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Improve the Odds of Getting Your Poetry Published

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February 2011
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If you want to get your poetry published, you first need to write interesting poetry. You also want to be able to write poetry that evokes an emotional response and reveals a truth about the human condition or a life experience. And since almost all modern and contemporary poetry is written in free verse, you want to be able to learn this form. Essentially, there are no rules. However, if you want to improve the odds of getting published, you must learn how the “Great” modern and contemporary poets have constructed free verse poems that have been published.

The following are 12 suggestions on how you can improve the odds of getting your poetry published:

  1.  Read poetry of published poets. A good place to begin is by reading the poems of the great poets, such as Robert Frost, Charles Simic, and Billy Collins. A very good place to start reading great poetry is at the Poetry Foundation ( ) or at the Academy of American Poets (
  2. Write a poem on a regular basis. Ideally, you want to write a poem each day. On the other hand, if you don’t have time, try to write a poem every week. In a single year, you will have written 52 poems.
  3. Learn how to use the various poetic devices, such as simile, metaphor, alliteration, symbolism, line break, stanza, personification, rhyme and rhythm, and more.
  4. Analyze published poetry. Learn how it was composed. The stanza? Line break? Poetic devices?
  5.  Read books on how to write poetry. Two excellent short text books are “Writing the Life Poetic” and “In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poets Portable Workshop.”
  6. Write about what interests you. You can write about anything, from death, to divorce, to suicide, to war.
  7. Write about what you are passionate about.
  8. Write about what you observe or experience in your daily life. For instance, I wrote a poem about aging. It was based my experience of people who are growing old. I focused on using line break, simile, metaphor, and irony. Here is the poem I wrote in a couple of hours: 

The Golden Years

by Dave Hood

You phone your elderly mother
who shares her aches and pains,
She tells you about
 the memories of a marriage gone sour,
and lonely days alone
in her three bedroom mausoleum,
like someone who has lost the zest for living.
You visit your aged, bed-ridden father
in a nursing home that smells
like an unflushed toilet.
He opens his sad eyes
as you arrive in the room,
shares his regrets of lifetime,
and tells you he wants to die.
You go to bed wondering why
your parents have lost the taste for life.
You fall asleep contemplating the “Golden Years.”

9. Revise your work. After you have written the poem, put it away for a few days. And then reread your poetry again. After each reading, revise your poem for a different poetic device. For instance, on the first reading, revise for alliteration. On the next reading, revise for line break. On the next reading, revise for simile….

10. Share your work with friends and family. Your goal is to get feedback, which you can use to revise your work.

11. Setup and maintain a blog of your poetry. It is a great way to keep track, revise your work from anywhere, and share your poetry with the world. A good place to start is by setting up a blog at .

12. Submit your poetry to both print-based publications and Online publications. http First, you need to find a publication. Start by picking up a copy of the Poets Market ( ). Next, check out the list of online publishers ( ) that accept poetry submission.

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