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poem to publication:
“If there is a
deadline, meet it. If the guidelines indicate they only accept work
from previously published poets, believe them. If you don’t follow
the rules, you are wasting your time and your stamps.”
— Paula Sanders McCarron
By Paula Sanders McCarron
You’ve filled several notebooks with your poems and even dared to
show a few to friends. Now you’re hoping to see your work in a literary
journal, magazine or book.
But where to begin?
1. Read your work aloud. Gather a few friends to listen
as you read eight or so poems aloud. Better yet, participate in an open
mic event. You’ll gain a good sense of which poems resound with
your listeners and which ones land with a thud. Their reactions can
be a helpful guide in choosing which poems to submit for publication.
2 Follow the rules. No matter how wonderful your sonnet
is, it won’t be published in a journal that publishes nothing
but haiku. If there is a deadline, meet it. If the guidelines indicate
they only accept work from previously published poets, believe them. If
you don’t follow the rules, you are wasting your time and your stamps.
3. Research. Browse Poet’s
Market or look online for submission guidelines. Pick up a copy of
Writer’s Digest or Poets & Writers at the library or bookstore.
Scan the weekly Creative Opportunities listing in the Anchorage Daily
News (Fridays). Ask people to let you know if they come across
magazines or journals that publish poetry.
4. Beat the rejection blues. A writing friend once told
me she discovered not only a great way to beat the rejection blues but
also a great way to get published. Here’s how it works. Submit a
batch of poems to one market, and within a month or so, submit another
batch to a different market. Two to three months later, send out a third
batch to yet another market.
Now if the first batch returns with a rejection letter, you’ll likely
feel a pang of disappointment, but you will also have a bit of hope, because
you know you already have two other chances for publication in the
mail. Now, within another couple of weeks, take the rejected poems
from the first mailing and submit them
to another publication.
Keep writing, keep the submissions flowing and soon enough, you’ll
meet your publication goals.
Paula Sanders McCarron, a hospice
worker by trade, grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Anchorage in the
1980s. In addition to helping adults who are living with illness, disability
and the effects of aging, she now writes and publishes poetry, with help
and guidance from mentors she has met locally and online. For more on
Paula, visit her site, [no longer active], which includes a page of Alaska-related
literary links as well as links to some of her recently published works.
UPDATE 12/8/05- Regrettably, Paula's
site appears to be no longer active, and the domain has been purchased
by squatters who are using it to make money on click-through ads. To prevent
them from capitalizing on links to her site, I have removed the name entirely.
If you happen to know a current Web address for Paula, please e-mail me