Giving Back to Poetry

I’ve been reading more than usual lately. For one thing, all my Ann Cleeves (Vera, Shetland, 2 Rivers) books on the wait list at the library have been coming available. Then I’ve got a few fiction and nonfiction books I’m rarin’ to read. Additionally, I’m reading a couple of brand new poetry books that I plan to review for journals or this blog. The best way to  understand a poetry collection, for me, is to prepare for writing a review. So reviewing is actually a benefit to me, not just to the poet who wrote the collection.

Something new that I am starting to do is to read the new issues of journals that are emailed to me. It’s not that I didn’t read any of them before, but sometimes I would hit delete if I felt like I had too much going on and plenty to read. But I’ve decided that that is not good because without all these wonderful lit journals a lot of writers, including myself, would be screwed. Then I am choosing one of my favorite pieces from the journal and sharing it on social media.

I have a belief that underlies these endeavors. Too many poets (I can’t speak for creative nonfiction and fiction writers because I know a lot more poets) are so involved with their own writing or maybe the writing of their “big star” inspirations that they do not put enough back into the poetry community. Of course, I include myself in this number.  There are certainly plenty of exceptions to this phenomenon, including the work that lit mag editors and small press editors and owners do, especially those that continue long past the “it will help my career” period. Two special names that immediately spring to mind when I think of helping the poetry community are Trish Hopkinson  whose website is a treasure for poets and Neil Silberblatt who runs the Facebook group Voices of Poetry. I’ve talked about Diane Lockward’s craft books on here several times. Her books, monthly newsletter, and press (Terrapin) are all important to the poetry community. In fact, she has a new craft book coming out soon. It’s called The Strategic Poet. I’m super blessed to have a poem in the tome (that rhyme is how you can tell I’m a poet hahahaha). The poem is called “After the Call from the Animal Welfare Office: A Triple Triolet,” and it’s a response to a horrific cat hoarding situation in Phoenix last year.

There are many more poetry helpers, too. The work that I am doing for the community is miniscule compared to that of others, but I am trying to keep #poetrycommunity at the forefront of my decisions as much as possible.

Let’s make it a great week ahead!





Filed under #amwriting, #poetrycommunity, #writerlife, #writerslife, Book Review, Poetry, Reading, Writing Talk

47 responses to “Giving Back to Poetry

  1. Keep doing what you’re doing, Luanne. Your poems and your good works with needy animals are a beautiful contribution towards making the world a better place.

  2. Your post really resonated with me from two standpoints. My first creative writing instructor in college said the same thing about supporting literary fiction by subscribing to one or two journals. At five bucks a year, supporting our fellow writers wasn’t going to break us! The second point is about writing reviews. My best reading experiences by far were in my college and grad school years because I was writing about what I read. I’m now able to have that same reading experience by writing reviews–and no costly tuition!

    • Yes and yes. I agree. I loved grad school–reading to see what’s “going on here” instead of just for entertainment or knowledge. But it was hard to break myself of that after awhile, and I am glad I can now also read an Ann Cleeves or a Louise Penny and not sit there looking for how they did it hah. The review writing is so useful for everyone concerned, really.

  3. You’re right about this, and it’s something I’m guilty of–not writing many reviews, and not reading the tons of journals and poetry books I have. I am actually very busy right now, but I hope to do better. 😀
    Black Bough’s #TopTweetTuesday is another way that both published and unpublished poetry gets seen and shared.

  4. I agree with giving back, Luanne.

  5. I appreciate this post! Years ago when I first began submitting poetry to literary magazines any poem of mine that was published I’d read so happily and then be done almost like just tossing the rest of a delicious fruit away. And recently I’ve gotten into reading a wide range of poetry including books not only by classic authors but independent and less known ones too, and also magazines, even before submitting to them. It is freeing and also something I believe in, to support other writers and artists. I also enjoy listening to poets read during events whether I am going to be reading then or not.
    A great, helpful perspective.

    • LOVE that description of “tossing the rest of a delicious fruit away.” YES! It’s so true and so selfish, yet we’ve all been there at one time or another. Such a wonderful comment here, Jade. I agree about the readings, too!

  6. I think it’s essential to read in order to be a writer, but I too struggle with doing both simultaneously. For poetry I need a lot of free time or clear head space, or better still follow along to a narration, preferably by the author. I stopped writing any reviews a while back. Not being a trained writer, I felt I wasn’t giving the author my best shot. Now I just rate on Goodreads. But even then, ever since I was published, it is hard for me to immerse myself completely. I, too, am absorbing, the “how did they do that” constantly ticking in my subconscious.

    • I completely understand about the reviews. It can be daunting to give a review like Liz Gauffreau does. However, sometimes one or two sentences can provide a nice review to go along with a Goodreads rating! And that one or two sentences can go over on Amazon, too. It adds to the reviews a book gets, and even thinking over that one sentence can make us think “once over” about the book. Now I find the ratings more daunting!!! I really hate giving stars. Really hate it because no matter what I come up with it’s wrong. It’s so limiting!
      It is so hard to get rid of that thinking. I finally got away from it for fiction because I mainly don’t write fiction. And I read mainly mysteries, and I doubt I will ever write a mystery. They are my go-to comfort place.

      • I try to stick to a strict definition of the Goodreads stars. Five is for a book I would want if I was marooned. Three is for a book I liked, but wouldn’t rush to read a second time. So four is for everything in between. I won’t rate lower than a three. I just remove the book from my register of “currently reading/read”. But you are right about a line or two doing so much good. I really should lift my game.

  7. anjum wasim dar

    useful meaningful article

  8. Something that I like about my long-term writing groups — we are all an appreciative audience for each other’s writing (which includes a good handful of poems). So yes, it’s important to be read and appreciated, as well as to read and appreciate. These classes are partly empathy, partly art.

  9. You are a true ambassador for the poetry cause.
    May we always remember what poetry brings to our lives.
    “I think that I will never see a poem so lovely as a tree.” – Kilmer
    But what did she know? I’ve seen tons of poems lovelier than the beautiful trees I’ve seen.
    The beauty is in the eye (and mind) of the beholder. Keep on keeping on, Luanne.

    • Aw, thanks, Sheila! Trees have to clamor for us to see their differentness, whereas all poems are instantly “different.” Not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me hahaha.

  10. You make such an excellent point here, Luanne, for poets as well as authors of fiction and non-fiction. We should/must support each other to keep our craft and our readership growing. I know that I would not be the writer that I am if not for all the authors I’ve read before me. I also know that the support we give each other in the blogosphere is incredible and so important to the creative in each of us. Thanks for the reminder, and the push to each of us to review each other’s work.

    • I totally agree! By the way, I finished your new wonderful book and am reviewing it. I’ll be posting about it before too long. I am reading 4 nonfiction books and will probably post reviews in 2 different posts of 2 each. Of course, I am getting very little “actual” writing done throughout this hahaha.

  11. It seems in life that the more we ‘give back’, the happier we are. 🙂 Perhaps, that is why you have such a beautiful smile, and even smiling can be contagious…

  12. I’m applauding you for finding (making?) the time! To read and to share. I’ve been finding it harder to keep up with both lives–my digital and my real-world one:).

    • Kay, it’s true that I am writing very little right now while I am reading so much. But I guess that is the part of the cycle I am on right now ;)!

  13. You ARE giving back to the poetry community, dear. Keep up the good work.

  14. I am slowly catching up with your posts, Luanne. Ann Cleeves I recently learned about through the BBC miniseries “Shetland”, which we came across in a review in The New Yorker. Those reviews do help!

  15. This post has kind of convicted me. I used to LOVE subscribing and reading literary magazines. I so enjoyed discovering work I had no idea I needed to read. But when so many journals went digital, I gradually quit. I should reinvestigate the situation and get back on board. TY for the prompt.

  16. I agree that Trish Hopkins always has a plethora of information. Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord Blog Magazine ( also does a lot for authors.

  17. Cat hoarding, ew! Is there a link so we can read your poem on that topic?

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