Newspapers, Newsletters And Readings Are Opportunities For A New Poet: Reach Out

Category: Publish Your Poetry

Newspapers, Newsletters And Readings Are Opportunities For A New Poet: Reach Out. To promote your writing, you must try to become known at home as well as nationally or internationally.

Ways to Publish Poetry
This Article Is Part FOUR Of A Series
by Don J. Carlson


If you want to promote your writing, you must try to become known at home as well as nationally or internationally. Until you try you won’t know whether your natural readership is the home crowd or a distant one. If you have time to spend promoting your work, definitely examine the local options. Newspapers look for poetry as filler. They have to fill every column every day. They must have a great amount of material that is flexible enough to fit any given blank spot in the page as it is being made up. Read the poems published in your local paper to see what the editor seems to prefer. Don’t assume that he has no wider latitude than what you have seen in print, but be careful about going too far afield.

There are many businesses who have small newsletters in your town. If you have a lot of writing that you think could have popular appeal to their readers, go to such businesses and meet their newsletter editors. Take some samples of your work with you. If you get accepted by one of these newsletters, learn more about their business and try to write a few poems specifically for them. Don’t be too disappointed if they don’t see the value in all of them. Always think a little about the rejections you receive and reexamine your first assumptions about the publisher.

To get yourself prepared to do readings, first try to find a group of poets who meet to read their poems to each other. There may be a poetry club at a local school or college. Check to see if guests are welcome at their meetings. Start by reading one or two poems at a meeting and listening to the readings and comments by the other participants. If you can become accepted at such an organization, you may find that reading opportunities will come along with your participation.

Offer to do readings locally at schools, colleges, senior centers, civic clubs and churches. When you think you are ready to start doing readings, select a group of poems you think is appropriate for each type of audience and read in front of a mirror. When you are ready, go to a school for example and take a sample of ten poems along. Talk to the principal about what teachers he/she thinks might be interested, or ask to visit with teachers of communications skills or English, then meet the teachers one at a time.

At the senior center, talk with the activity director about your interest and willingness to provide a presentation of poetry. Pay is likely to be low or none for such an event; but the experience of seeing the response of mature people to your poetry is of great value. Nursing homes are another option that may be even more demanding as there is a wider range of responses. Some people may seem completely unresponsive until you have finished and then surprise you with a favorable response. Residents may not waste their energy applauding, but will willingly tell you their impressions later. After you have finished, go around and talk with each of the residents who attended.

If your poetry is ready for readings at colleges or junior colleges you may find a varied response from the students, but better pay, as colleges have budgets for such activities. You may read in a noisy lunchroom or an assembly hall. The pay may be the same for both.

If you want to do poetry reading and writing workshops, check your state arts commission. They may subsidize your presentations by matching funds so you can charge the school or city arts center less, and still earn the same amount for your presentation. If your city has an arts center or an adult education center you may be able to affiliate with it.

© 1999 Don J. Carlson