Guide to Publishing Your Poetry in Literary Magazines

Getting published as a poet is hard and I can’t say I’ve done it many times myself (with just three published poems under my belt) however, I can give advice on what I’ve learned out there in the publishing world so far in 6 simple steps.

  1. Choosing your literary magazine

    This is my favorite resources, it’s basically every recognized literary magazine in the US. You can narrow the search with filters (I usually filter mine by who accepts simultaneous submissions)
    This is another great resource for finding places to publish your poetry, but I would be careful. A lot of places ask for $5-15 under titles like “24 Hour Submissions, Immediate Response,” but plan to reject everyone who submits within this period without reading their work.

    In my experience, legitimate magazines/publications either do not ask for money or encourage a small donation, but rarely have I see a required payment above $3. 


    If you haven’t been published before, go for smaller literary magazines that tend to publish debuts or up-and-coming writers! Also, you can always send your poem to smaller and larger magazines to see what happens— just make sure both magazines accept simultaneous submissions

    If you have been published before, go for the larger ones fearlessly! Flaunt your accomplishments in your cover letter (if requested) and let your work shine. 


    Nothing annoys an editor more than reading work that clearly does not fit in with the style of the magazine. After narrowing down publications based on size, do so by style.

    Usually in the guideline section, publication list what their expectations are when reading submitted poetry.

    Read the work of multiple poets on their website before submitting your own
    Subscribe to their newsletter if the option is given!

    If you write in multiple styles, submit different work to each publication based on what fits! If the publication seems to publish multiple styles, send multiple styles if you want!

    If the magazine tends to publish work in meter and rhyme and you write in free verse or prose, try a different magazine.
  2. Quick, final workshop

    There’s a few last minute touch-ups I always make before I submit my work!
    Read out loud to check for: rhythm, word choice, and typos
    Take out unnecessary “the’s”
    Take out unnecessary “I’s”
    Remove “to be” verbs

  3. Format
    • Use Times New Roman size 12 font, single space (unless requested otherwise).
    • On page 1, put your contact information in the top left corner, skip a couple of spaces and place your cover letter.
    • Place your first poem on page 2, only put one poem per page.
      • If your poems is longer than two pages, clarify whether the page break indicates a stanza break or not.
    • Write the title of your poem in all caps, skip 2-3 spaces, then place your poem.

  4. Write cover letter

    Usually, a publication will tell you what information they want in a cover letter (or if they even want a cover letter).
    If they do not list what they’re expecting in a cover letter, keep it professional! List academic, creative, and work related achievements. Don’t list hobbies, dreams, likes/dislikes.

    For example:
    Jane Doe is 100 years old and from city, state/country. She graduated summa cum laude from the Best University with a BA in poetry. List any other academic achievements. Jane Doe has been published in Magazine 1 2017, Magazine 2 2020, and Magazine 3 2021. List any other field related achievements Currently, Jane works at a job while using her free time to work on her next chapbook/poetry collection/artistic endeavor.

  5. Read guidelines

    Okay, so everything I’ve said up until now is completely valid unless the magazine states otherwise!

    Always make sure to read the submission guidelines of each magazine. Some will ask you remain anonymous, some will ask for 3 poems, some will ask for 5, some will ask for PDF files and others for .docx only, etc.

    Even if a magazine does not accept your submission, they will appreciate that you followed the guidelines and remember that fact when you submit in the future!

  6. Organize
    1. Keep four folders:
      1. Poems submitted for publication (and where they’ve been submitted to).
      2. Poems accepted at a publication
      3. Unpublished, ready poems
      4. Unpublished poems still in workshop mode

Spring Prompts

by Ellen Gwin

This season’s prompts will focus on personification and the themes of rebirth/growth that come with spring.

Quick reminders
Personification can be used in poetry:
1. Take the viewpoint of the object
2. Make Multiple objects speak to the speaker or reader
3. Convey abstract concepts

Use the prompt titles, prompt descriptions, etc. as you please— whatever moves you, go with it! 


Metamorphosis can spring a lot of different ideas to people from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to the film The Metamorphosis right down to the biological term.

In nature, a metamorphosis is a physical change creatures undergo after their initial birth (or hatching). For example, tadpoles turning into frogs or caterpillars into butterflies.

Humans undergo multiple metamorphic (and literal– though acute in comparison to that of amphibians and insects) metamorphoses in their lives.

Write from the perspective of a tadpole becoming a frog or a caterpillar into a butterfly. Keep in mind not all is bad for the tadpole/caterpillar just as not all is perfect for the frog/butterfly.

2. Reborn in Fire

Many modern and historical references can be made to a rebirth in fire:

In Greek Mythology phoenixes are said to live for 500 years before burning into ash and being reborn into a new, baby bird.
In Shakespeare’s Henry VIII Queen Katherine says, “My drops of tears I’ll turn to sparks of fire.”

A modern reference includes Collins’ Hunger Games where a common theme is Katniss reborn in fire.
Also, in Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, Serena burns the house to the ground before starting on a new path.

Write from the perspective of either:
1. All consuming fire
2. An object you cling to bursting into flames
3. A living being (a witch, a phoenix, a cockroach) reborn in fire

igna natura renovatur integra — through fire, nature is reborn whole.

3. Morphing Moon

One could look at the moon from many different perspectives: the light thief, only a reflection, fickle, bringer of tsunamis, guider of sea turtles– but in the context of rebirth, one can look to the phases of the moon.

The moon begins whole, shining bright, then slowly it dwindles or hides itself throughout the month by becoming a crescent, before coming back again as the new moon– a rebirth.

One could view the moon as a good teacher
One could view the moon as ancient and resilient
One could view the moon as one that is many, not one
One could view the moon as many, many things.

Write from the perspective of the moon: the fading light, the decision to shine again, etc.

4. Spring Serenades

So many creatures making noises indicative of growth and life appear in the spring!

1. Give the bugs & bunnies around you voices
2. Make the wind whisper and the sun sing
3. Convey the mood of the scene through them
4. Convey your inner monologue through them
5. Discuss ideas of nature or timeless truths through them

5. In the beginning…

Write on an origin story from any religion:
Genesis from the Bible
The greek belief of Chaos
Either Devi (Tantras) or Vishnu (Puranas)

Give your own perspective:
Write from the perspective of a snake (original sin)
Write from the perspective of Devi (matter) or Vishnu (mind)
Write from the perspective of Chaos (or the entities that followed)

6. Rain Rain Go Away

In the context of spring, water could symbolize many different ideas and is therefore a fun vehicle for conveying your thoughts in poetry!

Water could refer to the rain which helps plants grow, washes away the grime (baptism), sets a dreary mood, etc.
Water could refer to lakes to fish in, rivers to swim in, oceans to surf in, etc.

Write from the POV of water of any kind that you find in the springtime!

7. Apollo’s Precious Petals

In Greek Mythology, Hyancinth was a mortal admired by the god of sun, Apollo, the god of west wind, Zephyrus, and the god of north wind, Boreas. Hyacinth chose Apollo over the rest and they began to go on beautiful, luxorious adventures together.
One day, out of jealousy, while Apollo and Hyacinth played discuss, Zephyrus blew the wind so hard that the discuss killed Hyacinth.
In grief, Apollo created a flower from Hyacinth’s spilled blood so that the memory of his beauty would last forever.

Write from the perspective of the hyacinth flower.

8. What I Imagine in Spring

Create a character who symbolizes spring to you:
This could be a fairy who helps gardens grow
A witch who brings dead creatures back to life
A newborn infant discovering life
A rain goddess

3 Ways to Use Alliteration

by Ellen Gwin

What is alliteration?
Alliteration is the repetition of consonants (and sometimes vowels) at the beginning of two or more consecutive words. 

What about consonance and assonance?
Consonance is the repetition of solely consonants throughout consecutive words. These words can go at the beginning or in the middle of a word. 
Assonance is the repetition of solely vowels throughout consecutive words. These words can go at the beginning or middle of a word. 

1.To set the mood
Different sounds are linked with different connotations; one can use this concept to their advantage in poetry.
For Example:
S’s bring about a mood that feels whispered and intimate (or a snake-like)
H’s to makes the poem sound soft, hushed, or breathy 
R’s sound “French” and romantic (or like pirates)
B’s & P’s seem to boom or pop out loudly

2. Because it sounds pleasant
The repetition of consonants (or in some cases, vowels) sounds pleasing to the ear. This is because it provides a sense of rhythm to the poem and indicates how it should be read. This provided rhythm allows the reader to feel more closely connected to the work.
For Example:
The bumbling bear bellowed behind a beehive.
Slither snakes spoke of sinister stories.
Fiddling foxes found refuge in Finland.

3. To grab readers’ attention
One can use alliteration to simply draw attention to a specific set of alliterative words or
One can use alliteration to draw attention to themes throughout your poem through the use of alliteration at key moments with similar ideas in mind.