The Good Book
Here's a fantastic book for anybody looking to find a home for their poems. How (Not) to Get Your Poetry Published by Helena Nelson of HappenStance Press.
OK, so one thing the book isn't is a home for your poems. It is however a wittily insightful guide to many important aspects of the journey from putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, to popping the letter in the post or hitting send on the email to a potential publisher. It tells you the kinds of things you should be doing, and perhaps most importantly, the things you really shouldn't. If you read the websites from poetry publishers, you at some point begin to realise that very similar things raise a publisher's blood pressure. This book is not a prescription that states if you approach a publisher using a standardized template your poetry is guaranteed to be accepted for publication with open arms; it is an insight into the kinds of things that a publisher does appreciate, and those will inevitably play some part in whether your work hits the spot.
I'm not going to list all the chapter titles here, but what you will find is a foreword followed by 24 chapters, covering topics such as which publisher, and are you ready?; sending poems to magazines; the pros and cons of websites, blogs and social networking for poets; thinking like a publisher and making your approach; self publishing; performing your poems, and can you be a published poet and not do readings? plus much much more.
In each chapter there is a 'Write Now' prompt to get you thinking of the concepts you've encountered in the chapter and scribbling some ideas down in notes or poetry that engage with those topics. There are also case studies which illustrate occurrences from the publisher's world, where would-be poets who have not had the benefit of reading a book such as this blaze with both barrels at their target.
Finally there are Workbook exercises that challenge you to list the names of presses that you feel your work would be at home in; to find out the names of the editors and the relevant website addresses, Facebook profiles and Twitter names. You are invited to select the publications that your work has appeared in (hint: 'How (Not) to Get Your Poetry Published' explains that a publisher really does not want to read a list of everything you have ever published dating back to your junior school days) and these workbooks will all help you tune that submission and the accompanying letter and make it worthy of a publisher giving it a second glance.
Verdict: No matter what stage of your life as a person who writes poetry, this book has insights and experiences to make your poetry writing ambitions successful.