“Well, write poetry for God ‘s sake, it’s the only thing that matters,” said E.E. Cummings, the famous American poet.
Are you the kind who thinks in poetry?
Are you obsessed with words and their ability to stir up emotions?
Then, you my friend, are a poet, and don’t even know it! Perhaps your pen has bled many a times on paper but the poems are still lying buried in your personal diary or scribbled haphazardly behind your office work pad. Or maybe you have been more audacious and have a poetry manuscript raring to go but no traditional publisher is willing to invest in the fluttering heart that you carry in your hands.
There is this fear and insecurity in the heart and mind of the budding poet, questions that trouble the writer: How do I kick-start my career as a poet? Who will publish my poems? Does anyone still care about poetry?
Since its inception, poetry is dealing with stiff competition from other forms of writing (novels, short-stories, novellas, self-help books, biographies etc.). However, poetry has always attracted readers from all walks of life. Be it young or old, men or women, those who read in Hindi or English. Poetry does not differentiate. It’s a reflection on our life and the very state of our existence. There are and will always be an audience for poetry as long as there is life itself!
Poems VS Novels
• While a novel may take you years to perfect, poetry writing is more of a spontaneous act! You don’t need to quit your job. You don’t need to do a lot of research. You can do it anytime, anywhere, in whatever little time you can manage!
• Reading poems does not require a lot of time! Therefore, it is more appealing to those who are used to consuming content in bite-sized 140 Twitter characters.
• The editing process is bound to take less time with a book of poetry! So you can have your published poetry book in your hands much sooner!
• And finally, the traditional publisher is bound to show an unwillingness to publish your poems over the sea of novels waiting to be printed. More so, if you’re an amateur poetor a newbie who has never published anything. With self-publishing, you cut the chances of such an unfair bias! And CAN get your poems published, after all!
For the already published writers!
On the other hand, if you’re already a published novelist and need a break before you start working on the second one, don’t shy away from experimenting or trying your hand at poetry!
All the top writers in the world have consistently experimented with different forms of writing. The great Rabindranath Tagore not only wrote novels and short stories but also a lot of poetry. Vikram Seth in addition to having written three novels has also published six books of poetry! Jeet Thayil is another contemporary Indian artist who has found success writing both poems and novels. The list goes on.
As a writer you should aim to extend your presence in the public imagination as much as you can. But a long interval between your first and second novel could possibly erase you from the modern reader’s short-lived memory given the endless choices available to them out there.
Writing and publishing poetry (which takes less time!) could not only enhance your creative faculties as an artist but also help you to keep your presence felt in this very competitive market and to retain and expand your readership.
Some Useful Tips/Suggestions for Aspiring Poets Who Want to Publish
• Write original and brilliant poems! That’s a first.
• Write on a topic that you feel passionate about.
• Write poems that are short, direct, and evoke a striking imagery in the minds of the readers. You could also have illustrations to accompany the poems to make them more appealing or have their Hindi or English translations side by side to rope in more readers!
• Choose a subject that is relevant to the times you live in. This way you double the chances of your poems to spark the reader’s interest, who is up-to-date with the current affairs.
Above all, don’t lose hope and keep writing!