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Poetry
What Am I Doing Wrong?
By Stan Grimes
September, 2007, 11:59

Pouting over rejection is not useful, but these four tips may help get you published.
Having any kind of literary creation rejected by a publisher can be disheartening. Even though they say it's nothing personal, it sure feels that way, doesn’t it? You’ve poured your heart into a work of art and it’s rejected in a heartbeat. So what must you do to get your poetry published?

Let's look at four possible reasons for rejection and how to overcome them:

1.  Wrong market – This is a big one, because you simply must know the market you're submitting to. Don't send your love poem to a wildlife magazine. Don't send your poem about a pretty cat to a dog magazine. How do you find a matching market for your poem? Read. It's as simple as that. If you're attempting to publish on the Internet, find some e-magazines and read the poems they are publishing. If you want to publish in a mainstream magazine, buy one at your local bookstore and take a gander at what's being accepted. Don't want to buy a bunch of magazines? Buy a 2007 Writer's Market Book and you will be introduced to hundreds of markets. Or go to some market sites on the Internet such as Predators and Editors, and Fiction Factor.

2.  Structure – Read your poem aloud. Read it several times. Be honest with your writing and discover if it flows well. Or have a friend read your poem aloud. Better yet, have a professional (teacher, professor, or parrot) read it and give you some advice. But one area you must address is how to make a poem flow easier. A big red X will be placed on your poem if you use too many "the's", "and's," and "that’s."  These three words can ruin a fantastic poem by bogging down a flowing river of words. Let's look at an example: 

The love that I hold for you
is the most important thing
that I dream about in the night
the love you feel for me
is the most important thing of all.

Now let's make it sound better, let's make it flow. How about this?

The love I hold for you
is what I dream about
but your love for me
means everything.       

Do you see a difference? My second example flows better. It's easier to read and not as awkward as the first example, and basically no meaning has been lost in the cleaned-up version. When writing, say as much as you can in as little space as possible.

3. Presentation – Read submission guidelines provided by your target market. If a magazine's guidelines stipulate double-spaced poetry, do it. If guidelines tell you not to centre your poem, don't. Remember, first impressions count. Follow the guidelines and you’ll be surprised at your results.

4. Preaching – Unless you’re writing a poem to your church congregation, do not expound on the gospel of St. Whomever. Long-winded sermon-poetry will be passed over by most publishers. Instead, try expressing feelings about God and Nature with only a few words. In fact, a brief spiritual poem can be enticing and extremely thought provoking. Try it.

Poetry is a fine art. Each poem is a miracle and you are its creator. Read your miracle and think about it. Miracles can always use a little dusting off, and maybe some lip-gloss. Run your miracle through a car wash. Someone might just see a nice new miracle to put into print.
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Stan Grimes is a graduate from Indiana University and works in the real world as a social worker. He has written a number of articles for the American Chronicle and www.useless-knowledge.com, has numerous poems and short stories published in various anthologies and on his website at AuthorsDen and has three science fiction/suspense thriller novels out. His latest, Deacon, can be found at Double Dragon Publishing Inc.


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