! There's not enough meat in poetry to really absorb me.
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:27:00 PM
As far as no meat in poetry, I just ate a beefcake last night. No extra fat, just lean lean lean protein... White Egrets by Derek Walcott. This slender hardcover that I can bring to bed. And I have fallen hard for Baudelaire. He's fillet mignon, Bet.
MacMillan Avatar
Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:23:00 PM
Sisters! Sisters! There were never such devoted sisters! (In case some rumour starts that Dee and Bet are now having a food fight)
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:20:00 PM
Oh, you. LOL. I may just pull you out from under that desk. I know. Many of us are in the same boat... WHAT money to buy poetry? I need to MAKE money, not spend it. And yet, see the irony, here? We are expecting OTHERS to shell out hard earned cash to pay for a mag/book our work will be published in and yet not support arts by doing the same. (now Cyndi dives under the laundry pile!)
Guzzi Avatar
Debbie Guzzi
Date: 1/17/2014 5:15:00 PM
18,165 poems from PS read ;)
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Debbie Guzzi
Date: 1/17/2014 5:13:00 PM
besides do you have any idea how many of the poets on Soup I have read in the last 10 years! [I need a pallet cleanser like sorbet after steak!]
Date: 1/17/2014 4:16:00 PM
Hi Cyndi... In Malta, We have many book stores compared to the island's micro size on the map .One can get published with or without grant.Its easy to get published yet harder to get sold.It seems that its always the same prominent figures which make a hit,Always the national icons 's and same familiar faces's books,which fill the book shelves,Its difficult for newbies to compete,yet not impossible.In these last 20 years there were many changes..Increased events and activities to enhance love for poetry,but in many of these events one finds mostly university students ,graduated people,or retired ones.I do believe more could be done.Then,to be published in magazines is much easier.
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Date: 1/17/2014 8:10:00 AM
Now, I should have said that this blog is about PRINTED publications. Oh, I LOVE the PRINTED WORD, the feel of paper, the smell of paper. I am a bibliophile. I do not disparage Ebooks and yes, I see that is the way the industry is headed. In truth, this saddens me, no, more than that. It MADDENS me. I have childhood books, still... they are some of my best friends. The idea that eventually all these tomes, all these booklets and chapbooks and glossy trades and yellowing paperbacks will go the way of the dodo breaks my heart. Ebooks are keeping the art of poetry breathing, but (my humble opinion only) is a pistol to the head of the printed word. I'm a paradox here, I understand the plight of today's poets. Roll the dice, try for publication or say to heck with that, I'll go for the self-publication, take out the middle man of printers all together and go the "Kindle way." I am a dying breed. In my heart (not my reasoning, which tsks tsks me for even saying this) if it isn't printed and bound, it isn't a book. It's a file. THIS IS JUST AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE FROM A TRUE BOOK LOVER... not a gauntlet tossed into the ring.
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Debbie Guzzi
Date: 1/17/2014 5:07:00 PM
yes PAPER, thick, raw edged, pressed! rice! ohh paper please I collect and sell on ebay illustrated books from the 1890's -1950
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Charmaine Chircop
Date: 1/17/2014 4:17:00 PM
I'm.with you too and great blog!!
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Painted Hunter
Date: 1/17/2014 9:48:00 AM
I'm with you.
Date: 1/17/2014 8:04:00 AM
In the town nearest to me, there is one small library with a poetry section you need a telescope to find. The local newspaper used to print a poem every week but it wasn't popular and they cut it. The poetry section in chain bookstores in our larger cities is not bad, but not nearly as big as other sections....and it's mostly the classics. However, I actually do know quite a few people in the surrounding areas here that write poetry. My mom is one, and her dad, and I have an uncle that also writes poetry.(though none of them as much as me) I have a book of poems by my great grandfather also. There are deep music roots here, so poetry is looked at fondly by most...as connected.
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Painted Hunter
Date: 1/20/2014 6:51:00 AM
You're invited too, Debbie!
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Debbie Guzzi
Date: 1/17/2014 5:05:00 PM
Hey what about me! I haven't had anyone to go lake fishing with since I was like 8!
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Painted Hunter
Date: 1/17/2014 9:39:00 AM
I'm glad you like the sound of things here. Honestly, there was a time when I was ashamed to tell people where I was from and how we live, but I embrace it now.
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Painted Hunter
Date: 1/17/2014 9:34:00 AM
David said he's coming to visit us. I hope he gets to. Spring and early summer would be best...good fishing. And you'd be welcome too. Quiet days on the pond, fish fries in the evening, hanging out on the sandbar of the river catching catfish, drinkin' sweet tea(or beer) in the shade..
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:54:00 AM
How wonderful to have that bond with your parents!!!!! I am trying hard not to cry. Too much to explain. Your community sounds so warm, so ... affectionate to poets. I just asked David if he had a guest room. Hell, I'd take your porch and a quilt at your place and be quite content, methinks.
Date: 1/17/2014 3:33:00 AM
Cyndi, Compared to other forms of literature poetry remains(as it always has) a minority pursuit.What is 'good' poetry is subjective much like looking at a piece of artwork.The world has gone digital (witness this site ) so I would advise poets here to publish their work on Amazon's Kindle. ebooks is where the future lies if you wish to see your writing published.Don't quit the day job ie even the modern 'greats' ie Heaney and Williams etc had regular 'non poetic 'sources of income.T'was ever thus. Rgds Brian
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:18:00 AM
Hello, Brian. Sigh, I both agree with you and don't... such a catch 22, I feel. I wrote a long comment above, not against your position, but simply a love letter about mine. Hope you get that. PS-- from what I read in Davids response, I need to move to ENGLAND
Date: 1/17/2014 2:22:00 AM
Cyndi this is just a quick answer as time is a premium..where I live there are several book stores (usual big names) whose poetry sections are actually quite big and a good selection, but there are also a few select book stores that have huge poetry sections plus one has a section that sells the latest self published books. I am a member of 3 poetry groups and one writers circle. I and my friends have had lots of our poems displayed in local shop windows ( to match a certain theme they may be doing ) Remembrance Sunday, Valentines Day, Mothers Day and so on,and here you can self publish for nothing at all and sell online or pay a small fee ( very small) and you can have your book distributed in all big book stores..as it is through a government grant scheme to promote books....anyone can do it in UK....
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Debbie Guzzi
Date: 1/17/2014 5:03:00 PM
There are a few magazines letting foreigners in coming out of the UK, I do feel the EU in general is more supportive of poetry. What Dee said can we both come live with you? LOL
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:47:00 AM
My favourite movie of all time next to To Kill a Mockingbird would be 84 Charing Cross Road... Have you seen it? I picture England this way and it seems you are describing what is in my mind's eye. Bookstores celebrating, archiving, promoting and teeming with poetry. NIRVANA! Have a guest room? LOL. Thanks for taking the time, chum!
Date: 1/17/2014 1:48:00 AM
we have several quality bookstores which promote the 10 best selling books of the week or month-- that's their bread and butter!.. since my poetry book is being published by the no.1 bookplace, i was told NOT to expect a lot of proceeds from it, owing to the fact that, yes, poetry is losing steam... fantasy, non-fiction, mags, self-help paperback( this is went up to 25%) rule... sadly, the owner, ms. nanay ramos, confessed that poems can be searched via internet.. would you believe the publisher wanted me to write romane-action novellas?.. they are the staple for young adults.. still, poetry books here have a small section ( classic to modern), rarely perused by most, except me.. sigh!
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:50:00 AM
My writing professor said, quote, "I am a writing whore." LOL. She believed in finding the market and writing for it. I'm a fence sitter with this ideology. Because I write fiction, I get it. Because I write poetry, I dismiss it. Because I love to read both, I understand it. And you can quote ME on that. LOL
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nette onclaud
Date: 1/17/2014 1:57:00 AM
in fairness, the top bookstores have a regular poetry workshop where i sometimes do poetry reading.. we all discuss a renowned poet and exchange ideas.. the last one was about octavio paz... also, second hand bookstores have the MOST UNUSUAL fare of poems-- i got a robert pinksy and american negro poetry anthology from the bin!
Date: 1/16/2014 11:20:00 PM
I live in Kenya and there are about five published poets – all published abroad. Publishers grants? Don’t even bother writing a poetry book – no publisher will look at it (yep, speaking from experience). Poetry section? Forget about it! There are two poetry books by poets from around Africa that are part of the school syllabus. Avenues to hear poetry? Yes, there are two groups that do readings – they meet in nice hotels and cafés- whose gonna spend money going to a café to listen to a poetry reading? Not me! (I can’t afford it). But I have met poets from my country at PoetrySoup and we do what we love best – reading and writing poetry – and we have to be content with that. That’s life!
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:59:00 AM
Hey, thanks for sharing the perspective from Kenya. Much appreciated!!!!
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/17/2014 8:58:00 AM
Vicky, I hear you! I've moved to a small town.. in the city where I used to live, there were some open night mikes at a variety of cafés and (gulp) I don't have $10 for a cup of coffee and a dessert square the size of my pinky. Nor do I want to lift my pinky as I sip from my cup, just to fit in...
Date: 1/16/2014 10:52:00 PM
I wish to God we could get the blood pumping back into the heart of poetry. If some of us had lived 1-200 hundred years ago, we would be celebrated and accomplished poets. But it's doubtful any of us will go down in this generation's annals of "Best Poets of the 21st century". We are a small tribe and only a tiny fraction of a faction of artists. Unless used in song lyrics, poetry is just..."archaic" (hence my nom de plume). I believe I'm good at what I do, but I don't think my artistry will leave a footprint on history. I wish to God, even posthumously, that my work will one day be celebrated, studied, taught and cherished by some. That is my dream, right there :)
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/16/2014 11:08:00 PM
I'm exhausted. Its midnight. But I had to put this out there... wanted to see what the consensus was... will chat with you tomorrow.My eyes are blurring! Big HUG!
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/16/2014 11:06:00 PM
I used the term "contemporary" in this blog, but I meant current or...perhaps more to the point, "Poets published within the last five years."
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Cyndi MacMillan
Date: 1/16/2014 11:05:00 PM
I've seen published books of rhyme here in Canada... but very few. Quills is the name of a magazine I quite enjoy that features a mix of rhyme and free verse poetry. I hear you, though. I was just wondering if somewhere, poetry still has that "star power," where the shelves can't even hold all the current poets
Date: 1/16/2014 10:41:00 PM
Fascinating and thought provoking blog, Miss Cyndi. I live in the states, but I live in eastern Ky in the Appalachian Mountains and I can tell you, poetry has been on its death bed since the beatniks came along and hacked poetry to pieces with their "revolutionary" tripe and drivel. Very few people actually care about poetry. Good poetry makes you think and feel, and in this epoch of indifference and automaton thinking, no one wants to venture with the journey a poem takes you on. Everybody knows that I am a "Rhymer" and I think rhyme is primarily the only worthwhile form, even though I admit the other forms do have their merits.
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Monarch of Summer Haibunanimals,devotion,inspirat
Untouched Rhymeforgiveness,me,me,
Beaucoup Blooms Terza Rimanature,spring,spring,
On Heaven's Doorway Narrativeinspirational,life,care,c
WALKING ON FAITH Versefaith,for children,
Sleepless Nights Narrativeangst,imagination,mystery
Another Face Rhymelost love,
Paired Parings Balladchildhood,
AUTUMN'S SPLENDOROUS BEAUTY Quatrainnature,autumn,autumn,
friend to friend Haikupeople,philosophy,
Calligraphy Verseon writing and words,
Cyndi Sonnetdedication,
Night Comes Rhymetime,
Without Hope's Gleam Terzanellehope,flower,flower,joy,pa
When Your Dead YOUR Dead Rhymefriendship,love,wife,
after my prayer Haikuinspirational,
Chamber Music Chopped Blank versemusic,
Down Fall Italian Sonnetbeautiful,miracle,nature,
God Forbid Coupletangst,devotion,write,life
To Kashinath and Cyndi Rhymededication,devotion,frien
CHERISHED Sonnetlove,peace,
Live the Cliches Free versedream,hope,love,poetry,in
Bliss State Quatrainfaith,
A tribute to Leonora G Dramatic Versedeath,deep,epic,evil,sorr
IN THE MOOD Light Poetryadventure,woman,
A Reminder: To Be Free versetruth,writing,
SWITCH magazine Free versededication,hope,life,love
Westward Movement Free versedevotion,love,peace,
Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis Epicabuse,analogy,corruption,
The Byway Rhymecare,
To Love Myself Sonnetlove,new year,self,
The Rocking Chair Rhymechild,christmas,sister,
To the Rescue Rhymesnow,
Onward Christian Soldiers Rhyme 
BEYOND TEARS Rhymechild,encouraging,hope,
Dewberry Cobbler Haibungrowing up,
Release Free verseencouraging,grief,hope,st
IN STILLNESS Free versechange,life,
Within Reason- Maurice Yvonne and Seren Roberts Verselife,
The Skeletons And Songs Of Samsara - 1 Crown of Sonnetsbirth,death,life,
Softly Sonnetpoetry,
CANDLES OF YOUR FINGERS Light Poetrydeath,memory,missing you,
Inner City Free versecity,

Fav Poets

PoetCountry 
Debbie Guzzi United States Flag United States Read
Caryl Muzzey United States Flag United States Read
Joe Flach United States Flag United States Read
nette onclaud Philippines Flag Philippines Read
Drake Eszes United States Flag United States Read
Mystic Rose Canada Flag Canada Read
elizabeth wesley Canada Flag Canada Read
Rhonda Johnson-Saunders United States Flag United States Read
Carrie Richards United States Flag United States Read
kathryn collins United States Flag United States Read
David Williams United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Charmaine Chircop Malta Flag Malta Read
Francine Roberts Canada Flag Canada Read
Faye Gibson United States Flag United States Read
Hannington Mumo Kenya Flag Kenya Read
Lora Robinson United States Flag United States Read
Chris D. Aechtner Canada Flag Canada Read
John lawless United States Flag United States Read
Keith Trestrail Trinidad and Tobago Flag Trinidad and Tobago Read
kabuteng P.iNk k. Philippines Flag Philippines Read
Roy Jerden United States Flag United States Read
ANTHONY MARK United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Brian Strand United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Olive Eloisa Guillermo - Fraser Philippines Flag Philippines Read
Charlotte Jade Puddifoot United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Joann Grisetti United States Flag United States Read
Painted Hunter United States Flag United States Read
Connie Marcum Wong United States Flag United States Read
Tim Ryerson United States Flag United States Read
olusegun Arowolo Nigeria Flag Nigeria Read
Becca Teagan United States Flag United States Read
Royal Ninja United States Flag United States Read
Justin Bordner United States Flag United States Read
Garth von Buchholz Canada Flag Canada Read
Jim Howe United States Flag United States Read
Shronda Wilson United States Flag United States Read
Sneha RV The Literature Lover India Flag India Read
Agnes Krampe United States Flag United States Read
Cyndi MacMillan Canada Flag Canada Read