How do I Become a Poet?

Sheri Cyprus

If you want to become a poet, the best thing to do is immerse yourself in the world of poetry. You should read the works of famous poets as well as begin writing your own poetry daily. Completing college poetry courses isn't mandatory, but it can be a good way to learn the mechanics, such as verse types and timing meters or rhythms. Understanding who the audience is for your style of poems is essential if you want to become a poet.

Reading the works of other poets will help an aspiring poet learn the craft.
Reading the works of other poets will help an aspiring poet learn the craft.

Look for coffee shops or other venues in your area that feature poetry readings. You can always listen to other poets read their poems before you decide to do the same. Connecting with other people with the same interests may help inspire you to follow your dream to become a poet. A local bookstore may have a poetry club or allow you to start one. Reading, writing, and listening to poetry every chance you get should be your goal as you strive to become a poet with true passion for your craft.

Many bookstores have a section specifically for writers, with books about the writing process, publishing and promotion.
Many bookstores have a section specifically for writers, with books about the writing process, publishing and promotion.

Poetry is a form of writing in which there are no jobs posted in newspapers or other employment listings. You'll have to get your name and work out there if you want to become a poet who is well known. There are poetry magazines and books available in bookstores about how to sell your poems. Compiling a list of publishers who may be interested in publishing your work is a good idea. These markets are very limited and many scams exist, so make sure you locate the information from reliable publishers.

You'll have to be extremely careful to avoid scams such as fake poetry contests or publishers who turn out to be companies that want to charge you a lot of money to self-publish your work. Getting advice from experienced poets you can network with may help you more easily avoid scams. Checking with trusted scam prevention agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), before considering any offer from a poetry company is recommended.

Legitimate greeting card companies may be a possible market for your work. You can begin getting experience by choosing blank greeting cards for your friends and family members; write your own poetry inside the card. If you want to become a poet, it means writing poetry constantly. If you aren't passionate enough about poems to write and study them almost daily, then it's probably best not to become a poet.

Entering government- or school-sponsored poetry contests can provide you with a good opportunity to become noticed in your community. Even if you don't win, you will have gained experience in writing poetry for a certain event or on a specific theme. While it may be a long time before you can expect to earn any type of living from your poetry, if you truly want to become a poet, you can do it by starting your goal with any spare time you have.

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Discussion Comments


I don't consider myself a "serious" poet, but I have read my work publicly a few times. And let me say, it is nerve-racking those first couple of times. The first time I did it I was shaking a little bit. But I've found it helps to tell a joke or make a goofy self-deprecating comment before you start, if only to make yourself chuckle a little bit. When it's over though, it is quite satisfying.


I was an English major in college, so I was around a lot of poets. Having experienced this scene fairly extensively, I can say that the best way to become known in the community is to perform at every single reading you possibly can. Let's be honest. Very few people read poetry these days. Even fewer people pay attention to modern poets. Most people that read poetry read the classics of British and American literature, and do so because they have to for classes. So, as a modern poet, you have to take your work to a performance setting to be taken seriously. The best poets I know are those that not only write interesting and/or thought-provoking poems, but those who perform them well. Confidence and a clear speaking voice are things to work on, and obviously require practice. But I can say with confidence that if you want people to pay attention to your work, a good performance style is essential.

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