If you’re new to the poetry scene, the idea of the “poetry community” can sound large, vague, and even intimidating. Rather than imagining yourself as an outsider coming in, imagine yourself as the builder of your own poetry community. Making connections with fellow poets—especially poets outside our current social circle or experience—is a great way to build each other up, exchange feedback and experience, and broaden our horizons. Whether you do this online or IRL, think of it as a chance to make new friends. If you’re ready to jump in with an open mind, here are six tips to help you make new connections in the poetry community.
Twitter allows you to interact with writers across different experience levels, points-of-view, geographic locations, and backgrounds. Start by following poets you admire, then use the suggestions that come up to discover other poets whose work you may not be familiar with. You can also follow journals, publishers, and poetry sites that you enjoy. The nice thing about twitter is that you have nothing to lose. If you’re interested in someone’s work or point-of-view, reach out and let them know! There are plenty of writers out there just like you hoping to make a new friend in the biz.
Bonus tip: If you already have a Twitter feed crowded with non-poetry-related accounts, consider starting a separate one just for your writerly activities. A thoughtfully curated feed will help keep you and your twitter algorithm focused on poetry-related people and posts.
Drop-in at an open mic
Poetry open mic nights and slam poetry events often thrive on a sense of community. Taking the stage requires courage, and poets are usually incredibly supportive of new performers. Even if you choose not to perform, you can still meet new people. Open mics are often in bars or cafes, which are great for socializing. If you loved someone’s performance, let them know! If you have a question, just ask! Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. Remember, you already have something in common with every stranger in the room—it’s poetry!
Bonus tip: Many slam poetry groups have teams that compete on local, regional, and even national levels. Rehearsing and traveling together often brings the team closer. If you’re up for the challenge and ready to be part of the group, consider finding ways to join!
Check out a Reddit thread
Reddit is an interesting place where folks can do a deep dive and meet like-minded thinkers in just about any topic—poetry is no exception. There are dozens of subreddits for poets and writers to browse. Whether you’re looking for feedback, conversations about technique and form, or recommendations on new poetry, you’re sure to find a topic and a group to connect with.
Bonus tip: You have the option to remain anonymous. If you’re workshopping a poem or collection that feels deeply personal or you’re just not comfortable putting your name on it right now, you can gather feedback on Reddit without disclosing your identity.
Join a writers’ group
Check your local library, colleges, writers’ organizations, coffee shops, and even Facebook groups in your area to see when and where writers in your area are meeting. If you find a group that you think you could hit it off with, reach out and let them know you’d like to join. Weekly or monthly meetings with a group of poet friends can help hold you accountable for making progress in your work, or just give you something to look forward to on a regular basis.
Attend a writers’ workshop
If you’re not ready to commit to a weekly or monthly get-together, consider a one-off workshop or writers’ retreat. You can check your local library, college, or writers’ organizations to find a poetry workshop that suits your needs. Workshops are great because the attendees have a common goal to improve their writing, whether they want to build new habits, break down writers’ block, or make some headway on a new project.
Bonus tip: If you’re having trouble finding a writer’s workshop that meets your needs, consider forming your own!
Be strategic with hashtags
This final tip is more about the how than the where. Be sure to use relevant hashtags to help you find and share the right content. Following hashtags on Instagram and Twitter can help you see more content from folks outside of your following list. Using them appropriately on your own content can help others find you, too. Be sure to pay attention to what other people are hashtagging so you can hop on new writing trends, monthly challenges, and other fun and timely social media tags.