Posting Poems

You may be asking yourself, (or probably not), “Why hasn’t Sarah been posting poems lately?” And the truth of the matter is I haven’t written any lately – it’s been a busy late summer and fall, and with all this life happening, writing isn’t. But also, I have been thinking about this blog and the posting of poems, and I’m a little unsure how to proceed with the posting of poems.

You see, there are many respected journals that say things like, “No previously published work, anywhere, at all, online or off-line.” But they never say, “especially blogs” or “in particular, blogging and social networking sites,” which leaves me wondering whether a blog is considered a form of publication. It is certainly a form of distribution, and rarely do I post a finished product. Usually it is a fresh idea, first draft sort of poem. My revision process is always done privately and then sent out to journals and people I know will give me good feedback on stuff.

I’ve talked about this here before – the underlying issue is not whether so-and-so will publish this poem because it previously appeared somewhere else, the issue is, who am I writing these things for? What is the point? Am I seeking only public acknowledgement for whatever truths or stories I’ve discovered through the writing, or am I looking to share the fiddlings and meditations I’ve put into verse with those I love and the other people who happen to stumble upon this blog? And is there something to preserving poetics until it is in its final form to be revealed later?

Another poet I admired during the poem-a-day project did something of a compromise: she would post her poem today and then tomorrow, when she was ready to post a new one, she’d go back to that previous post, delete the previous poem, and put *Poof!* in the poem’s place. I’ve done this with some of the poems that have been accepted for publication places, because for one thing the originals on here are but wintry shadows compared to the revised versions, and also because the journal has a right that I’ve granted to be the first place or only place to publish that particular poem. I like this idea and I think it gets me out of the “previously published elsewhere” issue – it’ll only appear for 24 hours and then bye-bye, poem online!

What do you think? Poets out there, do you think there are issues with publishing poems on the internet, specifically blogs, before sending them out to journals? Are there any experts out there who know the “rules”? And should I care about these rules? Do you care? 😉

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

3 thoughts on “Posting Poems

  1. i've pondered the same questions – i write to be heard and blogging gets the verse out there – i may die before my poems are read – so i post them sometimes and *poof* them sometimes – just recently I reposted some of my newer ones and they all appeared on the same day so I went back in and changed the dates – after reading this i might go back and *poof* the older ones and just keep on up at a time again – thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  2. What I've been told periodically is that it depends on your blog traffic. If you get a trickle, it doesn't really count. If you get hundreds of visitors a day, then you could have issues in this regard.


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