Friday, February 15, 2008

Poetry Tips: I ask you...

I am asking you, poets and poetry readers, to help come up with some tips! I’m looking for answers to these particular questions:

1. How can you support living poets?

2. What are some tips for reading poetry?

3. How do you seek out inspiration?

4. What are the appropriate steps to take when submitting poems?

5. How do you keep submitting after many rejections?

I am hoping to do a series including these above questions as subject lines and I am hoping my regulars and new visitors will be so kind as to e-mail an answer to any of these questions. I will quote you directly, please use one of these questions in your subject line and I hopefully will get enough responses to warrant posting the tips you provide about a month from now. This way you have time to come up with some answers. Thanks so much! Remember to e-mail any answers to poethoundblogspotATyahooDOTcom…

6 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

1. How can you support living poets?

I think one of the best ways is through blogs that discuss and demystify poetry. There are so many approaches to poetry that it can become overpowering for a new poet. How do you find your own voice? How do you know you're doing it right? What's right?

2. What are some tips for reading poetry?

Persist. If you don't like one poet's style then look for another.

3. How do you seek out inspiration?

I don't. It seeks me out. If I don't have any then I write without it. It's nice to have it but it's not essential.

4. What are the appropriate steps to take when submitting poems?

Make sure you read the guidelines thoroughly. Some sites are very fussy. Always keep a record of what you've sent and when (and also how long you can expect to wait for a reply).

5. How do you keep submitting after many rejections?

I've been receiving rejections for thirty-five years and it never gets easy. The bottom line is: grow a think skin and grow it quickly. Most of the time it is not personal. There are so many places to submit that if what you write doesn’t suit on then try somewhere else. I make a point of keeping a large number of poems and stories out there. Once I get a few replies back I send a few more out normally at the end of each month.

Poet Hound said...

Thanks Jim! I hope more brave souls offer up replies.

Cailleach said...

1. How can you support living poets?

Buy their books/chapbooks, go to their readings, get to know them. Read their blogs if they have one. Converse with them. They're people just like you and will probably offer you some insight that will prove useful.

2. What are some tips for reading poetry?

Read it out loud. Discuss it with poetry mad friends/colleagues. Maybe read more of that person's work. If it doesn't do it for you, try someone else. But you usually get in after a while of trying (took me ages to get into T. S. Eliot and then some).

3. How do you seek out inspiration?

Er. I was told 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. And that's pretty much true. Keep on writing and working at stuff and you get better at writing better stuff. No big secret. Writing is like a muscle that you tone through use - though watch out for RSI. ;)

4. What are the appropriate steps to take when submitting poems?

What Jim said. Pay attention to what you're supposed to do and be very thorough with that last proofread. And then do it again.

5. How do you keep submitting after many rejections?

Remember it's the work, not you. Look for a sympathetic editor - i.e. one who publishes work similiar to yours. Do workshops regularly to keep honing and sharpening your critical eye. You do get lucky eventually and one thing leads to another.

Poet Hound said...

Thank you so much for responding! I've copied and pasted your comments along with Jim's so I can post each question one Friday at a time with answers from all of you who take the time to answer them.

Ben Wilkinson said...

Mine are in the Poet Hound inbox.

Matt Merritt said...

1. Above all, by buying their books and chapbooks and by attending their readings. Blogs seem to me to have a great role to play, too, especially for poets who don’t have access to the support networks (workshops, reading venues, etc) that are available in larger cities.

2. To start with, probably just to read everything and anything you can get your hands on, so that you can sort out your likes and dislikes. You can be more selective as you go along. I’ve also found that it’s fairly easy to find pretty recent poetry releases very cheap in secondhand and remainder bookshops, which lets you take a gamble on books you might otherwise think twice about. Above all, keep an open mind.

3. I honestly don’t. My problem is generally not having the time to write as much as I’d like. Of course, a lot of the time, what I thought initially were flashes of inspiration turn out to be nothing of the kind, but even so, I’m not usually at a loss for starting points. Nowadays I tend to let flashes of inspiration rattle round my head for a while, then note them down, then a little later again start work on turning them into poems. That way, it gives time for what seemed like quite different pieces of inspiration to start to gravitate towards each other.

4. Just to read the guidelines very carefully and stick to them, and to keep track of where all your submissions are. And above all, proof-read very carefully (if you can stand it, let someone else proof the poems too). I’ve never edited a poetry mag, but I have worked in publishing for years, and nothing gets a submission rejected quicker than sloppy or lazy presentation.

5. Don’t take it personally, and give rejected poems another chance or two, usually at quite different mags. With my chapbook, the two most popular poems were ones that had been rejected by mags, so you just have to remember that different poems will appeal to different tastes.