Popular Poems

pressWhat makes a poem popular? That’s truly a difficult question, as each individual has their own feelings and preferences regarding the type of poetry they enjoy. Still, if you examine the larger picture, looking at trends throughout the industry, you’ll notice certain consistencies regarding which poems seem to do ‘better’ than others. However, one needs also to consider that much of what gets published in modern journals, magazines, and other media is determined by the publishing policy of that particular publisher. It isn’t necessarily what’s popular with the readers, so much as what is convenient for the journal’s editor. Your own experiences may also be different. If you’re a poet who is trying to get pieces published, look at your own acceptance and rejection notices to see if you spot any particular trends worth noting.

by Emily Dickinson


One of the first things to consider when determining the popularity of poetry is the length of the piece. Let’s face it, print media has limited amounts of space available. Even with internet publishing, what appeals to the eye is much more important that the content or quality of the writing. A well written, high quality piece will likely be passed over in favor of a more common piece if the length is more appropriate for the editor’s page space. If there was a ‘standard’ that seems to have any consistency within the publishing industry, it’s if the poem fits on one page, then that it is acceptable — anything longer than a page usually finds its way into the rejection pile. Is that necessarily fair? Of course not. However, there are alternatives that the poem might consider. In this digital age, self publishing is not the costly and difficult prospect that it once used to be. Electronic books, high quality computer graphics programs, and color printers allow for some very fine self publishing opportunities. There is still the issue of marketing your works, but at least you have them in print.



How you format your product is also of importance — at least to editors. The issue of space comes into play again when you use double spacing for your poem. Editors are looking at how much white space is being used, and will prefer a single spaced piece over the double spaced one. Also, if you are sending yours in with it centered or left-justified seems to have in impact as well in contemporary poem publishing. It seems that most of the poems that are getting published today are those which are left justified. Centered poems and those with creative or ‘artsy’ formats tend to be rejected, in part, because they take more effort in typesetting, even with modern-day computerized presses.

The Reasoning of Love
by Amanullah Khan


Whether the poem rhymes or not seems to be less predictable for odds of getting published. Although there are certainly many publishers today who prefer the standard rhyming lines of verse, free form poetry seems to have a favored spot among others. This is one of those instances where you, the poet, needs to select a style that works for your own creative purposes. Perhaps the most important point to make here, is that you should trust your own instincts. You are the poet. Write what YOU consider do be most important, including how long the piece is, how it’s formatted, and what style you use in creating it. Set your own trends!

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