Why Do I Write: Only Old Poems?

So I realized as I was posting some of my poems and queing up some more to be posted later, I realized that people might have questions about why all the poems I be putting on this blog are a) from last year/a couple of years ago or b) are marked as unpublished with a reason why they won’t be published as stand-alone poems.

Here’s why: Traditional publishers are more likely than not to refuse to take already published poems unless they are publishing them as part of a collection (so in a chapbook, anthology, or a full-length book). In this modern day and age, traditional publishers (both big and small presses) are beginning to aquire first-time or one-time rights to not only the print-published version of the poem you submit to them, but also the first-time/one-time electronic rights to that poem. That means that a poem that is ‘universally distributed’ or ‘published’ (read: posted) on a blog of any sort is unfit to be submitted to traditional publishers.

So to submit these kinds of poems, you have to find EVERYWHERE you posted that poem, take it down, and potential have everyone who has ever reblogged or shared that specific poem of yours on the internet take the poem down as well.

Seeing as that is a potential huge pain in the butt, I have opted to only publish on this blog two kinds of poems:

1. Those that have already been published in some way. They will have the ‘shortened’ version of the publication credit beneath them (the name of the journal/magazine/newspaper etc plus the year it was published) and in the section of my blog titled ‘Where to Find Me’ I will have a list of all of the publications in their longer, more legal form. Though all one-time rights revert to the author upon publication, it’s always good to give a nod towards those who have been kind enough to publish you.

2. Those that, if submitted for publishing, will only be published as part of a full manscript or will not be submitted for publishing at all. Most publishers accept ‘previously published poems’ as parts of full-manuscripts (as long at the whole manuscript has not been previously published) and so it would be safe to submit them there. These kinds of poems are not poems that I think are not good enough for publication, but often have an extremely narrow topic or theme that I a) haven’t written enough about to create a themed chapbook out of or b) there isn’t a specifc market for that kind of poem among the journals and magazines that accept single-poems for publication. They are poems that go wonderfully into longer manuscripts to keep the flavor of the entire thing fresh, but don’t stand alone in any one genre that there is a niche for.


I promise I have been writing more recent things. I will try to post as many of those as I can afford to, but know that I am limited in that because of my dreams of being traditionally published.

But at least now you know.

2 thoughts on “Why Do I Write: Only Old Poems?

  1. yes its a problem posting material you might want to submit for publication or competition elsewhere. But here in Australia opportunities for publishing poetry are so limited I figure the hell with it I’ll just put everything up, and like you said, I can always take it down while I’m submitting something.
    I guess the question is whether you want to be seen more than you want to be paid. But again, making money from poetry? Good luck with that!

    • Haha true that. If I really thought I was going to make a living out of poetry, I would have checked myself into a mental institution looong ago. For me, going the traditional publishing route is more of a personal challenge than it is a money-making thing. Kind of a ‘can I do it’ deal. I’ve been showcasing my poetry for awhile online and it’s gotten a small following and good reviews but I can honestly just go to an open mic or to my university’s poetry club meetings for the whole being heard part of it. And I will put pieces on this blog that are a)published or b) I just want to put up, to hell with it. I’d like to see how far I can push myself though, and striving for a national distribution publication, payment nonwithstanding, is to me the next step for that.

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