Thursday, 15 October 2015


As poets, we have a natural huge to have our work been read and appreciated. We desire to earn respect and for some earn money from our writings. We want people in other nations of the world to reads our works. We want people to take our creativity serious when we write it out in poetry.

Typically, a poet wants beyond uncritical Facebook likes of our beloved fellow poets who often than not praise our piece in excitement. That’s good!

As deemed implied above, a poet especially budding poets definitely has a desire to have his or her poems in a book. Sadly, in Nigeria for instance, it’s as though a complete goodbye had been bade to traditional publishers hence those would desire to be published authors pay for production. This is the obstacle why many good poets remain unpublished. The publishing industry is monopolistic. The Big Poets remain big and celebrate and the budding poets can hardly meet up with the economies of scale. The newly published poets are faced with higher production cost per unit than the more successful authors.

Having spent over literally eight hours today sorting, rating, editing and correcting lots of poems by poets from different parts of the global. I sense the difference in styles of different poet and the different standards of penning prowess of different poets.

Adjudging on the basis of the above illustration, many poet sought rescue in group anthologies. They submit their work only to get turned down. The never cease to wonder why their work is not always selected among the best.
I which I got a platform to explain this verbally. This is typed off hand at top speed straight from the heart. Some poets need to learn. I speak not as one who knows better than all but as one who observed a couple of things other may not have come across. I consider it wise to share some of the dos and don’ts to be observed when you are submitting your work for an anthology. These are but my own personal opinion. You can add yours.

1. Ensure you double-check your work before submission and it's wiser if you ask another poet friend to critique your piece for you before submission.

2. Conform STRICTLY to the rule. The curator has hundreds of poems to select a few from. If you do not conform to the rules strictly, it would make it more difficult for the curator compiling the poems to assess your work. He may end up deleting your piece to save time.

3. If the instruction says attach as a document file, do not assume that your work can still be accessed if you turn it in as a body of the email and vice versa.

4. I recalled wanting to tag a particular poet to announce him as part of the winners in our last Love Poem Competition, and then I found he is not on my friend list. I searched for him but to no avail. it took me extra effort searching through my stack of mails to access him. Though we have adopted a better strategy for contacting poets when the need arises but I think it helps if you keep in touch with the curator of the anthology on social media.

5. Even if the curator is a poet friend of yours, for the purpose of the submission, you have to understand he is a separate entity hence don't assume he knows your name or should get it through your email or that he has your contact already.

6. Do not use the word 'I' in your biography. This is the most common blunders I sensed in many submissions. Doing that sells you off to be amateur in penning. Hey! You are a pro bro and sis. Write your bio in third person i.e. instead of writing 'I am a graduate of Estate Management...' write 'He is a graduate of Estate Management...'

7. If there is a mistake e.g. you did not include your bio. Contact the curator to notify him/her ASAP. Then resend the whole submission afresh as one single document. This may not apply in all cases but does in most.

8. Read a couple of the piece writing by the compiler. Check out some of their best works. This would give you a hint to their perception of what good poetry is. You don't have to bend your own style but you need to understand how the judges think.

9. My poem didn't appear in the wonderful Anthology, 'Who Shall I Make My Wife?'. The reasons being: 1. I didn't understand what the judges want. I thought the concentration was to use food to analyse Nigeria as a Nation until I read the sample 'Amala and Abula' by a curator, Kolade. I had to re-write a new poem 'My Eba's Journey' but hey! I didn't meet the submission deadline. Let every poets learn from this, it is good to turn in your work on time as stipulated be the call for submission.

10. Your poem should conform to the theme of the book to be publish. If you submit a wonderful Peace poem when the curator wants poems about religion, that would be but a sorry case ooo

11. Ensure the economy is well used. I know of wonderful spoken word artistes like Vic' Adex whose works still pass for a brilliant page poem. On problem I observed is that some poets (especially spoken word artiste) do not give a damn about the 'economy of words'. Such work will be great on stage but may be a no-no for publication on book page. Another thing I would like to say is, adhere strictly to the numbers of lines. Don't play smart squeezing it us by join two line together thereby having an abnormal longer line too contrasted for others.

12. Be formal. I remember we had to jettison the idea of poets sending in pictures for one of our publications. Reason been that some poets send in pictures of low quality, some even sent in pic mix picture. Dear poets, Facebook is our family home hence anything goes but when your work is to be published in a BOOK, go official (formal). Brand yourself right. Good luck poets!

Do not be selfish, if you learn a thing from this, kindly share for others to profit too.

Abegunde Sunday Olaoluwa (SPEAKING PEN)
Nigerian Author, Public Speaker & Poet