Writing Poetry and a Poetry Contest Warning.

If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing a poem, it’s going to be average”
Derek Walcott

When I write a poem it usually starts with an image I can’t get out of my head. It might be a small thing a postcard I find at a flea market that reads “will you marry me?” but was never mailed or my Nana’s religious relics I found when cleaning out a drawer. That’s my Nana in my header on the left hand side. She was a teacher and a school principal and she has inspired many of my poems. You can read Relics under My Work on the Web if you’re interested. Anyhow, any of my good poems evolved from a small thing. The average ones never see the light of day. Although I may pick them apart and glean a line or two for another poem so nothing is wasted. As well as writing every day, I read a poem every day. Poetry shows me how to write tight. Every word must be the right word or it must go. How do you start a poem? Is it a word or an image or a line from a song that inspires you?

If you love poetry and writing poetry you may enter a lot of poetry contests. This is my poetry contest warning post. Although I think everyone knows about vanity presses I still meet people who have paid between $45-150 to have their work published. Don’t fall for it. Unless of course you can’t wait to see your name in print. In that case I would say self-publish a poetry book. As you know I am a big fan of Duotrope and Poetry Contest Insider. Also I regularly use the Writer’s Market Poetry book. There are many scam poetry contests online; while I occasionally enter poetry contests that charge a small fee I usually enter fee-free contests. I’m a poet, I don’t make money writing poetry why would I pay $10 entry fee when the winning prize is $30?

Today, find three legitimate poetry markets and enter your work. I’m a big fan of Mattia, a Canadian family who runs a great contest every year with no entry fee. Now get back to work!

The Writing Nag

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