10 Ways to Promote Your Poetry
By Jane K. Kretschmann
Once a poem is published in a journal, it may not reach another audience againunless its included in a book. Many fine poems never get ex-posure, given the narrow market for poetry books. All poets can benefit from taking stock of the other venues for promoting poetry, while court-ing literary journals and sending book manuscripts off for consideration. Here are a variety of alternatives to traditional publishing to get your poetry before the public.
1. READ OR PERFORM YOUR POETRY IN PUBLIC: Participate in, or organize, a reading in a bookstore, library, coffeehouse, bar, church, art gallery, park or college. Or perform your poetry at an appropriate event, such as a poetry slam.
2. CONSIDER OTHER NONPRINT MEDIUMS: Sculpted Word (geocities.com/sculptedword/Poetry.htm), a radio program, and Spo-ken Word Internet Radio Station (audiobookradio.net) broadcast poetry.
3. TIE-IN WITH VENDORS: Ladybug Press (ladybugbooks.com) will print your poetry, up to 20 pages, and provide you with up to 15 free CDs, if you publicize their business.
4. SELL YOUR POETRY TO A CALENDAR COMPANY OR MAKE ONE OF YOUR OWN: Sourcebooks publishes the page-a-day-style Poetry Speaks Calendar and invites suggestions for future entries. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or make your own calendar using 12 of your poems.
5. HAVE IT PUBLISHED OR EXHIBITED BY A MUSEUM OR GALLERY: John OHaras A City of Winter (a pamphlet of five sonnets and 12 other poems) was published by the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York City.
6. WORK WITH A CHURCH, COMMUNITY GROUP OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Examples: New York City-based St. Marks Church in-the-Bowery developed the Poetry Project (poetryproject.com), which offers three different reading and performance series each week, plus lectures and special events. Iowa City, Iowas Poetry in Public project displays residents poems in city buses, downtown kiosks and public buildings in April. And the New York City Transit Authority participated in Poetry in Motion by displaying poems on buses and subways.
7. PAIR IT UP WITH THE WORK OF A VISUAL ARTIST, MUSICIAN OR DANCER: San Franciscos annual Dancing Poetry Festival (dancing-poetry.org) features poets who read their work while dancers move to their words.
8. INSTALL OR PROJECT IT: Use one or more of your poems in an art installation. San Joses Heritage Day 2006 featured Poetry Gate, 1,000 stanzas written on colorful silk and rice paper. Digital projection allows your poetry to move and offers a new way of looking at your lines. Take advantage of equipment from a school or college to temporarily proj-ect poetry in a public space.
9. PUT IT ON A WALL: Monroe County Public Library in Indiana created a Public Poetry Wall exclusively for middle school and high school teens. New poems are posted each month.
10. CONTRIBUTE IT TO A POETRY TRAIL: Two naturalists and a teacher produced a guidebook of poems for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Small, numbered signposts along the trail in Bear Run Nature Conserve corresponded to the poems in the book.
JANE K. KRETSCHMANNs poems have been broadcast on radio, displayed in art museums and libraries, and published online, in print journals, and in her chapbook, Imagining a Life (FootHills Publishing).