Poets notoriously have a hard time gaining traction and establishing themselves; we’re called starving artists for a reason. Even wildly successful writers rarely have their name recognized outside of literary circles. School curriculums have also taken a nosedive when it comes to poetic appreciation; my daughter brought Katy Perry lyrics home as part of her poetry unit in 5th grade. Good thing we have technology.
I can usually put poets in one of two categories. There are deeply introverted individuals who write from an intricate mesh of feelings and experiences and then there are the highly extroverted, bubbly, ‘listen to what I just wrote’ poets. Of course, I’ve come across several who go through short bouts of enthusiasm only to withdraw back into solitude where they can write in peace. The internet is the perfect place for either type or those who swing back and both.
With so many literary journals, forums, and e-venues available, there is no reason for anyone who really wants to be published, not to be. I’ve always loved the saying, “If you shoot for the moon, even if you miss you land among the stars,” but sometimes missing the moon is depressing. I advise anyone who’s just starting out to test the waters by dipping into some smaller presses. Large literary journals receive so many submissions that even seasoned writers get turned away. Not only will you have better odds at smaller presses but they are often much more tentative and relaxed. By submitting to small journals that are more likely to publish you, your portfolio and confidence will both expand much faster than by waiting six months to receive a rejection letter.
Or maybe you’ve already built up a portfolio but still aren’t getting noticed. I’m going to ask you a really hard question, are you ready? Name three things you do to support other artists? Do you…
- Read other people’s poetry books
- Comment on their blogs
- Congratulate them on their successes
- Go to book signings
- Show up at open mics
- Offer feedback
- Collaborate with other writers
Remember earlier when I said, “Even wildly successful writers rarely have their name recognized outside of literary circles?” Our audience consists primarily of our peers so if we aren’t showing up to support the people fighting the same fight, we’re doomed to failure. I interviewed spoken word artist “Krystle Wit A E” yesterday over the phone and I asked her how she feels she has grown the most as an artist. She responded, “I’ve learned to be present and really listen. I take notes, I learn from other performers. Sometimes it’s hard! I may be going up next and I get my nerves going. Learning to be present is the best way to grow as an artist.” Listen, putting a spotlight on someone else doesn’t make you shine any less.
I recently started a new e-venue called Featured Poet. I wanted to offer something a little different than other publishers. We ask for a 300-500 word bio that talks about you the poetic genius that’s putting all your heart into 20 lines then sending it out into the world. We shine the spotlight on the poet, not just their poems. The writer can talk about past achievements, upcoming books, projects they want to collaborate with someone on, what motivates them to write or their cats if they really want. Then we post their bio, poem, photos and/or videos on our website and social media platforms. We encourage submitters to include links to books, blogs, and Facebook pages.
We are just starting out, our launch was on August 1, 2016 but I have been absolutely amazed at both the quality and quantity of submissions. About a month before we did the launch I desperately wrote to all my friends asking them to please submit because I was so afraid it was going to bomb. I was hoping I could scrape together enough interest to feature a poet a week. It hasn’t even been a week yet and we have one poet a day lined up for months, interviews scheduled with some of the top spoken word artists in the U.S., and have received submissions from over 20 different countries!
I asked myself why this was so much more successful than other blogs or websites I have created and I think the answer is community. We are a community of writers who have an enormous amount of talent, we just need to network. I love, love, love when I see previously or soon-to-be Featured Poets congratulating each other on new publications, friending each other, and sharing each other’s articles. It only takes a second to acknowledge someone else’s success and you know what? They’ll remember it. They’ll be the first one to congratulate you when you celebrate your own successes.
It’s also the perfect venue for both introverts and extroverts. You can share the hell out of your featured spot or leave the heavy lifting to us (although, the more you contribute the more successful it will be).
If you would like to be featured on Featured Poet submit the following:
- 300-500 word bio
- At least 1 photo (we accept newer poets but ask you submit extra photos to help fill the space)
- 1-3 poems ( how many we publish will be based on space)
- Optional: links to blogs, books, videos, social media pages, open mics, classes, or workshops that you would like to appear on Featured Poet.
We are also conducting interviews with emcees, editors, teachers, and venue hosts. For complete submission guidelines visit http://featuredpoet.com/submissions.
Do you have something say about poetry? An essay on being a poet, tips for poets, or poetry you love? TrishHopkinson.com is now accepting pitches for guest blog posts.
Katie Kahn lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with her husband and children. In addition to poetry she also writes several blogs, volunteers teaching creative writing and journaling techniques to adults living with mental illness, and writes children’s books. She’s most passionate about poetry, social reform, and food. Her poems have appeared in Linden Avenue, Topology, The Longleaf Pine, Blackwater Review, Broken Publications, Diverse Voices Quarterly, The Barefoot Review, Rising Phoenix Press, Poetry Breakfast, Chaotic Review, Multiracial Media, Pure Slush, BLYNKT, and various blogs. Kahn won the Blackwater Review’s Editor’s Prize in 2012 and 2014. She and her 11-year-old daughter have written a children’s book series called, World Adventures, focusing on the acceptance of other cultures. Kahn’s first poetry collection titled, “Phantom Limbs,” was released in 2014. She currently has four other collections out mingling with editors, hoping to be adopted.
If you’d like to contact Katie, she checks her email, even in her sleep firstname.lastname@example.org.