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Querying Poets Should Start Small

Every so often I get calls from unpublished poets wanting to query a poetry collection. My sense is that as the book market shrinks overall, poetry releases are fewer and fewer, and those collections being published are largely collections of established poets’ work (see American Wake and At the Forest Edge from NewSouth).

I’m surprised by how many querying poets want to propose a collection before any of their poems have been published independently. For a new poet, the place to start is by getting your poems published in magazines–generally nationally distributed–such that when you send a query to an editor, you can show an impressive list of places the poems have already appeared. Essentially, it’s your “way in”–as hard as it is for poets right now, an editor is more likely to give your poems a second look if they have another venue’s stamp of approval.

If anyone can recommend good journals or literary magazines for new poets, preferably national and print-based, please leave a comment. Thanks!