Resources for Poets in Solano County
- If you can memorize a song, you can memorize a poem. Repeat it until it feels natural. Record yourself and listen ad nauseum like you would with a song, and then try repeating it. If you forget a line, don’t worry, because most times no one else knows the words anyways. Just go with it.
- Some poets read fast and passionate. Others read slowly. Find what sounds good to you. Just vary your intonation to emphasize importance, and look up at the crowd on occasion.
- Watch and study professionals: established poets, comedians, talk show hosts, clergy, musicians, etc. Subtly imitate.
- Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse. Read your work out loud by yourself, to family, and at open mics.
- Time your work. You will need to know how long your poem is to create a feature set and to be professional in an open mic setting with time limits. Don’t be the person who disrespects others by going over time.
A useful link if you time your sets: www.grun1.com/utils/timeCalc.html
Solano County Open mics
Below are ongoing Solano County open mics for poets and spoken word artists. Be aware that some may not meet on major holidays, so it’s best to google their individual pages.
Poetry by The Bay: [4 minutes per artist, multiple rounds per show, open mic, occasional guest hosts, list stays open for latecomers] Hosted by Jeremy Snyder. Meeting via zoom every Thursday at 9 PM For more information visit www.facebook.com/PoetryByTheBay
Benicia First Tuesday Poets: 7-9 PM, meeting via zoom First Tuesdays, [open mic\read-around with occasional mystery feature] Hosted by Mary Susan Gast. For more information go to benicialibrary.org/poet/events or beniciafirsttuesdaypoets.com
For additional opportunities, join these Facebook groups:
Poetry Super Highway: www.facebook.com/groups/55010360875/
Bay Area Open Mic / Slam Update Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/19392682964/
Hear Poetry on the Radio
OZCAT radio 89.5 FM: The Art Beat Show on Thursdays at 10:30 AM. We have features on the 1st Thursday of the month. (Talk to Benicia PL Tom Stanton about that: firstname.lastname@example.org ) OZCAT re-airs Nina Serrano’s Literary Dialogues on the 2nd Thursday of the month. There is a prose show on the 3rd Thursday of the month: www.californiastorytellers.com/ We have a more open mic style show on the 4th Thursday of the month, DJ vacations and holidays excluded.
KPFA radio 94.1: Cover to Cover hosted by Jack Foley and Nina Serrano airs on the first and second Tuesdays at 2 PM.
Resources for Youth and Young Poets
Solano County has a Poetry Out Loud program where high school students can memorize a famous poem from a previously provided collection, and compete in city, county, state, and ultimately national competitions. www.poetryoutloud.org/
California Poets in the Schools offers the services of poets in the classroom: www.californiapoets.org/
If you’re thinking of entering, check each website in early spring for deadlines, as some fairs start early. Ribbons and cash premiums are available to win at each fair listed below.
The California State Fair does not currently have a poetry competition.
Solano County Fair in Vallejo accepts poetry submissions from outside of the county, multiple categories, offers complimentary fair tickets. See website for specific submission details: www.scfair.com/
Marin County Fair in San Rafael accepts poetry submissions from all over the United States, multiple categories. See website for specific submission details: www.marinfair.org/
Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton accepts poetry submissions from outside of the county, offers performance opportunity, complimentary book of all exhibited poetry, complimentary fair tickets for Poetry Day. See website for specific submission details: alamedacountyfair.com
San Mateo County Fair in San Mateo has a long running literary arts program with performance opportunities at the fair, anthology publication, website publication. Generous monetary prizes. See website for specific submission details: www.sanmateocountyfair.com/literary-arts
The Marin Poetry Center is open for membership to poets that reside outside of Marin County. When you join, a $35 annual fee, you receive your own page on their website on which you may submit one poem to be published. They also have performance, publication, and learning opportunities. www.marinpoetrycenter.org/
The Sacramento Poetry Center membership is $30. They have two publications: Tule Review and Poetry Now. www.sacramentopoetrycenter.com/publications/
The San Jose Poetry Center has a publication called Cæsura. www.pcsj.org/membership.html
Visit Vallejo Poetry Society for events in Vallejo: www.vallejopoetrysociety.org
13 Sources of Inspiration
- Music – Songs spark ideas between lyrics, respond to a song, expound on it
- Art – Write a story based on visual art
- Read – Absorb other artists. The muse will whisper.
- Black out – Write blackout poetry by blacking out lines from prose.
- Nature – Walking generates thoughts, nature sparks wonder.
- Spirituality – Powerful, positive experiences to write about
- Meditation – When you slow down enough to hear your thoughts, lines will come.
- Fun – Go out to a concert, a dance, a protest, a festival, and write about it.
- Reasonably slightly altered states of being – Joy, love, staying up late, prayer, etc.
- Daydreaming – Let yourself get really bored. Ideas will come.
- Newspapers – Respond and comment on the state of the world.
- Memories – Reminisce on your life, the good, the bad, the amazing, the painful.
- Intense emotions – Feel. Write. Edit when calm.
Everyone can write. This is how to get really good at it:
- Songs use rhyming and rhythm patterns. Study them.
- Learn the rules of grammar. Learn poetic forms. Break the rules.
- Learn new words. Make up new words. Learn multiple languages.
- Read a lot. It doesn’t have to be poetry. Read magazines, comic books, nonfiction, fiction, research history, read the news, turn on captions on films, etc.
- Find what you love to talk about and read about and then write about it. Write like you speak.
Useful writing links
- Read your work out loud. You will catch your mistakes.
- Use spell check or Grammarly.
- Have someone else read through it if you are not strong in grammar or spelling.
- Read through your book, and then go do something else for awhile. The longer you look at it, you’ll become blind to mistakes. Get back to it.
- Stylistically in poetry it is okay to break the rules.
- There are no bad writers, only inexperienced ones. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation count, but don’t let them be the bane of your existence! Poetry is more about the soulful message you intend than conforming to form. Do not let perfectionism keep you from publishing.
To go the traditional route with your unpublished poems, a lot of magazines, anthologies, and contests take submissions through submittable.com Submittable also lets you track universal submissions. There is also duotrope.com which for a $5 monthly fee lets you research and keep track of submissions.
You can also find even more listings for anthologies and journals on:
- If that isn’t enough try searching “call for submissions” “poetry” or “call for submissions” “anthology” on Google, or use Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn’s internal search engines with similar phrases like “send poems anthology.” There are several groups within these sites that list calls as well.
Try to research the publisher before submitting. Are they listed on Poets & Writers? Do they have a website? Are the editors established authors? If in doubt Winning Writers has a great list of vanity publishers to avoid as does the Library of Congress.
Not all publishers will pay you to print your work nor give you a free print or digital copy, but avoid publishers who charge exorbitant reading fees, offer a certificate of inclusion, or demand you buy copies in lieu of paying you. There are plenty of opportunities out there, so many that you should not have to pay to get published.
Read the contract and don’t completely sign away your rights. Make sure the poem copyright reverts back to you after publication, so that you can include it in your own collection later.
Do not pay money to self-publish a book. There are no up front costs to publish with KDP. They are print on demand, only take a cut of sales, and you can buy copies to sell at shows at a deep discount. If you want to self-publish a paperback book visit kdp.amazon.com In order to publish with them, you will need a minimum of 24 pages of poetry, and you are required to distribute on Amazon.com. Their default paperback size is 6”x9” inches, and you will need to adjust your document setup to reflect this size and print your pdf to this size. Be sure to include a title page, copyright page, page numbers, and table of contents in your book. KDP will assign you an ISBN. Google and YouTube are your friend in this process. Put “quotes” around your search phrase for best results. There are several great sites and videos out there that teach word processing and self-publishing.
KDP also has a rigorous help section: kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200635650
Poetry Albums & Audio Books
Ebooks are a more accessible and environmentally friendly option. These sites will distribute your book as an ebook:
If you have published a book, you may wish to check out www.blasty.co which helps authors file DMCA requests against websites that publish pirated ebooks, or use your book title to lure folks in for scams.
Buy a professional review
You can use Fiverr to promote your book. Here is a code to get credit for free services: www.fiverr.com/s2/e2e7ea5b98
If you use KDP Select and run a free promotion I recommend both bknights and greenman2015
Websites for creating your own business cards, buttons, stickers, magnets, pens, etc.:
Websites to join
Poetry Resource Websites
Images get the best engagement. Use the WordSwag app to make images for Instagram. They have a wide selection of free stock photos and pre-formatted fonts.
Use these popular hashtags to grow your following:
#poet #poetry #writer #poem #poetrycommunity #writersofinstagram #poetsofinstagram #poems #writing #quotes #words #art #writerscommunity #artist #wordporn #poets #writers #poetryisnotdead #poetsofig #author #poetryporn #writingcommunity #writersofig #poetryofinstagram #instapoetry #instapoet #books #bookstagram #book #reading #bookworm #booklover #read #bookish #bibliophile #instabook #booknerd #bookshelf #love #bookaholic #bookaddict #bookstagrammer #booksofinstagram #libri #reader #literature #booklover #libros #library #booklovers
“California’s poets laureate are vanguards of cultural change.”
–California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia
“A poet laureate is a poet officially chosen by the government. They are the voice of people in poetry and prose.” — Dr. Genea Brice, Vallejo’s 1st Poet Laureate
“A poet laureate is someone who encourages people to come together through poetry instead of resting on their laurels.” — D.L. Lang, Vallejo’s 2nd Poet Laureate
The current Vallejo Poet Laureate is Jeremy Snyder who can be reached at email@example.com
The current US Poet Laureate is Joy Harjo. Information here:
The current California Poet Laureate has yet to be named. Dana Gioia was the most recent. Information here: www.arts.ca.gov/initiatives/plabout.php
If you are a poet laureate apply for a fellowship: poets.org/academy-american-poets/prizes/academy-american-poets-laureate-fellowships