To get your poetry published requires more than writing a poem because you want to capture a feeling that you experienced. To further your writing you need to draw on the established conventions of the literary genre of poetry and generate an emotional response in your reader.
Reading contemporary poetry and studying what poetry is all about are essential for your road to publication. Trawl the internet for poems by your favourite poets, borrow their books from libraries and if your library network doesn’t house them, buy modern Australian Anthologies or books of poems by poets whose style you think is similar to yours.
In relation to studying the art of poetry, here are a few books that I’ve found very useful (I’ve listed the editions I own):
To learn about the established conventions and how to write a poem:
· Mary Oliver, “A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry”, Orlando, Harcourt Books, 1994.
· Frances Mayes, “The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems”, Orlando, Harcourt Books, 2001.
· Ron Pretty, “Creating Poetry”, Wollongong, Five Islands Press, 2001.
· Philip, Davies & Roberts, “How Poetry Works”, London, Penguin Books, 1991.
To take form to the next level:
· Robert Hass, “A Little Book of Form: Exploration into the Formal Imagination of Poetry”, New York, Harper Collins, 2017.
To learn how to read a poem to help you write a poem:
· Edward Hirsch, “How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry”, San Diego, Harcourt, 1999.
· Ruth Patel, “52 Ways of Looking at a Poem: A Poem for Every Week of the Year”, London, Vintage, 2002.
In my experience, a good way for emerging poets to be published is to enter the many competitions that are run each year. For example, I first entered the Poetica Christie Press Annual Competition in 2012 and had my first poem published in their Anthology “ Taking Flight” in 2013, Janette Fernando (editor); and, I’ve been published by Poetica Christie Press almost every year since https://poeticachristi.org.au/. Recently I’ve been advised that my poem “I Saw the Delphic Oracle” is to be published in the Heroines Anthology in September, 2018, and that poem was sent to Neo-Perennial Press in response to their call for submissions (more about that another time).
So, how do you find out about poetry competitions? I’m a Sydney-based writer and the two main sources I’ve found helpful are:
· the weekly e-magazine from Writing NSW (previously the NSW Writers’ Centre) https://writingnsw.org.au/ and,
· The Australian Poetry Journal https://apj.australianpoetry.org
Every State has a Writers’ Centre but if you're out of NSW you can still go on their email list. Subscription to The Australian Poetry Journal is not expensive and worth it.
Another way to be published is to submit to magazines/journals/publishers that publish poetry. In June 2017, poet and writer Alys Jackson published a list of 33 Australian publications that accept poetry for publication. See https://alysjackson.com/submitting-poetry-magazines-journals-australia/
Before you send off your poem/s however, there are a few things to check. Next Blog I’ll talk about what Australian poet Brooke Emery says a poet ought to check before hitting send.