The Poetry Editor and Poetry: Excellent resources for poets ready to excel

This newly updated list of resources can help you enhance the writing, revising, and submitting of your poems to appropriate poetry journals, anthologies, and e-zines. Once you have placed a number of poems with editors of print or online publications, you’ll be better prepared to approach a publisher of poetry chapbooks or books of poems.

Source: The Poetry Editor and Poetry: Excellent resources for poets ready to excel


After a poetry critique

When a practiced poet or poetry editor critiques your work, the suggestions might seem like you’ve been asked to perform surgery! So what do you do? Outburst into drama? Argue about each comma? Or wonder if people who have never read a poem but claim perfection for their first plops onto paper might be right?

Once you get over the shock of seeing red marks or penciled comments on your poems, these suggestions may help:

Look at each poem. Really look. Does the shape reflect its shape of thought or vision?

Consider each revision as a Re-Vision or fresh way of seeing.

Envision what you want your readers to see. Then experiment.

Read each version of the poem aloud and listen for the tone you like.

Heavily edited poems may need the rhythm restored. If so, recast the lines to find new rhyming pairs.

Or break free of end-line rhymes entirely. How? Just break the lines differently, so rhyming sounds occur randomly or within the lines.

If the critique calls a word choice into question, think about synonyms that clearly say what you meant.

Also, replace a questionable or unclear word with a synonym that increases the sound echoes in the poem. Say, you used a multi-syllabic word that marred the rhythm, so instead of “uncomplicated,” you try “minimal,” “simple,” or “plain.”

The best options for a new word choice depend on the context of the poem, the overall theme, and the surrounding sound echoes you want to emphasize through repetition.

Again and again, read the original poem and each revision aloud to hear which version appeals to your poetic ear and sounds just like you.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. For a professional critique with honest feedback that includes workable suggestions and encouragement of strengths, you’ll find minimal fees and information about what to expect on the Critique Page.


Resolutions for sober poets in the New Year

The word sober means clear-headed, so as you approach the New Year clearly ahead, consider what you hope 2012 will bring for your poetry and your life as a poet. For example, do you want:

A book of poems published by a traditional poetry publisher?

A published chapbook?

The top award in a reputable poetry contest?

A self-published poetry book?

Each of those goals requires some clear-headed thinking. For instance, a book will be more likely to be accepted by an editor if you have 50 to 120 pages of your best poems ready to go to a publisher who publishes that very type of poetry. Similarly, a chapbook will be more likely to place if you have 18 to 24 poems centered on a single theme that interests your potential publisher.

Manuscripts of poems can also be submitted to a contest for books or chapbooks, either of which you can locate in Poets & Writers’ online classifieds. For individual poems prepared to compete, consider entering the international contest sponsored each year by Since I’m one of the judges in that competition though, be sure you do not submit poems I have previously edited or critiqued.

You have more control over the outcome of your goals as a poet if you self-publish, but please, please do not do this until you have gotten a critique or poetry edit.

Regardless of your personal goal as a poet, a New Year’s resolution can re-solve or revisit solutions you believe to be most needed for you and your poetry. So keep on writing. Keep on reading your poems and each revision aloud. Then be soberly honest with yourself as you clearly see where you want you and your poems to head during the coming year.


For additional suggestions from previous months, see these helpful posts:

Sending your poems to poetry journals

Start your New Year with new tools for writing and revising your poems

Line breaks can make or break your poem

Scan a poem. Catch the beat. Change the rhythm as you revise.

Righting haiku and writing syllabic verse

Revising your poetry can be a smooth move.

Three techniques for revising your poems

© 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. God bless you and your New Year!