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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Now where did I put that poem?

Keeping track of your poems is easy at first, but as your work grows, it’s hard to remember every title, much less where it was last seen.

If you occasionally (or regularly!) send poems to poetry journals or anthologies, you know a typical submission contains 3 to 5 poems in one batch sent to one editor at a time. This can add up quickly– and quickly add to the confusion!

To keep track of individual poems:

·         Type each on a separate page in a poetry file kept on computer.  

·         At the top of each poem, type the date written and the primary topic, the latter of which will help you find appropriate poems to send in one batch. (This information also helps later when you search for poems on a particular subject for a chapbook or section of a poetry book.)

·         When you’re ready to submit a poem to a contest, periodical, or other publication, type the date of submission and name of the potential publisher with the other record-keeping info at the top of the page.

That information is for yourself, of course, and not publication. If, however, you don’t like this method, another way to keep track is by setting up a “Poetry Submission” file. (I do both.)

For a poetry submission file:

·         List and alphabetize each poem by title.

·         Beside each title, identify the form, such as “haiku,” “sonnet,” “children’s poem.”

·         Also, identify the primary subject(s), such as “nature,” “faith,” “love.”

·         Type in the date and place where you’re submitting the poem, the method of mailing, and the contact info for the person to whom the poem is sent.

·         If the poem is not accepted for publication, type in the date you received a “no.”

·         If the poem is accepted, enjoy the moment! Then type in the date you received a “yes” and the date to be published (TBP.)

To see at a glance which poems are being considered, which will be published, and which are ready to send out again, I add an identifier to the left of each title. For example, I type * when a poem has been accepted and + when under consideration.

If a poem comes back and waits for me to tweak, revise, or otherwise reconsider before I send it to the next potential publisher, I remove the identifiers. This way, my Poetry Submission file shows me which poems are free to go out again without my fretting over where they are.

Mary Harwell Sayler , ©2019

P.S. After posting these tips on keeping track of the poems we submit, I discovered I'd sent a previously published poem to an online journal that wants only unpublished pieces! Lord, help! Even the best laid plans and systems can go awry! Thankfully, I caught the error before the journal had time to use the poem, so I confessed my mistake to the editor. Also, I'm thankful I have another file called "Bio" that lists the titles and genres of my published works with the places and dates they see print, which is how I found my mistake.

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