I originally wrote this resource for some A level students I was delivering workshops for in Lancashire, but I decided to give it a wider readership. When I was a teacher, I encouraged my students to submit their work to magazines and competitions, and relished seeing their confidence improve. But although there are many oportunities for poets, not all young people are aware of them. The advice below will apply to older poets as well, but I have focused it towards youth. At a later stage I will collate similar information for other groups.
All magazines and journals have websites, so it is easy to glean information about them. If possible read them. If you can’t afford to subscribe, source them at the library.
Postal submission: send no more than 6 poems, with your name and address on every page and an SAE big enough to hold all the poems for return. Use a simple font and A4 paper. Write a brief covering letter giving some brief info about yourself and why you chose that particular magazine. Keep a note of what you have sent out, the date you sent it and where you sent it, and update with a decision when it comes, because magazines hate multiple submissions.
Email submission: check guidelines on the websites carefully. Some want attachments, others want the poem pasted in the body of the email. Some print magazines allow email submission, others don’t. Again, your name and address should be on every piece you submit.
Foyle Young Poets, The Poetry Society (lots more magazines listed on their website), Young Poets Network (http://www.youngpoetsnetwork.org.uk/.)
Magazines for young writers: Astronaut Zine, Cuckoo Quarterly, Cadaverine
Other good magazines to read/subscribe to/ submit to:
Online: Ink Sweat and Tears, The Lake, Message in a Bottle, Popshot Magazine, The Undertow Review.
Print Magazines: The Interpreter’s House, Southlight, The Black Light Engine Room, Agenda, The Rialto, The North, Cake, Prole, Poetry Salzburg Review, The North, Smoke.
Please note: this is a starting point and the lists are not exhaustive.
There are also a lot of competitions. Many charge for entry but some have a young people’s competition free entry alongside the adult one. Check out Cathy’s Comps and Calls for free entry details. http://compsandcalls.com/Cathys_Comps_and_Calls/Welcome.html.
Some competitions are for young people only, for example The Christopher Towers and Foyle Young Poets. There are also lots of local competitions e.g. Wirral Festival of Firsts.
A Word of Warning
Apart from entering competitions, never pay for a magazine or publisher to read your work. Also beware of anthologies which expect you to buy a copy of the hardback, usually at a high price. This is a scam – they take every piece they are sent. The Forward Press is one example of these vanity publishers. http://www.forwardpoetry.co.uk/ Do not submit to them or confuse them with The Forward Prize anthology run by the same people who run National Poetry Day. Always check to ensure you are submitting somewhere reputable.
If your work comes back from the magazine, have a look at it, maybe do some more editing, then send it out to a different one. (that’s another reason why you need to keep track). If you get a handwritten message on the rejection slip, that means they did like your work; it is worth trying again at a later date. The more you submit, the more likely you are to be accepted. Never sulk or reply if you are rejected. Rejections happen to every poet. It’s not personal. It might mean the poems are not ready, they don’t suit that magazine, editors have accepted something too similar already and so on. Take it on the chin and move on.
And good luck!