Opportunities in Poetry from Rachel Hadas

This is a reposting from an earlier version of this site, but still very good info.  This spring, I decided to spend some time with Dr. Hadas, a great resource within the MFA program and a long-time poetry professor here at Rutgers-Newark. We had an informal conversation, and I decided to put some of the information I’ve gathered on the blog covering the different subjects we touched on.

The majority of this posting covers publishing resources, but please read to the end for comments on other aspects of the writing life.

On Publishing

The best advice for finding a place to publish poetry is to simply read periodicals, see what you like and where you would like to publish. Of course, online journals are very widespread, but there are still many places that do not have an online presence, so those take careful reading. When considering online journals, look to see if they: (1) solicit, (2) pay, (3) have an outside reputation.

The following list of resources was generated by Rachel Hadas, and are followed by short descriptions.

Venues for publishing

slate.com: this famous news commentary and opinion site also has a robust arts section, and publishes original poetry.

percontra.net: this site features both poetry, short stories, and flash fiction. Also features Rachel Hadas in the current issue!

The College Hill Review: this online quarterly is based out of New Jersey, and features reviews, fiction, and poetry.

ablemuse.com: publishing non-fiction, fiction, poetry and prose, this site is an extensive resource, and organizes its work with “start pages” that introduce you to each featured author. This site also includes video and audio files for featured authors.

eratosphere: this site, associated with ablemuse.com, is a workshop for people interested in issues around mastery in writing. It is organized as a forum, and is generally an information sharing site.

Organizations for Poets

Poets.org: This website, run by the American Academy of Poets, is a wonderful database of poets and their work.

Poets House: Poets House is an organization dedicated to promoting poetry as a live and practiced art. It is a resource for those who write and those who love poetry, and has one of the most extensive libraries of poetry books in the United States.

Poetry Society of America: This society promotes poetry within the US, and is responsible for such projects as PoetryInMotion, the initiative to publish poetry in New York City subways, the CrossRoads Journal, and many outreach activities in New York.

Also, it’s important to realize that “nothing necessarily leads to anything.” You may think that because you have published one book, it will be easy to get a poem published, or another poem published, but this is not the case. You have to be diligent and just keep trying.

This advice is suitable for both poets and fiction writers: diversify your portfolio! There is no reason poets can’t write essays, or book reviews. It helps a lot to be able to publish in different mediums. It also helps to think more broadly about what you want to do, because it is a very creative time, and you can be very independent in making your career decisions.

On Networking

Networking can work on all different levels. Some people enjoy national conferences that are all about meeting people, and workshops that are designed for people to meet one another. Book parties can be a less pressured environment to meet other writers. The point is to find what works for you. There is no need to make networking a full-time job.

On Teaching

When I went to pursue my Ph.D., I was worried that it might distract me from my writing and my creative process. It turned out that I didn’t have anything to worry about, and that I was able to be productive throughout. Most of us entering MFA programs do have an interest in teaching, and there are a lot of options, both at the secondary and post-secondary level.

On Artist’s Colonies

Artist’s colonies are mostly important because of the space and time that they give you. They can be good for your career as well, but the most important thing should be about what they allow you to do creatively. It can be hard to arrange spending time at a colony if you have a family, but if you have supportive people around you, it can be done.

On Writer’s Communities

There are tons of different ways in which writers gather together to support and inspire each other. New York obviously has a host of resources, but smaller communities have their own advantages. In spite of the growth of the World Wide Web, interlocking networks of writers sharing resources have developed all over the place, and a certain amount of regionalism is still inherent—which is not a bad thing at all. The last piece of advice that Dr. Hadas stressed is that you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to your professors! Perhaps the best resources are not going to be found in any online searching, but in the people that you keep around you. Every writer develops in his/her own way, and there are limitless opportunities out there, and there is no “typical” path for a writer.

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