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Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions for sober poets in the New Year

The word sober means clear-headed, so as you approach the New Year clearly ahead, consider what you hope 2012 will bring for your poetry and your life as a poet. For example, do you want:

A book of poems published by a traditional poetry publisher?

A published chapbook?

The top award in a reputable poetry contest?

A self-published poetry book?

Each of those goals requires some clear-headed thinking. For instance, a book will be more likely to be accepted by an editor if you have 50 to 120 pages of your best poems ready to go to a publisher who publishes that very type of poetry. Similarly, a chapbook will be more likely to place if you have 18 to 24 poems centered on a single theme that interests your potential publisher.

Manuscripts of poems can also be submitted to a contest for books or chapbooks, either of which you can locate in Poets & Writers' online classifieds. For individual poems prepared to compete, consider entering the international contest sponsored each year by Writers-Editors.com. Since I’m one of the judges in that competition though, be sure you do not submit poems I have previously edited or critiqued.

You have more control over the outcome of your goals as a poet if you self-publish, but please, please do not do this until you have gotten a critique or poetry edit.

Regardless of your personal goal as a poet, a New Year’s resolution can re-solve or revisit solutions you believe to be most needed for you and your poetry. So keep on writing. Keep on reading your poems and each revision aloud. Then be soberly honest with yourself as you clearly see where you want you and your poems to head during the coming year.


For additional suggestions from previous months, see these helpful posts:

Sending your poems to poetry journals

Start your New Year with new tools for writing and revising your poems

Line breaks can make or break your poem

Scan a poem. Catch the beat. Change the rhythm as you revise.

Righting haiku and writing syllabic verse

Revising your poetry can be a smooth move.

Three techniques for revising your poems

© 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. God bless you and your New Year!


  1. Hello! I added your blog to my RSS feeds late last summer, and I read post the fist day you posted it; I "starred" for future reference. I think it's funny, as if you are part of many cues from the universe that are all telling me, "This year you will do it."

    In about mid December I was randomly introduced to a psychic (if you believe in such things) and one of the first things she said to others present in the room was, "He will finish a big project this coming year." As skeptical as I was, and still am slightly, I was still amazed, and though I concealed it, pretty giddy as well just hearing someone say that.

    What I'm trying to get to is that I do hope I can publish something this year. Somehow I've just been so focused and driven as of late, and once it's ready, I think I'd like for it to be "edited" as you mention in your post. I'm not really sure how I'd go about that when the time comes, but this seems like a place to start.

  2. Hello and thanks for writing. When you're ready, go to the Critique page of The Poetry Editor website to find info and reasonable fees below those charged by most well-published poets. However, I need to tell you that yes, I do believe in psychics, but I would not go to one. As a Christian, I believe the only safe route into the spirit world is through the pure, holy, and redemptive love of Jesus Christ, The Way.