poetry: tools, inspiration, and moving forward

Good morning fellow WordPressers and lovers of poetry, words, stories, and images! I thought I’d share some tips and tools to help along your literary path. (Please note that some of these resources are specific to Ontario and/or Canada. Please check your local art councils.)

There are many resources for aspiring artists in every artistic domain. It’s tough to figure out where to start but how about inspiration as the first step? A friend of mine, Damian Rogers, who co-organized, New Constellations Tour, has an online poetry workshop which is weekly and, it’s free. It’s called, I Woke Up Today, and it’s hosted on Poetry in Voice. Check it out and maybe it’s something that might inspire or lead you towards your poetry goals.

A few other great resources that I use for inspiration and learning are the following links. If you want to refine your craft keep learning and researching.

Check out your local libraries for writing groups (ie: OPL). If there isn’t one make a suggestion to your library to start one. Writing groups will help to bounce your poems off other writers and get feedback. Your style and voice will develop much further with constructive feedback.

Now, what about moving forward with your writing?

If your dream is to get published in book form, here’s a tidbit of advice I’ve received since the beginning. Start submitting to literary magazines and anthologies. When you start submitting your poetry to get published you start building a writing portfolio and publishing credits. This step is important towards getting a book of poetry published because most publishers want to see a track record. There are plenty of places you can submit to. Be sure to look at submission guidelines as each publisher is different and research local magazines and papers.

And, look for opportunities to share your poetry in front of an audience. Scary thought, isn’t it? It’s the best way forward though. When you start reading your poetry in front of people, you start thinking about your poetry in a different way. In fact, every poem is best served if you read it aloud. Think about word choices, flow, rhythm, and cadence. Have fun with the words that you string together to create wonderful poetry! One word of advice is to choose where you’re going to share your poetry. What’s the audience? Who’s the organizer? Is there a theme? Go to an event before you decide to give a shot. If you don’t write slam poetry, it’s probably not the best bet to go and read a poem there.

I mentioned writing groups previously. There’s also writing workshops or retreats. My favourite place to go is Banff Centre for the Arts. There are self-guided retreats and also workshops/retreats that you can apply to as they are theme specific. When it comes to workshops and retreats there are costs associated with it. Some have scholarships that you can apply to and some are fully funded. And there are many where participants have to pay the full amount. But don’t let this discourage you. Think of it as an investment in yourself. Always invest in yourself, whatever it is! The takeaway is being in a group of other writers in a workshop style so that you can hone your craft and get feedback and coaching from professional writers. Also, you acquire writing mentors and a new network or writers that will potentially lead to a wider world of publishing possibilities.

If you already have a manuscript and want to get it published where do you go? Before you run out and start submitting it, have you workshopped it with another writer or a few other writers who’ve been published or who are experienced editors? Believe me, it’s important. If you’ve passed it by a friend or relative and they’ve said, “It’s amazing, I love it”. It’s not enough. It’s good for your ego and helps you to keep writing. But, it’s not likely going to give you the critical and constructive feedback that your manuscript will need. It takes time and rewriting, and editing leads to better writing, style, and voice.

Okay, so you’ve done that. Manuscript ready. Check that off!! Now where to publish? Try Google or your favourite web browser. Research publishers and what they publish and if they are accepting unsolicited manuscripts. What does that mean? Well it means, anyone can submit their manuscript for consideration. Mind you, it will take 6 months or longer. So in this world of instant gratification, you’re gonna be in a world of hurt for a while. I guess that’s why there’s Vanity Publishing or self-publishing and E-book. And to be honest, if you want to publish your book no matter the personal cost, it might be the best bet. When it comes down to it, you will still want to put forward your best quality of poems so that you can market and sell books whatever form you choose.

To re-cap: hone your craft through joining writing groups, research and reading poetry, rewrite and edit your poetry, and submit and share your poetry.

Poetry is a tool to connect with others. It brings our humanity to the forefront. It leads us to many ways to connect to the world around us. Poetry is everywhere even in the voices we hear every day like those Crows and Ravens I mentioned at the beginning. I hear them every day and every time they speak, they tell different stories. Like today, they say spring is coming! So get up and get out and smell the spring air. Which smells like poop in my neighborhood! There’s a poem in there somewhere, I’m sure of it.


Happy writing all. Keep creating and sharing your voice!