Girls in a Boys' Club: Tips for Poets

Jeannine and Kelli have eloquently written their tips for women poets. I follow in their footsteps with my own set of suggestions.

Submit, Submit, Submit, ESPECIALLY to the places that have a lousy track record accepting submissions from women. VIDA couldn’t have come along at a better time.

Speaking of VIDA, I was reading this reposted article by Eileen Myles. We should all have this passion:

Is writing just a job? Writing books, writing poems. If it is, then the message to women is to go elsewhere. But they can go to hell—these messengers, the collective whoever or whatever that is saying it. I don’t believe that this is a job. I think writing is a passion. It’s an urge as deep as life itself. It’s sex. It’s being and becoming. If you write, then writing is how you know. And when someone starts slowly removing women from the public reflection of this fact, they are saying that she doesn’t know. Or I don’t care if she thinks she knows.
I don’t want to be removed from the public reflection. Do you? Keep submitting.

Create Your Own Zines, Blogs, Events—whatever. And strive for excellence as you do. Build it, and we will come.

Market Yourself, because no one will do it for you.

Get Paid. Honestly, I’m grateful to read wherever, whenever. In most cases, I read for free because poetry is about community. But at some point, it becomes cost prohibitive for me to read without some honorarium to lessen the financial blow of child care and travel. So I ask. It’s taken me a while to get to the point where I feel comfortable asking. But I do—because I know my worth.

Hustle like Steve Almond. Sometimes you have to create your own opportunities.

Read in Public as often as possible.

And if you have kids, bring them to your poetry readings. Let them see mommy successful at something you love to do. It also helps demystify poetry for the next generation.


This is so important for us. All of us!
renkath said…
Thanks, January.

Do you think that Steve could have done this had he not already had a reputation and traditionally published work?
January said…
I honestly think anyone can do it. Steve is equal parts talent and drive. That formula can be repeated.

I’ve known Steve for a while, and he works really hard—and is very public about it. He built a solid reputation in the Boston scene as someone who delivers. All success is relative, and as hard as he works, I’m guessing he’s enjoying himself.

A good lesson for us all.
Thank you for this post. I tried to post a link to it to my Facebook, but it won't let me. I'll not give up. We need to spread the word about each other and links are a free and easy medium to do this through. Write on!!!

Collin Kelley said…
Eileen is brilliant. She was here in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago for an AQLF fundraiser and she was just fab.

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