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Advice for emerging poets

National-Poetry-Library 03

Image Credit: 
Pete Woodhead

National-Poetry-Library 03

Image Credit: 
Pete Woodhead

If you write poetry as an outlet for your feelings and purely for yourself, that’s great. But if you’ve got ambitions to get your writing in front of other people, or possibly into print, we’ve got some tips to help you get started, to improve your work, and point you in the right direction.

Read and listen to as much poetry as you can

This way, you will learn what went before you, what works for readers. Don't expect to like or even understand everything you read. If it bores you or is irrelevant simply close the book and move on. You haven’t wasted your time. You are learning worthwhile lessons of what to avoid in your own writing. Along the way you will find many wonderful poets that will inspire you to keep writing as they entertain and move you. As well as your local library’s poetry collection, you can borrow ebooks from the National Poetry Library.

Borrowing ebooks

Go to events

Poetry doesn’t just exist on the page – it is happening in spaces all over the country, probably not too far from where you live. You can see our lists of upcoming events.


Get Googling

Find out what’s happening in your area by looking up writing courses, local writing groups, poetry readings and slams and other poetry websites. Your public library should also be able to help you with local information.

Get advice from ‘how to’ books

There are a lot of books available on the art of writing poetry. Some are listed below. These books may be available at your local public library.

  • Lavinia Greenlaw, How to write poetry (Guardian News and Media, 2008)
  • Chris Hamilton-Emery, 101 ways to make poems sell : the Salt guide to getting and staying published (Salt Publishing, 2006)
  • Jessie Lendennie, Poetry : reading it, writing it, publishing it (Salmon Poetry, 2009)
  • Helena Nelson, How to get your poetry published (Happenstance, 2009)
  • Helena Nelson, How (not) to get your poetry published (Happenstance, 2016)
  • Fred Sedgwick, How to write poetry and get it published (Continuum, 2002)
  • Matthew Sweeney & John Hartley Williams, Write poetry and get it published (Hodder Education, 2010)
  • Debbie Taylor, Indie press guide: the Mslexia guide to small and independent book publishers and literary magazines in the UK and Republic of Ireland (Mslexia Publications, 2018)

Enter competitions

Competitions are a great way to find out what other people think of your work, and there are many to enter. We compile a list, which is updated regularly.


Send your poems to magazines

Many poetry magazines take submissions and are a first route into publishing for a lot of poets. The National Poetry Library compiles a list of some of the titles, which is updated regularly.


Join the Poetry Society

The Poetry Society exists to promote the appreciation of poetry, and is a great way to meet other poets as well as discover education and commissioning programmes, performances and readings.

The Poetry Society

Join the Young Poets Network

Run by the Poetry Society, this network supports young, emerging poets with advice and company, as well as a programme of events.

Young Poets Network

Good luck!