What to do with All That Poetry
Once you have started writing, the question arises: What can I do with all this poetry?
Here are some of the things that I have done with my poetry.
1. a poetry blog
2. publication in literary journals
3. archived in poetry binders
4. self-published in books
5. combined poetry with other art forms
Creating A Poetry Blog
There is literally a ton of info on the web, about creating a poetry blog. I used Google's Blogger (www.blogger.com ... Create a unique and beautiful blog. It's easy.) It walked me through the process and couldn't be more user friendly ... And it allowed me to customize my blog. Bear in mind –when you are setting up your blog – that you can change just about everything (the font, the colour, pictures, etc.) but the one thing that is trickier to change is the set-up. If you want your poems to appear with a space in between, then pick a template with a space in between. If you want your blog to have columns on both sides of the main page (in which you can add additional content) then that is the template to go with. Some of these features can be altered, but that is much more complicated once lines of poetry have been entered (without affecting their line breaks and spacing). If you want to illustrate the poems on your blog – and are not into photography – there are many websites that offer memberships and even free photos. (Watch out for copyrights.)
Once you have set up a poetry blog, you can begin sharing your work with other poets, on line, through poetry forums. There are many of them and I have only tried a couple. I would suggest that you goggle 'Poetry Forums' and begin checking them out to see what works best for you. My experience has been that these are very poet-friendly sites ... with a community feel.
Publishing in Literary Journals
Getting published by poetry publishers is very, very hard ... regardless of whether or not you are submitting to an on-line poetry journal or a hard copy journal. I recently heard back from a publisher that had asked for submissions of one poem-per-poet. I was rejected, of course, but I took solace in the fact that so were the 5,538 'other' poets.
An organized approach can help. I once believed that volume-volume-volume was a good strategy, but (at least in my case) I have not found that to be very effective. That said, it really does make a difference if you put in the time, and read the kind of poetry that a potential publisher publishes. If it doesn't sound like a fit to your work, it won't be published.
I have found themed anthologies, or journals with a themed prompt, offer a much better chance of success. Also, new publishers (who do not have 20 years of email subscribers) are less overwhelmed with submissions. Poetry societies that are supported by membership fees usually guarantee inclusion of at least one piece (though they ask for several to choose from).
Smaller pieces, such as Japanese and other, often niche, small-form poems, have several publication vehicles and include more pieces (therefore, much more publishing opportunity) in their hard copy and e-zine offerings. I have noted some of these publications in my article on 'Information and Links for Writing Short Poems'. Occasionally a poetry forum will put together an anthology from poems that have appeared on their site.
Archiving Your Poetry
Storing your poetry in binders is a good option. Because of its movable pages, a binder is a good organizational device ... as well as, preserving your work. I especially like binders because:
I like the flexibility to be able to rejig pieces that I don't feel are quite ready for publication.
I like to be able to move pages around, so that similar themed poems are facing each other and I get a good idea of how a book would lay out, when published.
I like to be able to include small coloured photographs, pertinent emails and comments and personal notes (i.e. "I wrote this poem the last night we spent at the lake") that might give more meaning to the poem for others, as they come upon them.
In a way, I guess, I think of my poetry binders almost like a journal of my poetry journey. Several on-line companies allow you to personalize your binder covers – and that makes them quite special. Here's one of my binders.
A binder with a clear window cover (that you can fill yourself) is a cheaper option that can still be quite lovely. I also am a big fan of clear sheet protectors. If you opt not to use them, you'll have to 3-hole punch your page, and that, with any pieces you may have taped to it, can quickly take on a tattered, messy appearance. I use double-sided tape (as many glues eventually dry, discolour and leach through the paper). I also insert thin card stock sheets between the pages of poetry. It just gives a nicer feel to what would, otherwise, be very wobbly pages. All of these supplies can be found at any office supply store.
Before filling your binder, you should decide how you want to organize it: chronologically (which has its pros and cons), by subject matter (such as nature, for example) or perhaps (as I did) by my favourites (my 2 pink floral binders house the poems that mean the most to me (and here, movable pages really pay off, as time goes by).
I think the main idea is that the poetry that you are most happy with, proud of, and that says something about who you are, should be archived in a special way and not left to languish amongst the do-overs ... or worse: can't be found at all. However you choose to archive your poetry, it should clearly indicate that it is poetry ... and not just a box (or binder) of papers.
Self-publishing in Books
Self-publishing poetry has a centuries long history, dating back to chapbooks in the 16th century (when printing first became affordable) ... and remains a legitimate, viable option – and (going by what poets have shared with me) a very positive experience. There are several self-publising companies out there (though I have yet to find one in Canada) that offer a choice of layouts and templates, hard or soft covers and bindings – at an affordable price. I have heard good things about Lulu and 48 Hour Books.
Combined with other Art Forms
Poetry can be combined with photography, art work and film. Shorter poems often work best for this but – in the case of videos – larger pieces can be broken into smaller segments (if shown in print) or read aloud. You can find examples of these approaches in the videos we enjoyed making and have posted to this site. Check out Patrick's post of "Top 5 Websites for Content Producers' as a resource to your video projects.
The bottom line is: Don't just binge watch your way through COVID 19. Have fun creating!