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The following article is written by Barbara Crooker, who is a frequent contributor to my anthologies. I strongly urge you to visit her website, For a treat, click “Online,” scroll to The Writer’s Almanac and read “Ordinary Life.”




Barbara Crooker is the author of more than 1150 poems published in anthologies and magazines such as Yankee, The Christian Science Monitor, Smartish Pace, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Nimrod, The Denver Quarterly, The Cream City Review, Poetry International, The Christian Century, and America. She is the recipient of the 2004 WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the 2004 Pennsylvania Center for the Book Poetry in Public Places Poster Competition, the 2003 Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, the 2003 "April Is the Cruelest Month" Award from Poets & Writers, the 2000 New Millenium Writing's Y2K competition, the 1997 Karamu Poetry Award, and others, including three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, ten residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a prize from the NEA. A seventeen time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, she was nominated for the 1997 Grammy Awards for her part in the audio version of the popular anthology, Grow Old Along With Me--The Best is Yet to Be (Papier Mache Press). She is the author of ten chapbooks, two of which won prizes in national competitions: Ordinary Life won the ByLine Chapbook competition in 2001 and Impressionism won the Grayson Books Chapbook competition in 2004. Radiance, appearing in July, 2005, won the Word Press First Book competition. Recently, Garrison Keillor read six of her poems on The Writer's Almanac, National Public Radio.






Here's my abbreviated how-to on getting poetry published. First, you have to understand, it's not easy. You have to do research to find out which magazines publish the kind of poetry you write. Two good directories are The Directory of Poetry Publishers, PO Box 100, Paradise, CA 95967 and Poet's Market (, from Writer's Digest. One way to use these directories is to look at the entries for magazines, see which writers they list (usually there's a sample of "writers we've recently published") whose work you know and like, send for a sample issue, and then, if it's a match, submit. Now that most magazines are also on line, you can find samples from each issue there. If you're just starting out and don't recognize any names, that's a clue that you need to do more reading. Good writing doesn't come from a vacuum. You need to read as much contemporary writing as you possibly can.


Another place I find information, calls for submissions, contests, and the like is Poets & Writers Magazine. You can check them out on line at Most serious writers subscribe to it. They also list anthology calls, which is how I got to know June, and are a valuable source of recycling. After a poem appears in a magazine, it may only be read by, say, 500 people (assuming that the subscribers read every page, which probably isn't true, and assuming that the circulation is that high, which often it's not). You want to try and republish your poems in as many anthologies as you can, to increase your audience.


And yet another place is CRWROPPS. You can subscribe on the web at: or you can get it in your Inbox by sending a blank e-mail message to: Then they send you back a "do you really want to subscribe" notice, and you receive oh, say 10 e-mails a day (many are repetitions) of various possibilities--fiction, non-fiction, etc. The only thing is, you have no way of knowing about the quality of these places. But sometimes, the important thing is just getting the work out--


Another valuable source is the woman's poetry discussion group: WOM-PO@LISTSERV.MUOHIO.EDU. Send a message to the server address,, with a blank subject heading and the message: SUB WOM-PO YOUR NAME. Again, you'll get a message back checking to see if you really want to subscribe.


One more way I find places to submit is to see where my friends are getting published. I do this by looking in the acknowledgments page of books I'm reading to see where the poems I really like (or are like mine) first appeared, and I also do this with magazines I'm reading, by looking at the contributors' notes, and seeing where else this person has published. I go to Poetry Daily and Verse Daily every day--some of the poems are from books, others are from journals, and if I think there's a match, I try my hand at sending there.


Generally, you want to send 4-5 poems in a packet, plus a cover letter or bio note, and a SASE for return. You never want to copyright first; that's a signal that you're a beginner (OK, you are a beginner, but--). Most small magazines copyright for you when they publish, and it's a first-time rights only kind of thing; you can then go and reprint on the web (if that's OK with the website), in anthologies, your own books, etc.

Does this all make you tired? It makes me tired, and I've been doing it for over 30 years.


You do have to be prepared for a lot of rejections; most magazines only take 1-3% of the submissions. Even though I may seem to be widely published, what you see is just the tip of the vast iceberg of rejection.


If you'd like to know more about my work, come and visit my website, Good luck, and welcome to the wonderful wacky world of poetry publishing!


© Barbara Crooker



Article provided by June Cotner, publishing consultant and author of the bestselling Graces and Dog Blessings and 24 other books. PO Box 2765, Poulsbo, WA 98370


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