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5 tips to make your submission stand out

We sit down with Salomée Lou to discuss 5 things that can make your submission stand out.

Submitting your writing can be a daunting thing to do, especially poetry. Poetry is such a personal art form, we poets love to pour our souls into it. With a high volume of submission and small teams behind the scenes to read through them, not every online journal or competition can provide some individual feedback and it can be disheartening when you put yourself out there and get a refusal without an explanation. 

As someone who has been both the poet submitting and the submission reader, I’m hoping that these will help!  Feel free to add anything you might think of in the comments section, and best of luck!

5 tips for making your poetry submission stand out 

• Play with forms and shapes.

Don’t be shy and experiment with different layouts for your poem. It’s all about finding the right balance: does the shape add anything to your poem? Why did you choose this particular form? It can definitely add another layer to your narrative, or sometimes it can take the reader outside of the piece, but it is always amazing to see people playing with the format.

•Be as specific as possible.

Of course you can write about love, anger, fear, and any emotions, but pick a particular scene where you felt angry, sad, or in love. Why is this experience unique to you? Why, as a reader, can I tell it is written by you and no one else? Take a detail and grind all the words out of it.

•Think about the emotional landscape of the piece.

Write down every word that relates somehow to the topic you want to explore. Don’t be scared to play with weird word combinations, they sometimes create the best images.

•Show don’t tell.

A (very basic) example: “She was cold” vs. “The biting wind was gnawing through her bones.”  This way, as readers, we are part of the experience, immersed.

•Writing and editing are two very different things

Write the piece down in one go. Take a break from it and go back later to edit. It will allow you to have a fresh perspective on the piece.

As always, please read the submissions guidelines carefully. We have tried our very best to make the instructions as clear and concise as possible, free from admin where we can.