How to start your poetic path?

It has always been difficult to measure success for young poets, as being famous is not the only indicator (and let’s admit most of the poets were appreciated after their death). So what can we do to make our poetic path colorful and fruitful? Tips from Leyli Salayeva – a contemporary poet from Azerbaijan.

These days a poet is not an introvert who sits in the room all day long and makes the notes in the pad. Nowadays a poet is a person who is actively engaged in social networks, who is a frequent participant at poetry events, and who is not afraid of publishing a book. I’ve been writing poems for a long period of time but they were mostly left on the paper. I dared to show them only to a few of my friends. I was not brave enough to share with a large audience, reckoning the poems were not worth of it. The assumptions we make, the uncertainties we try on ourselves are the worst clothes that should be removed before they wrap our souls in oblivion.

I started my journey with opening of a page on Facebook, and posted poems on a periodic basis accompanied by a picture that was used for attraction of reader’s attention. This first step allowed me to see initial perception and reaction of people on my works. In the meantime I applied to different poetry competitions and submitted my poems to the various poetry magazines. Don’t expect that with the first submission you would be a winner of a contest or a magazine will choose your poems to be published. Always keep in my mind that there are other good poets out there, but what you should know that your poems have peculiarities that make them unique and catchy. You will figure out this uniqueness through people’s feedback. It took me a while to realize this simple fact. And you need to apply to as many magazines as possible, so that your editor can finally find you.

At the same time, I read poems of contemporary writers and became a member of the poetry society to keep the finger on the pulse and to get away from classic form of a poem (where rhythm and rhyme were the cornerstones of the verses). That’s when I understood that there was a necessity in education. There are a lot of good workshops and distant learning courses available online. I’ve chosen poetry course at London School of Journalism. This distant learning course allowed me to better understand contemporary poetry and polish my poems through series of exercises and tutor’s feedbacks. If you read my first and second book, you will see the great impact the knowledge obtained had on a form and content of the poems. But I strive for excellence and recently got enrolled to the workshop that is provided by California Institute of the Arts for a very symbolic price.

I have already self-published two poetry books. For my fellow I would recommend to get rid of false assumptions, be bold and go ahead with publishing of the book. The printed books opened for me the opportunities for participation in different poetry projects, interviews in magazines and brought acquaintances with other poets. Treat your book as your portfolio, and while compiling it pay great attention to the order of poems and concept of the whole book, including design of the cover.

Don’t set any high expectation on any of the steps that you take during your poetry activity, and learn to measure success and celebrate it.

Remember, it all starts with the mission, what you are aiming to achieve with your poetry. My mission is to take poetry everywhere, to popularize poetry by reaching people who do not read books, and those that are keen on books to be able to witness a book coming to life on the stage.

And what is your mission?

6 bricks of the path: 

  1. Be active in social networks

  2. Participate at poetry competitions and submit your poems to poetry magazines

  3. Take online courses or enroll to poetry workshops

  4. Publish a book

  5. Measure and celebrate success

  6. Last but not least, have a clear vision of your goals

Other interesting stories: