Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hickory Poet How-To, Part II


So last time we discussed the advantages for the would-be poet in Hickory to read, write, follow this column, attend Poetry Hickory, and take a class. If you missed that column, you can read it at Today we’ll continue with a few more tips on how a poet in Hickory can “get started and keep going.”

6. Join the Club. Since 1932 the North Carolina Poetry Society has facilitated networking and development of poets across the state, bringing them together at least three times a year for annual meetings at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines, coordinating annual contests in 14 categories, publishing an annual anthology of NC poems, distributing a monthly newsletter, maintaining an online calendar of poetry events, and sponsoring a series of workshops with established poets across the state. Information on “joining the club,” is available at the Society’s website at An even larger resource for both poets and other writers is the North Carolina Writers’ Network. NCWN sponsors two annual conferences which feature nationally renowned guest speakers, workshops, classes, and readings. They also distribute weekly updates on opportunities for writers. Their website is Beyond the state level the two most significant poetry organizations are Associated Writing Programs ( and the Academy of American Poets (

7. Network. Joining poetry support organizations and attending classes and readings will give the poet the chance to meet writers, editors, publishers and others interested in poetry, but many of those activities are not scheduled more than once a month or last only a short period of time. As with any vocation or avocation, the practitioner may need more frequent interaction with others to keep them motivated and to provide the connections necessary for continued development and success. Virtually every poet I know has a facebook page and is connected through that medium to dozens of other poets, editors, publishers, and readers with similar interests or backgrounds. Many poets also maintain blogs. Visiting these blogs provides information, ideas, and the possibility of “joining the discussion” about poetry.

8. Join or Form a Group. Very few, if any, writers create in a vacuum. Most writers have at least one trusted colleague who reviews their material before the writer sends it out for publication. Many writers belong to critique groups who share their work with each other and discuss ways of improving it. Virtually every creative writing class I have ever taught has resulted in the formation of at least one such group as those students who connected with each other in the class look to keep the energy they’ve developed together going.

9. Understand that the biggest part of writing is rewriting. I never stop revising a poem. In fact, many of my best revisions came after the poem was published. Most of the poets I know are similar in their practices. For most writers inspiration is at best only the beginning, and at worst a fallacy.

10. Submit. When you’re ready, when you think your work is good enough, and your will is strong enough to withstand rejection after rejection, send your poems out for publication. If you have been networking, then you probably know the editors of several journals fairly well by now. Start with them. That way you’ll know that it will be the editor and not a graduate assistant who reads them, and you’ll be more likely to at least get a personal note back perhaps even with suggestions on how to make the poem better suited to that particular journal.

There is a lot more to know about the submission process, but we’ll save that for the next column. Come back in two weeks for more.

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