The New Year is nearly upon us and we’re hoping to start the next twelve months with some good poetry habits. So we’ve put together a list of ideas, helped by those who answered our callout on Twitter, and overflowing with links to Young Poets Network resources you might not know about. Delve in!
A general word of advice before we start: make your resolutions specific. And if you think you’ll struggle to keep your poetry resolution(s), announce your plans to your friends and family – and post them below. Then everyone will know and you’ll have to do it!
1. Write/read more
It’s every successful writer’s top tip: read more. Write more. So this year do it: write a poem a week, read a collection a month, or whatever works for you.
Old YPN challenges might offer writing prompts. You could try different forms – a sonnet maybe, or a sestina – or even create your own form. Keep a notebook. April is unofficially NaPoWriMo, in which writers attempt to pen a poem every day of the month. Last year, Poetry School ran a series of daily prompts. Explore the internet’s resources!
To encourage your reading, you could resolve to buy or borrow a poetry book every month. Pick a poet who you’ve never properly read (Clare Pollard, Inua Ellams, Richard Osmond) and buy/borrow a book by them. If you’re from the UK, you might even want to join the National Poetry Library. It’s based in London, but once you’ve registered in person you can take out ebooks wherever you are, as well as their physical collections!
You’ve written. Now it’s time to edit. Maybe this year you’ll resolve to look back over your writing at the end of every month, and pick (at least!) one poem to edit (and submit somewhere?). Or at the end of each month, pick out the best lines you’ve written that month, and create a new poem with them. Either way – don’t let your writing languish! Editing is half the job, and half the joy. You might even resolve to collect your poems into a pamphlet or a collection by the end of the year.
We have loads of editing tips:
- Cliff Yates offers advice in this previous YPN feature.
- Matthew Sweeney has suggestions on choosing titles.
- Then read back through Young Poets Networkers’ tips for editing, in two articles: getting in the right mind-set and editing/redrafting.
3. Do that project!
Maybe you’ve had an idea for something – an epic poem, a sonnet sequence, a particular subject, trying spoken word or page poetry, starting your own magazine, setting up a writers’ group with your friends, or a live literature event – and you’ve been putting it off. Resolve to do it this year. Commit to it in the comments below and we’ll do all that we can to support you.
4. Submit to magazines and competitions
When we asked Twitter for their poetry resolutions, most people responded with the desire to put their poetry into the world this year.
Let people see the poems I wrote about them
— LaurenMcCarthy (@MarnieLuna96) December 15, 2017
Finding an international publishing house interested in my work as an Egyptian, feminist poet. Support, editing and pitching
— Jaylan Salah (@JaylanSalman) December 16, 2017
Maybe this year you’ll overcome your fear of showing people your poetry. Or you might be ready to pen a prize-winning poem – many competitions for young people are free of charge or very cheap, and offer great prizes. Before you enter, read our poetry competition secrets feature. Then check out our Poetry Opportunities page for what’s around. And of course enter the free Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award (this year celebrating its 20th anniversary), and the many challenges on Young Poets Network. Even if you don’t win a competition, the deadline and theme can be a great way to hone your writing.
Also consider submitting to a magazine this year. Sending your work off to editors doesn’t cost a penny – some publications even pay a fee. What is there to lose?!
5. Subscribe to a poetry magazine or podcast
Reading poetry magazines has so many benefits: you’ll stay in the loop, get inspired by your contemporaries, and, of course, increase your chances of being published by reading the magazine first. Our Poetry Opportunities page and The National Poetry Library have fuller lists (and remember that many magazines are free and online), but here are a few print publications to get you started:
- The Poetry Review is The Poetry Society’s very own magazine. Published quarterly (i.e. four times a year), it’s one of the oldest poetry magazines in the UK. £37 per year/£8.95 per issue.
- The Rialto is a widely lauded magazine based in Norfolk. £24/£19 concession per year.
- Ambit is a 96-page quarterly literary and art magazine, created in London. £29.99 per year.
- Modern Poetry in Translation offers a dip into cultures and poetries across the world. Published three times a year. £23/£18.99 digital per year.
Poetry podcasts are another great and often free way to get introduced to new poetry regularly. Perhaps you could ask for a magazine subscription for Christmas or your next birthday, or ask your local library to subscribe. Some podcasts include:
- The Poetry Society’s free podcast with interviews and readings by Emily Berry, Ishion Hutchinson, Joelle Taylor, Jacob Polley and more.
- Poetry Pharmacy in which Steve Wasserman invites people to ‘prescribe’ poems they love.
- Common Podcast, conversations with amazing poets like Danez Smith and Sharon Olds.
- Distraction Pieces, a weekly conversation between Scroobius Pip and guests from Simon Pegg to Amanda Palmer.
- Poetry Foundation with links to many more soundbites of poets and poems.
What are your favourite poetry magazines/podcasts/blogs?
6. Join a writing group/reading group
Join a group of people like you! Your school or university might have a club or society. If not, try the local library. The Poetry Society runs free Stanza groups across the UK and internationally. Or start your own up – who wouldn’t love a new reading or writing group in their area? Read Caleb Klaces’ top tips for starting your own writing community – online or offline.
7. Attend a poetry workshop or a poetry course
Workshops are dedicated times to focus on your writing and try something new. There are always poetry workshops popping up around the UK, some of which may be free (check your local library or arts space). If you’re able to dedicate a bit more money to your poetry, it may be worth looking at longer Poetry School or Arvon courses (with Arvon being a prize for top 15 Foyle Young Poets every year).
8. Go to a poetry reading/performance/festival – and read/perform yourself!
Go and hear your contemporaries perform. And if you’re feeling brave, sign up to an open mic this year. It’s scary but very exciting, and a chance to meet like-minded people. If you don’t know anything about open mics, never fear – we have a feature explaining the basics. If there’s nothing on in your area (Londoners: tried The Poetry Café?), we’ve got a good article by Amy Key about putting your own poetry gig on. You can do it!
Even better, see loads of great poets and meet lots of lovely people all at once at a poetry festival. Some of the UK’s biggest poetry festivals include:
- Verve in Birmingham (15 – 18 February 2018)
- StAnza in Scotland (7 – 11 March 2018, in St Andrews, Fife)
- Ledbury in Herefordshire (29 June – 8 July 2018)
- Bridlington in East Riding of Yorkshire (September – October)
- Aldeburgh in Suffolk (November)
9. Try a new art form
Kayo Chingonyi’s incredible collection Kumukanda shows the influence of hiphop, grime and rap on his poetry. Write plays, short stories, essays, review, letters. Collaborate with musicians, dancers, games designers. Paint. Draw. Knit! Intertextuality can push your work into interesting places.
10. Spread the poetry love
Maybe this year, like a Poetry Father Christmas, you’ll bring the gift of poetry to other people’s lives:
- Find one poem to convince a poetry novice you know of the magic of poetry. (If it works, share it in the comments!)
- Leave a poem in an unexpected place, either physically (at the bus stop, on the beach, in a public bathroom) or digitally (on a TripAdvisor or Amazon review). You might even make a time capsule and bury your or other people’s poems for posterity.
- We’ve had a knitted poem, we’ve had cupcake poems… put a poem in a different form, and let us know.
There you have it – ten suggestions for your new year. Please do comment below with which poetry resolutions you’re going to make this year, and support your fellow YPNers in their mission to be better readers and writers. Best of luck!