A Discussion on Poetry

Janet Syas Nitsick and I sat down to talk about what we learned from researching poetry.  I am not a poetry writer.  She isn’t either.  Our main focus has been on writing genre fiction.  What we found in our research is not conclusive.  There’s plenty more out there to learn, but this is basically what we found:

If you are looking to make a living publishing poems (in your own anthology, to small publishers, magazines, or journals), we could find no evidence this is possible.  I can find plenty of evidence that authors who write serials, novellas, and novels are either making a good supplemental income or making a living.  I’ve even found that freelance writers (doing articles, ghostwriting, essays, posting for others’ blogs) can make a living.  I just can’t find it with poetry.  The bottom line: if you’re doing poetry, also do something else if you want to make a living writing.

Below I have linked to some discussion forums and critique groups for poets.  I haven’t joined any of these.  I just found them while searching for groups to help poets, so if you’re interested in poetry, this might help you meet (and befriend) others who share your interest.  These people will probably know more than Janet and I can ever dig up.

Scribophile: Scroll down to the yellow part to find the poetry information.

All Poetry

Critique Groups (includes poetry)

Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group


  1. I am a short story writer where I will use poetic interludes in a story when it calls for it but you don’t see poets thinking that as I was a spoken word poet before going back to writing short stories. Poets give me shit for not publishing short poetry because I need to fill 180 page volume on average an isssue of my magazine; I need at least an epic poet to be about eight pages to keep up with their short story counteparts. Short story writers do quite well with my publications — but Emanations publishes short stories and poems though.

    1. Thanks for chiming in. I don’t come across many poets, so it’s good to have your perspective. I think short stories and poems is a good mix. I could see short stories having a wider audience. I usually read those instead of poetry when I want something quick.

      1. I don’t understand why there is a tension between poets and short story writers though — I mean there is a serious tension because the poets get mad at there are more chances for short story writers to be published.

        1. I didn’t realize the tension existed. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. One time I was reading a discussion where writers were arguing over whether paperback paper should be white or cream. When I started writing, I thought all writers would be supportive because we all have writing in common. It was a rude awakening to find out that wasn’t the case.

          1. The horror genre there is even more tension than most because you see authors willing to enable plagiarism of their rivals and not say anything when it happens. I got cool feedback from creativenonfiction.org but they told me they were not exactly ready for a supernatural horror element in there. I use white paper on Royal trade paperback because it shows up better for my photography. Mary Sangiovanni caused a lot of hostility with self-published authors and when she turned around and worked with createspace.com she didn’t see a backlash. The backlash started when she said I needed “decades of therapy” as I am bipolar type II as Robin Williams ended his life a year later. The tension is there between me and Kealan Patrick Burke when I pulled a Pascal on him when I had his story in one hand and a story he never seen before in the other as I am doing an anthology of authors who are 1980s kids based upon my five year memoir. I have 153 pages filled so far — I am looking for writers born between 1973-1979 for this the timeline of my memoir are in school years 1989-1990, 1990-1991, 1991-1993, 1992-1993, and 1993-1994. The bonus story is from college as that was my first ghost hunt. I caught a lot of hell with my classmates because I caught one saying the same thing Mary Sangiovanni pulled. You see the tension between fiction only authors in horror and their creative nonfiction counterparts.

  2. Unfortunately unless you’re a poet laureate, there’s really no way to make a living from poetry alone.

    1. That’s the conclusion I came to. I couldn’t find anyone who did it. Even the ones who are familiar names seemed to have other jobs.

  3. amcmulin914 says:

    This sentence, “If you are looking to make a living publishing poems (in your own anthology, to small publishers, magazines, or journals), we could find no evidence this is possible.”, is just awesome and horrifying and sad. I think this ignore the realms of Rap and Hip-Hop, where you definitely have poetry and music of course, making substantial sums of money. Traditional published poetry is competing with that. I think there is a large market for spoken word videos, if they can had the powerful visual stimulation as well There is already a lot of that content out there of course.There is a place for poets they just have stay evolving. Great article.

    1. I hadn’t thought about using poetry and using it with video. This is a great idea. I think we’re heading more and more to videos overall. With meeting people all around the world on the internet, video is the easiest way to establish a connection that gives you a person’s face, their voice, shows you their body language, and gives you content. This is why I’m trudging my way into learning how to do more with video.

      I think poetry can work really well in this avenue. It’s just a matter of getting creative.

    2. I also think poetry videos is a great idea. It would be like attending a slam poetry event right in your home. God bless.

  4. amcmulin914 says:

    Great video too by the way.

  5. amcmulin914 says:

    Oh and a great freelance site is elance.com

    1. Thanks for the comment on the video!

      Also, thanks for the site. That’s the one I was trying to think of but couldn’t.

      1. amcmulin914 says:

        My pleasure it was a very interesting video and blog. Thanks for the great content.

  6. I finally got to hear this. Somehow the sound was turned to mute. You looked excellent, Ruth, and so professional. God bless.

    1. Mute does make a difference, doesn’t it? 😉

      I’m having a lot of fun with video. It’s a lot easier than speaking in front of a large group.

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