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Eight Affirming Ways to Support Other Poets

On grad school applications, writing residencies requirements, and academic job posts, a new question is emerging: How do you engage with a larger writing community? It’s no longer just about writing strong literature, it’s also about being a strong literary citizen. In short, this means giving back to the organizations, institutions, and people who help your work flourish—whether that means attending a poetry slam or buying from area bookstores. Here are ten concrete, simple steps to amplify other poets.

 

Signal-boost their work on social media

If there’s one thing we know in our current literary landscape, it’s that social media can have serious reach and power. Follow poets you love on all your favorite platforms, and retweet or share when they publish new pieces. It may be easy, but it makes an impact by expanding their audiences.

 

Buy their books

Empower poets to support themselves through book sales and royalties—and show that you see writing as an important job by paying for it. Even if a store doesn’t have a poet’s work in stock, most—especially independent bookstores—will submit a special order. This also encourages them to stock the collection in the future.

 

Bring their work to your library shelves

On the other hand, if you’re not financially able to purchase the book of a poet you love, there’s another way to shed light on that amazing title. Talk to your local librarians, who may consider buying the book for you and future readers to enjoy. This how-to on Overdrive details the process for requesting e-books, and most local libraries have a similar page for physical releases.

 

Attend readings

Readings offer an in-person way to show your support. When a poet you know or love advertises a reading, show up—and even consider bringing friends as additional audience members.

 

Recommend their books or work to friends, classes, book clubs, etc.

Do you have a book club, a writing workshop, or the responsibility of deciding what books to teach in a classroom? Make your voice heard, and recommend a book by a favorite poet. Bonus: Many books include guides for discussion or teaching resources.

 

Workshop or serve as a reader

One of the best ways to support another poet’s work lies in serving as an honest and attuned reader. Workshopping with other poets can enhance the quality of both their writing and yours. Similarly, trusted beta readers read the first drafts of manuscripts to provide a much-needed outside perspective. Consider exchanging manuscripts—whether book-length, a chapbook contest entry, or magazine submissions—with another poet in your community. To be the most helpful reader possible, check out this guide on common workshop best practices, including how to balance compliments and constructive criticism. 

 

Host collaborative submission parties

We all know that putting your work out there can be scary. I’ve recently made it more fun and less daunting by hosting submission parties for my writer friends. These gatherings are exactly what they sound like: Instead of clicking “submit” alone, send off your work together—then celebrate with snacks and literary cocktails.

 

Spread resources

To grow as writers, we need to remain frequent readers. To support a poet in your life, recommend a book that addresses similar questions and themes as theirs, uses forms they’re attempting, or holds another lesson to teach them. Do you know a poet in your life working on a chapbook, a poem that could fit into a themed anthology, or wanting to submit to more magazines? When you see a call that applies to their work, send it their way and jumpstart their journey toward publication.