I recently came across this blog post by Naush Sabah about why we send our poems to magazines (or not). I’m in agreement with her on just about all of it, although I needed telling some things; for example:
You needn’t seek to publish every poem you write. Some work is for the drawer, some work is for an audience of one or two friends, some work is better within a book, some work is for the trash and, if you’re lucky, a key to unlock the next piece of writing.
It hasn’t been a conscious thing, but when I think about it, I can put most poems I write these days into one of these categories. I haven’t been sending out as many poems to magazines as I used to, and among those I have sent not many have been accepted. I’ve been a bit disillusioned about this to be honest.
And yet at the same time I can see that quite a few of these poems belong with others in order to have the impact I’m after. In other words, in a collection.
A few might even be poems I should be treating as stepping stones to the actual poem I’m after, the ‘key to unlocking the next piece of writing’ that Naush talks about in her piece.
A funny thing to be saying, given my unofficial role as cheerleader for submitting to magazines. I still believe in the magazines, and still encourage people to send in their poems. But it’s what I’ve always said: it’s not a strategy that suits everyone all the time. Goals and ambitions change.
Which reminds me, Sarah Salway interviewed me recently about submitting to magazines, for her lovely Everyday Words project. Sarah is a powerhouse of creativity, and if you haven’t seen it before, do watch this excellent TED talk she gave in 2019, ‘In praise of everyday words’: