You may have written one poem or a selection of many, but one of the hardest things about being a poet is getting your work out into the world - giving it the showcase it deserves?
If you want the world to see your poetry then these key points are a great starting place:
- Believe in yourself
- Poetry and literary magazines
- Get published in anthologies
- Enter poetry competitions
- Organise yourself
- Join writers' groups
- Self publish
Believe in yourself
You must believe in yourself and your poetry. You must believe that the things you want to say are worth saying and that they matter. You must believe that what you want the world to hear is different from all of the other poetry gone before.
Poetry and literary magazines
There are literally hundreds of literary magazines for poets in the UK, from glossies like Agenda to home-cooked pamphlets produced in the editor's garage. All of these can help you gain a platform for your work. Some research on Google or a trip to the Poetry Library in London will point you in the right direction.
The next step would be to have a look at some of these magazines so you can get a feel for their style. Some will favour form or rhyme; others will prefer gritty urban poetry; while still others will favour female poets, for example. You need to research the best places for your poetry. And starting small is probably the best way to go to build your name.
You also need to bear in mind that, even when you have found the magazine that you think is perfect for your style, not everyone will love your creative works of art. You need to be prepared for the rejection letter. If you get it you will need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. Getting your work published is not an easy ride!
However, once you have built your confidence with some acceptances, maybe from the smaller magazines, try your luck with the bigger ones. But, again, do your homework - get a feel for the publication to make sure your work fits with what they are looking for. If it doesn't, move on to the next publication.
Get published in anthologies
Anthologies are a great way of getting your work out there, but beware the vanity publisher who promises world domination before even seeing your first poem.
The best way to find publishers is to check the poetry libraries and by being a frequent visitor at your local library. Look through the shelves for anthologies that match your style and then research the publisher. Forward Poetry is one such reputable company (www.forwardpoetry.co.uk). They have given thousands of frustrated poets a platform for their work over the last 20 years.
Enter poetry competitions
Another fab way to get your poetry and name known is with competitions. Keep your eyes peeled and you will see these advertised in libraries, supermarkets, underground stations, bus stations etc. There is normally an entry fee of around £5, but winners of prestigious competitions often go on to be well-known names.
There is a good poetry competition which is free to enter: Poetry Rivals, and there is a publishing contract up for grabs for the winner.
Make a list of the poems you would like to see in print - carefully choosing the ones that represent you and your style in the best way. Then, note the title and date it was written in a note pad or on a sheet of paper and, each time you send a copy somewhere, make a note of where it is going and the date you sent it. When you get a response, note that alongside too.
It is fine to send your work out to magazines simultaneously. If, however, you are lucky enough to be accepted in more than one, you will need to decide which one means more to you and benefits you more in the long run, as the bigger magazines will not take kindly to the poem they want to use being published elsewhere. You will need to withdraw from one or the other.
Join writers groups
Writers groups are a great forum for getting your work critiqued and for finding out about avenues for getting published. In the right group, you will be among like-minded people who feel your pain when the rejection slip comes through, but will celebrate with you when you are victorious - regardless of how big or small that victory is.
Make sure though, that you find a group that will be constructive in their criticism, but not damning of a new poet's work. You need to be given constructive criticism, not knocked down over every word you write.
Writers groups are a great way of finding out about competitions, readings and other platforms for your work.
A great way to get your poetry out there is to self publish. If you would like advice on this please contact Proprint, they can take you through all the stages of self publishing and can also offer you a marketing guide to help you get the sales.
For a complete guide on how to get your poetry published, take a look at Publishing Poetry - The Essential Guide by Kenneth Steven