Guest Blog Posts

Taking the “Po” out of Poetry – guest blog post by Jennifer Brown Banks

Contrary to popular opinion, there are many ways to earn an income for today’s resourceful writer, particularly in the digital age. The “starving artist” image is so ‘80’s! Trust me; I should know. In my long and colorful career as a professional scribe, I’ve pursued darn near all things legal and literary.

In the process, I’ve discovered that one often overlooked genre for making money is poetry. That’s right. Though most of us mere mortals won’t reach the “heights” of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning or perform for the president like Maya Angelou, we can still share our work with broad audiences and be compensated in the process.

According to a recent report by the National Endowment of the Arts, poetry is more popular than ever before. Worth noting here is that “the number of poetry readers in the United States has nearly doubled in the past five years, from 6.7% of American adults in 2012 to nearly 12% in 2017.”

Got poetry? Book That Poet arranges paid performances and workshops for poets across the country, for those listed in their directory. A caveat here: poetry won’t likely pay your monthly mortgage; but it can finance food for the cupboard; keep the lights on; or keep your wine stash well-stocked.

WITH THIS IN MIND, HERE ARE 5 AVENUES FOR EARNING EXTRA CASH WITH YOUR POETRY THIS YEAR:

PUBLIC READINGS

April is officially National Poetry Month. I make it a point to use this special time to pitch local libraries, universities and coffee shops to be added to their special events.

The last time I did, I received $200.00 for reading a few pieces at a fun poetry festival.

You can too.

OPEN MIC COMPETITIONS

With the popularity of “Spoken Word” and performance poetry, many venues host open mic nights (sometimes along with karaoke). Here’s a chance to compete and meet other poets for a modest cash price for the selected evening’s winner.

TEACHING WORKSHOPS

Workshops are often offered at libraries, arts centers, adult continuing education classes and writing clubs. It’s a great opportunity to educate and inspire others who may be interested in learning how to pen poetry, know more about the different styles and forms of poetry, or those who simply enjoy poetry analysis and interpretation.

SELLING BOOKS & GIFT ITEMS

Poetry chapbooks and framed gift items can increase your visibility and your bottom line. They can be sold at local gift shops, vendors fairs and even at family reunions.

It works if you work it.

ONLINE MAGAZINES

There are numerous online publications that now pay for well-crafted poetry.

In May, for example, I sold two pieces to Chicago Writers Association for $70.00, with an additional acceptance for $35.00 to be published in a future edition.

Not bad for about one hour’s work. Wouldn’t you agree?

Chicken Soup for the Soul also offers $200.00 for poems included in their popular anthology.

ADDITIONAL STRATEGIES FOR OPTIMAL SUCCESS

1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Whether submitting poetry to a publication or reading your pieces before a live audience, it’s important to know a little about who they are and their “leanings.” Are they the corporate, conservative type? Will there be children in the mix? For example, I would choose different poems to share for my church events than I would for karaoke night audiences.

2. STUDY THE WORKS OF OTHER TALENTED POETS FROM DIFFERENT ERAS AND WRITING STYLES TO HONE YOUR CRAFT

It will broaden your exposure; help you to learn more about various techniques; and enable you to be more diverse in your expression. I read (and listen to) everything from Browning, to Angelou, to Frost, to modern-day rapper poets. Remember, “verse”-atility allows you to appeal to broader audiences and age groups.

3. WHEN THERE IS FINANCIAL COMPENSATION FOR YOUR WORK, BE SURE TO HAVE THE SPECIFICS OUTLINED IN A WRITTEN CONTRACT

Keep it simple. The agreement doesn’t have to be documented with a multi-paged, complicated contract with a bunch of legal jargon; something as basic as a detailed email where both parties mutually agree on said terms will seal the deal.

IN CONCLUSION…

If you’ve been penning poetry for recreation, it’s time for a paradigm shift.

Follow these timely tips and go from recreation to compensation this year!


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. 

Contact me here if you are interested! 


JENNIFER BROWN BANKS IS A VETERAN FREELANCE WRITER, CONTENT CREATOR, AUTHOR, POET AND AWARD-WINNING BLOGGER.  HER POETRY HAS BEEN FEATURED WIDELY IN ONLINE AND PRINT PUBLICATIONS, WHICH INCLUDE: THE WRITE CITY MAGAZINE, CURBSIDE SPLENDOR, ROLLING OUT, POETIC VOICES AND BEING SINGLE MAGAZINE.

WHEN SHE’S NOT BEING CREATIVE AT THE KEYBOARD, SHE LOVES BEING CREATIVE IN THE KITCHEN.

VISIT HER “TOP BLOG FOR WRITERS” @: https://penandprosper.blogspot.com/

6 replies »

  1. The situation is different for formal poetry since so many ‘Zines run prose poems or free verse. “Doesn’t fit” or “not for us” are about the most uses phrases in the rejection comment. I see a bright side to this situation. Years ago metrical brought boos, but at my poetry group and recent readings I received applause. The poetry community is more accepting of rhyme and meter poetry, and I think this attitude will carry over to publishing.

    Liked by 1 person

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