Putting poems into a collection is a great way to showcase your work but it is not simply a matter of printing them out and putting them together. Thought needs to go into which poems to select, and in what order to place them. Something has to link these poems together, a thread or common subject, or poetic form. I have put together some useful articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos that can help to inform and assist you in putting together a collection.
This article covers the essentials of getting poetry books into print, discussing both the writing and publishing process for contemporary poets. It explains the difference between a chapbook (a small collection of poems also called a pamphlet in the U.K) and a full-length poetry collection. It tells us that a collection needs a connecting thread to link the poems. The order of poems in a modern poetry book should accomplish the five E’s: Enmeshment, Evenness, Evolution, Experience, and Experimentation. These terms are explained to the reader.
Masterclass suggests that you need something in between 30 and 100 poems for a poetry collection. It talks you through the guidelines of a submission process, the benefits of entering competitions, approaching small presses, and trying self-publishing. The article emphasises the importance of not just sandwiching all your poetry writing into a collection but selecting poems that are in conversation with one another, unified by themes, style, or choice of poetic form.
Phoebe Stuckes says that when putting together a poetry collection, your hard-hitting poems should be spaced apart. Mix up the poems you imagine yelling with the poems you imagine whispering. She recommends printing out all of your poems and trying them in a few different line-ups until you find an order, you’re happy with. She also shares some great tips for submitting to publishers.
Medium advises you on how to select poems for a small chapbook. Chapbooks very often have an underlying thread tying the poems within together. The thread might be based on content, structure, or voice. It suggests elements to consider when selecting poems and how to go about sequencing them in your chapbook.
This short and to the point article covers the eight most critical elements on the road to publishing your poems, including, whether to do-it-yourself or hire a professional, how many poems to include, poetry justification, and designing your book cover.
Here is a step-by-step guide to self-publishing a poetry book. It talks you through choosing the best place to publish your poetry, editing and getting feedback, organising your poems to create collections, establishing an online presence, formatting your book, and distributing it.
This interesting article asks poets who have published poetry collections to share their experiences.
This podcast discusses writing and publishing options for poets and shares advice on how to self-publish poetry books. It also includes readings from self-publishing poets in a segment called Indie Poetry Please.
This video from Reedsy explores four routes you can take when looking to publish your poems.
Writer’s Relief discusses several ways you can get a chapbook, or book of poems published and explains things you should keep in mind.
In this video from Poet to Poet, Mary B. Moore and editor Luke Hankins of Orison Books discuss the process behind Mary’s latest collection, Dear If, and cover the qualities that led publisher Luke Hankins to select Dear If. Mary talks about involving peers, editors, and poetry doulas in her process. How to begin the process of structuring a manuscript is also discussed.
There are lots to think about in these articles, podcasts, and videos. Sharing what you have written with other poets, and sending your poetry out into the world, to magazines and competitions, is a great way to test the water and gain some interest in your work. Printing out your poems to date and looking for themes, and connecting threads is a good way to start thinking about putting a collection together.
I hope you have found this week’s column helpful. As always, if they are any topics you would like me to cover, please get in touch.
(c) Lucy O’Callaghan