Climbing the Poet Ladder of Success: What is PWT?

POETRY WORLD TIME (PWT)-half past three lifetimes

Most successes we have as poets are ones the real world doesn't understand anyway, but even if they could, we can't really share them in real time.  We get to share our accomplishments in Poetry World Time (PWT), which means a small burst of excitement when you learn you won or will be printed, delayed by months or years, until your work is printed. PWT is slower than geological time,  glacial time or Biblical time.

Poets must be masters of delayed gratification.  Twitter, Facebook, instant 24 hour news and movies have groomed a society of people who expect and need instant gratification, but poets stand alone going against the tide.  Is that because we are different from everyone else?  Is that because we are better than others?  Or, could it be because of how the poetry business works?


-I recently showed a poem to my hair dresser who chocked up, got all excited and said she wanted to buy the book this poem is printed in.  I explained that it won a state award and would be in an anthology not available really to the general public and it wouldn't even be printed there for a year! A little difficult to close the sale when the customer is ready to buy if the product can't be made available for a year.  However, I don't own the copyright on the poem, if I want it printed, until after the book is printed so I can't even distribute it myself.

 -An editor of an international journal emailed back that one of my submitted poems for a contest was MAGNIFICENT!  But she doesn't judge the contest and the results will not be known for six months.  Hard to share that excitement when it may lead no where and even if it does publication will be months away.

-At a Poetry Festival recently one of the more experienced members of the group, actually an editor at Bat City Review, said that some of her poems were accepted up to 18 months after submission.


Poets climb a ladder that doesn't exit to a place that isn't there to reach a success that no one has ever seen or can identify. Well, we are poets so I guess if anyone should climb invisible nonexistent ladders it should be us, the scribes of things others can't see. Besides that, most of us don't write to climb the ladder or reach success, but we do yearn for our work to reach its audience and move their souls and most of us are quite willing to see our work recognized long after we are gone. So maybe we are truly the world's best at delayed gratification. Or, publishers know this and have decided that giving us some credit while we are alive should be gratification enough for any poet.
We hunger for someone to validate our work as poets, but we know that it might not come in our lifetime.  Yet, we climb on in search of an invisible success, what little there is.  Even the best poets write their successes in sand that the waters of time constantly wash over and take out to sea. The one thing I know about poets and writers is that most of us write because we breathe and to feed the sea as the sand slips through the hands of Poetry World Time.


Poet on Poetry: Masturbatory Poetry is Only Fun for One

Poet on Poetry: Masturbatory Poetry is Only Fun for One

Top 50 Literary Magazines

Check out this blog post to see the list of the top 50 Literary Magazines. 

Why Are Hispanics so Under Represented in Poetry?

Love is so short, forgetting is so long. Pablo Neruda

Is Poetry Racist?

In 2006, the Poetry Foundation commissioned the first national, in-depth survey of people’s attitudes towards and experience with poetry. A startling finding was that Hispanics don’t read poetry.  I was puzzled as to why that would be with such great poets as Pablo Neruda and Jorge Louis Burges. 

Two of the Hispanic professionals who work at my salon gave me a little insight when I mentioned this finding to them.  They seemed ashamed and apologetic, explaining that Hispanics really don’t get involved in the arts and culture much. Living in Austin, Texas with a vibrant Hispanic culture, alive with Tejano, mariachi, and Spanish art, I knew Hispanics embraced the arts in other ways. 

Language Issue

I don’t think the absence of interest by Hispanics is due to a lack of interest in culture or arts: it is a language issue.  Every time I visit, one of these Hispanic professionals always asks if I brought a poem for her to read.  I offered a poem I wrote that just won a state award about the death of my sister.  After reading halfway through she clutched her chest and said, “I’m going to cry.”  I remained silent knowing that she had just paid me the ultimate compliment-my poem was speaking to her.  She handed it back to me and said, “I want to buy the book this poem goes in.”  She raced to the front of the salon to show it to the officer manager as I checked out, pulling her away from the busy front desk to urge her to read it, explaining how it touched her.

I don’t write to be commercial or to anyone in particular.  I write because I breathe and because words can heal, inspire and entertain.  I don’t expect anyone to invest in my poetry to understand it, anymore than I would expect someone to do that with music I played, visual art that I created, or the screenplay I wrote.  Would you pay $10.00 for a movie you don’t understand, or $25.00  for a book that must be read two or three times to understand it, if then?

Is Shakespeare to Blame?

Many culture bred fanatics like to point to Shakespeare as the ultimate evidence of good writing that we should aspire too.  First, there was only one Shakespeare and much of what is being written in poetry journals today is not even close, failing to connect with the reader on any level.  Shakespeare wrote with many levels of meaning.  Second, they forget that Shakespeare actually wrote works that on their surface could be understood by the uneducated bawdy peasants in the pits below the stages.  He didn’t address all of his work only to the upper class sitting in the balconies.  The brilliance of Shakespeare was that he was understood by the uneducated and the educated.  Shakespeare specifically wrote to his audiences, both of them, not to please only himself.

If English is your second language, grasping standard English is hard enough without trying to understand the nuances of inferred meanings and riddles in contemporary poetry, which fails to find an audience on any level.  Maybe the reason more Hispanics don’t bother with poetry is because poetry doesn’t bother with them.

The assimilation of Hispanics in American culture is not a simple matter.  In talking to my hair stylist and other Hispanics at my salon, I learned that one couldn’t really read Spanish comfortably, so it is not a simple matter of letting her read someone like Pablo Neruda in Spanish.  Yet, poetry that is in English and tries to speak on many levels would read like Greek to her, as it does to me a native English reader.

Do We Care About Peasants and Kings?

So, why is it that Hispanics are not involved more heavily in the poetry world?  Could our elitist view of the “peasants” be part of the problem?  Could our Ivory Tower fixation on nuanced, multi-level poetry be shutting out huge parts of the population?

I hope to continue to reach all people with my writing, because poetry belongs in the hearts and minds of the people, not merely in the dusty rarely read poetry journals coming out of ivory towers that preach diversity without fully considering what it means for art to be diverse.

Viva la poetry in the hands of people who love it so much they cry and insist that others read it too!

Quotes on Poetry

To write poetry, you don't have to like it.  John Kinsella (Australian poet), Agenda, Summer 2003

People are completely justified in their fears or their antipathy toward poetry, because much of it is emotionally serious, but also emotionally miserable as well as being incomprehenisble, and that's a kind of deadly combination.
                                                                                                                            Billy Collins, Planet Jackson Hole online, May 29, 2007

Too many contemporary poems start small and end smaller.  They don't bite off more than they can chew-they bite off so little they don't need to chew.                                                                             William Logan, Contemporary Poetry Review, August 2002


How to Pick on Online Writing Course

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Decompmagazine is Looking for a Prose Editor

From the Editor-in-Chief

By Jason Jordan

Welcome to our May 2011 issue, featuring new work from Lisa Marie Basile, Tyson Bley, Barbara Crooker, Aaron Delehanty, Sarah Rose Etter, Annie Hartnett, Mikko Harvey, Dennis Mahagin, Adam Moorad, Ken Poyner, Becca Rosenthal, Seth Seppala, Ray Shea, Charles Shields, Matthew Sinex, Ben Tanzer, M. Thompson, and Gerald Yelle. Additionally, we have reviews of Ben Tanzer's You Can Make Him Like You and Pui Ying Wong's Yellow Plum Season. Thanks for reading!

Also, we're sad to say goodbye to our prose editor Brad Green. We wish him the best, of course. As a result of his departure, we're looking for a new prose editor. If you're interested in reading prose submissions, e-mail us with a CV and why you want the job.

Finally, we're entering the last month of our Kickstarter campaign to fund decomP onE: Please consider donating (read: pre-ordering) if you'd like to have a print issue. No matter what happens, we plan to continue publishing excellent online issues.

Top Jobs for Writers

Check out this list of jobs for writers.
Prizes: First: $50.00, Second: $25.00, Third: $15.00, Plus Honorable Mentions
First, Second, Third, and selected Honorable Mention and Special Mentions winning poems will be published in future issues of the WRITERS' Journal.


Annual Deadlines:
April 30, August 30, December 30
Reading Fee:
U.S. funds only
Send Entries to:
(Multiple entries from one party may be mailed in one envelope.)
"Poetry Contest"
Val-Tech Media
P.O. Box 394
Perham, MN 56573

Please make checks or money orders payable to:
WRITERS' Journal
Submissions must be postmarked by the deadline date. Entries postmarked after a deadline date will automatically be placed in the subsequent contest.