Interested in writing and publishing love poetry? In advance of Valentine’s day, this week’s AskALLi session with Orna Ross and Dalma Szentpály will discuss How to Self-Publish Love Poetry.
If you're an indie poet, or aspire to publish poetry books, this AskALLi salon is for you.
- Why love poetry is always popular and who is reading it in these digital days
- Latest trends in poetry publishing
- Genres in love poetry
- Publishing poetry tips
Also: Indie Poetry Please! in which Dalma and Orna read some poetry submissions and Orna reads her poem “Love Hurts.”
Tune in for discussions on a different theme each month with a focus on developing prosperity for poets through community building and self-publishing.
Poets, to submit to work for consideration for the Self Publishing Poetry Podcast, See the Indie Poetry Please! Submission Guidelines
Listen to the #AskALLi Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast
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Watch the #AskALLi Self-Publishing Poetry BroadcastFor #ValentinesDay, learn all the genres of love poetry with @OrnaRoss and @dalma_szentpaly in the #AskALLi poetry podcast. Click To Tweet
LGBTQIA+ Journals And Publishers That Publish Love Poems
- Qommunicate Publishing
- The Gay & Lesbian Review
- Screen Door Review
- Headmistress Press
- Gertrude Press
- Lambda Awards – if you already have a published volume of poetry you can submit it here Tips on Writing Love Poetry
Other Good Outlets for Love Poetry
- Ecotone magazine
- 2 Elizabeths
- Gulf Coast
- Humber Literary Review
- Zone 3
- Jabberwock Review
- 32 poems
Find more author advice, tips and tools at our Self-publishing Author Advice Center: https://selfpublishingadvice.org, with a huge archive of nearly 2,000 blog posts, and a handy search box to find key info on the topic you need.
And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.
About the Hosts
Orna’s work for ALLi has seen her repeatedly named one of The Bookseller’s “Top 100 people in publishing.” She launched at the 2012 London Book Fair, after taking her rights back from Penguin in 2011 and republishing her books herself, with the titles and treatment she’d originally wanted. Orna writes award-winning poetry and fiction, runs a Patreon page for poets and poetry lovers as well as an active author website. She is on a mission to help eradicate creative poverty through digital publishing and enterprise. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram: @ornaross.
Dalma Szentpály co-hosts the Self-Publishing Poetry salon. She works at PublishDrive as a self-publishing professional and has been a lifelong lover of poetry. A native Hungarian, she started learning about lyricism from poetry giants like Attila József and János Pilinszky but also recited brooding lines of verse from international poets like Pablo Neruda or Anna Ahmatova. In university, she fell in love with W.B. Yeats and Emily Dickinson and wrote her thesis about the “villanelle” form in Sylvia Plath’s poetry. As a university lecturer and an event manager at an independent bookstore in Budapest Dalma encouraged readers to re-engage with poetry. Check out her blog post about contemporary poetry trends here: Find Dalma on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Read the Transcript
Orna Ross: Hello, everybody, and here we are again and welcome to our Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast. This week with Dalma. Hi, Dalma.
Dalma Szentpaly: Hi Orna and hi, everyone.
Orna Ross: It's great to be here back for the Alliance of Independent Authors and Self Publishing Podcast and once a month we focus on elf publishing poetry and there is a little
well known festival coming up called Valentine's Day and probably more poetry exchange, read, written and thought about than any other and so we decided that we would focus our show today on the challenges and the delights of self publishing love poetry in particular. So yeah, Dalma you're a fan of love poetry?
Dalma Szentpaly: Sure. I mean, I think everyone who gets into poetry probably does when they are a teenager. And when you're a teenager, your hormones come in, I think and that love and yeah, basically, that's when I got into poetry. So, I'm definitely a fan. And how are your thoughts about that? So, what.
Orna Ross: I'm fascinated by, I mean, absolutely, I started writing poetry as so many of us did and exactly that, you know, mooning over some long forgotten boy, who I thought was the absolute center of the universe at the time. He didn't agree with, you know, he didn't think I was the center of his universe. So, or poetry or anything that could help me to cope with this terrible trauma. And, but it does fascinate me even now. Kind of many, many moons later how love poetry is so popular always. It never goes out of fashion. It's something that people always are interested in. It's the form of poetry that is by far the most popular today on social media. You know, back in the sort of court, court of King Henry the Eighth, back in the medieval and back in the bardic times, a lot of what has survived to now is political poetry, both also incredibly useful love poetry. So, and yeah, the first thing I'd like to say if you're looking for really good poems to read, and there's a great link to some really beautiful some stunningly beautiful love poems on bookriot, which is a great curation site for all kinds of books. And so, you get that at bookriot.com/2018 or 119/love-poems don't worry about it the link ,it will be in the show notes. You can see it later because you're not going to remember all that, are you? But yeah, it's a great place to start if you haven't and you know, if you're not kind of familiar with the pleasure of poetry or a great place to perhaps read some old favorite ones, and discover new ones. Exactly right.
Dalma Szentpaly: So, do you have a favorite one, though, I just wanted to ask. Do you have some that you always come back to, to revisit?
Orna Ross: You mean love poetry generally, or on this link? Yeah, I have. For me, it's the it's the great, great love affair, the great love poet. And he of course, was struck by this huge passion for and his news mod gang at the age of 23. And that was a love affair that took him through his entire life. And he wrote about it. He was still writing letters in his 50s and 60s and the different ways in which the law had changed and he captured love so beautifully and in beautiful nature and images. Still today, I've read them 100,000 million times. They are as fresh for me today as they were the first time I read them back when I was a moody teenager trying to write my own and in no way writing proper poetry, you know, lashing out words and different to crafting poems that was we're going to talk about a little in a few moments. But yeah, we've been looking at the trends in love poetry at the moment. And, you know, I know you're really keen on examining trends and you're very you very much have your finger on the pulse of the poetry trends. So, specifically when it comes to love poetry, what and what's going on, but to people who might be interested in self publishing poetry books, need to know what's popular among readers at the moment?
Dalma Szentpaly: I think generally you would say about self publishing poetry that empowerment and inspiration are generally in the heart of it. And this translates to love poems as well. So, empowerment in a sense that, you know, traditionally, romantic poems are about female and male love and traditional gender roles in a sense that the woman is an attainable object of affection. And generally male poets are talking about how a woman is perceived. And, of course, it changed during the 20th century, but now it's much more about how, how supportive can be a relationship and from both ends. So, um, female poets are talking about how they want to be desired so and about female desires. So, definitely, it's a confessional poetry, nowadays. So, especially I think I talked about Ruby Core before, she was one of the big influencers who started the self publishing trends on Instagram. And she was the first one to talk about how she had traumatic relationships, but how she arrived after a while — to through self love and through accepting who she is to a supportive relationship and talks about how healing relationship can be loving and generally about this, um, otherwise. What's also interesting is, while nature poetry is definitely still there as in almost all love poems, but everyday object and everyday situations, you know, washing the dishes together can be just as poetic as strolling in nature. So yeah, that's definitely there. Otherwise, one of them that I particularly like and one of my personal favorites is retelling great love stories. So, you know, fairy tales Cinderella or Little Mermaid or, or classic myths. And a lot of female poets do this nowadays. I'm very encouraged a lot of people to check out Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself in this one. That's one of the] books or volumes that are a must. I think to Figure out where poetry is right now. And the other is Nikita Jill's Great Goddesses. And one of my favorite ones there is Persephone’s confession about how she's the queen of the underworld and how she feels about Hades. And it's a very different take on the classical myths. So, yeah, I think that this is generally how to, how it shifted. And this goes for male poets as well. So, there's one part of poem that I wrote for this particularly.
Orna Ross: Yes because we want to include in this particular podcast because poetry is so short and we can, we want to include in this particular podcast because poetry is so short and we can we want to include your poetry and poetry as possible so that we're not talking about how to publish poems but we're also giving some examples of people who are doing it really well. So yeah, you're gonna you're going to read a short poem for us, I think?
Dalma Szentpaly: Very, very short. So, it's basically just a part of a poem, but it definitely illustrates what I was talking about, about shifting how to perceive women or perceive love. So, this is from analog De Leon, who is actually Chris Purefoy.
“She will go to bed at night certain of her beauty, she will wake up in the morning convinced her off her value.” So, you know, basically, just empowering women through love. So, this this is very different take on what it was before.
Orna Ross: Yeah, it's fantastic. And what we're seeing here I think, as a large and overall trend and one that Indies can fit right into and are helping to further and you know, take out there is new voices. And new Voices doesn't just mean that somebody else gets to speak. But when the new voices are a whole category of people like “the women” who were always the muse, who are now becoming much more active, I mean, women always wrote poetry and they always wrote poetry in which they rejected being constantly passive sort of object of the male affections. And you know, right, we've got right back to Sappho. To know that that is true, but so little of it survived and got taken into the cannon. When I was growing up, poets were male, it was outlandish and it wasn't until I read Virginia Woolf and her idea that anonymous was a woman that I realized how much you know women have been written out and I think what we're seeing very vividly today is the change in that. Now women are and because publication is now so widespread and because women can read women in a completely different way without a mediating kind of publisher in between. It's really opening the scene up for new voices to be saying new things and I think the what you just read there is a splendid sort of example of that. And expanding out from that we've got this really vibrant and we could pick lots of different areas where we would see the same thing happening with women happening with other groups and other minorities and other people who have traditionally been marginalized, of course, when it comes to love, and it's the LGBTQAI Plus group is an incredibly active in this arena of writing about poetry and sexuality. You know, producing amazing or erotic poems. We're getting to hear about ways of thinking about love that we didn't before I really would, you know, recommend people to think about reading outside your normal kind of comfort zone. So often I think the reason that people are put off poetry is they only know old poets who seem to be writing about stuff that seem to have no kind of relevance to them. One of the great ways is to step outside yourself and to look at different things. So, drag poetica is, you know, drag poetry is remaking and all our ideas about otherness and artifice and contradictions that are inherent in what it is to love somebody what it is to love ourselves. One of my favorite poems on the scene there and I could have picked 100 but I was only able to pick this one and again keeping it very short Whoa Chan a fantastic fashion person, drag artist, and brilliant poet. And so, and the poem goes like this:
“I was the smell of ripe lemons in his ox bone nation. I was never brave. But he left the eat butter held me like an egg.”
And these short sort of snippets of that — for me that contains so much and tells you so much about relationship, the tenderness at the heart of that relationship. And these short pieces that are kind of turning up on Instagram all over the place can seem very simple. But they can be deeply profound and sometimes the simplicity is on the surface and after a reading or two, it kind of sinks in just how much is being said. So in the show notes for the show, we have sort of lots of journals on publishers that are publishing love poetry, and it's one of the few areas in poetry where you can actually get paid and when you submit to journals and some magazines and stuff. So and we, you know, normally with this show is all about self publishing books and kind of choosing yourself and putting your own stuff out there and doing that on social media, and all of that, but it is also useful and we will look in a later show about how to use publication in literary journals to build your reputation and discoverability of your books, and so on, and it's certainly more worthwhile doing that in love poetry than in any other genre. So, if you're interested in doing that, and there are lots of journals and cute, Quomunicate, The Gay Lesbian Review, Screen Door Review, Headmistress Press, Gertrud Press and are all fabulous journals in this area and there are some very good awards to and again, we'll do a show specifically on awards and apply All Basche at the Lombard awards. Sorry lambda awards are really worth checking out as well. So, as I said, you don't need to scribble all these down we’ll have them in the show notes and in the, with the transcript. But yeah, so should we talk about the different types of poetry and what happens in those different kinds of poems and you mentioned confessional just to give people maybe an idea of what that means.
Dalma Szentpaly: Confessional originally, it started in the 60s with probably you know, Sylvia Plath. And it's, it's probably most of the time told from first personal view. And it's very deep, it's very psychological. It evokes images that are very emotional. Not necessarily nature not necessarily obscured ones, but mostly about feelings. And this is what I would say and most of the time right now, nowadays on Instagram, that's, that's something that you would definitely come in contact with. When you look at it. Yeah. In the short to do have anything to add to this?
Orna Ross: Yeah, I think the thing about confessional is it's very hard. It's hard to do well. So, we see a lot of us could be pros you know it’s not and the best of it is absolutely brilliant. Because you're writing from the heart and very often, I mean confessional, you can assume it's the poet's and feelings that are being discovered that there not writing through another voice, which other types of poetry, I think you can't assume but here you can. And the thing about it is, is and you need to have strong and vivid imagery, it's very easy for the poetry to be a little kind of sound come off as kind of just winging, moaning, feeling sorry for yourself. You need something in —
Dalma Szentpaly: That’s very true.
Orna Ross: Makes it fresh. So, it's deeply intimate. I think if it isn't, if it isn't kind of scary if you're not really moving and opening up something that's kind of typically kept private, in normal, whatever that is, life, and then it's not really confessional. And I think readers really want this stuff, you know, they want their readers and editors to are very interested in, in very intimate explorations of your most private thoughts and your most emotional thoughts and, of course, that brings us to erotica which is also blooming and I think, you know, there's always this fine line with love poetry. If you're describing passion, physical passion, at what point is it love poetry, and at what point does it kind of tip into erotica and yeah I think the definition is that erotica is actually trying to stir a sexual response full on sexual gratification in the reader. So, it's not just describing something that happened and you know, bringing in bodily imagery, but it's going it's going bit further than that.
Dalma Szentpaly: Yeah.
Orna Ross: So, some tips on writing love poetry, I think is to avoid the sentimental. So clichés and analogies, you know, over time, something that was really a lot of pop are clichés now we're beautifully fresh images when they were first written and they were so true but they got passed on but now they're stale and so if you're using them, your and you know you're not actually doing your subject any favors, your not going to get that spark of recognition in the reader.
Dalma Szentpaly: Definitely, definitely but it's very hard I think to, you can maybe reverse expectations. So that's one of the things that you can do with sentimental images that, can, you can kind of use them ironically but it's incredibly hard. So, altogether just you can find something new or discover something new way to express some feelings or emotions.
Orna Ross: Yes, I think it is definitely about newness and I think the way into that is to be completely unique and individual. So to go very deeply into your own personal experience using the lens of the five senses. So being you know, rooting it in concrete truth, your own truth, through imagery, of sounds and smells and tastes and as well as sites and, you know, we very often jump to the visual-age, but in love poetry in particular because we're looking for that sensuality. Bringing in the other senses is very often the way in and to remember that cliché is not just cliched phrases or words. It's also cliched images, things that were just, you know, I love is like a red, red rose, no don't, um not unless you really want to kind of hit it over the head, you know, don't use up red rose now, the red rose has been used again when it was first written that poem is still a favorite poem among many people was hugely fresh and the dialectic was written and everything else at the time. And the rose as an image of love has been used across the centuries in you know, lots of fresh and different ways. So, if you are going to write about that red rose, then know what you're doing, and know what’s the vision.
Dalma Szentpaly: And know what your invoking there yeah, sure.
Orna Ross: And what your invoking and I think this comes back to reading. I think there are too many, too many poets writing who don't read and who don't know the tradition. They don't know where they sit. They don't know what’s done before. And I've had poets say to me, I don't want to ruin my, you know, my own kind of feeling and emotion.
Dalma Szentpaly: Yeah, you're definitely not going to, I think, if anything that's going to inspire you, in what those kind of poems and words and, verses or rhythms invoke in you that's going to inspire you as a poet most probably.
Orna Ross: Absolutely. And learning from technique, the only way you can kind of know how work because the other thing that makes the poem good is word skill. You know, being skilled with words understanding the different nuances of rhythms and rhyme and how it works and how it doesn't work and, all of that, and you absorb a lot of that subconsciously just by doing a lot of reading. So do read a lot in the genre in which you like to rise and enough and not just on Insta, you know, get it out there and find, you know, there are great poets who aren't on social media, but also that whole idea of a tradition because every single type of poem that is being written now has been written before and love is the perennial emotion that doesn't change and in some ways, it just gets new expressions. So and in terms of, of kind of understanding what's gone before it's really important to know where you fit in what kind of poet you are, are you remaking things are you rewriting from the new vision. Are you know, who has said what before? And how have they said it. Yeah, and I did mention rhyme there in passing. Rhyme is very out of fashion. I think it will be fair to say at the moment, and I know you have some thoughts, and are you a fan of rhyming poetry or you just prefer if it doesn’t rhyme?
Dalma Szentpaly: I'm a fan of rhyming poetry when it was done well, a couple of hundred years ago. But I think it had its moment. And now it's incredibly hard. As you said before, rhymes are not I would say infinite. So, there are rhyming clichés as well. So, it's not in fashion at the moment and you can do slant rhyme. But you know, it's now, nowadays I would say prose or free form, free writing, rhythm is definitely something that you have to have but it can be *inaudible* rhythm, it can be, it can be completely different. You do not need to fall back on rhyme it can be forced, it can be very obvious and nowadays, there are different type of expressions that you can use to, to illustrate emotion or keep rhythm.
Orna Ross: Yeah, rhythm of course, as rhyme has gone down in fashion rhythm has come up and we've got all the particularly the rap artists and a lot of the performing artists who also take in love. It's not just anger and politics in that scene and there's some amazing poetry you know, which rhythm, obviously, love unsex are rhythmical acts really interestingly in poetry and I've heard some people doing that in a really sort of interesting way. I have to confess, to have just gotten it. I do write some rhyming poetry. I've written rhyme before and I wrote my first song This last month, which of course demands, demands, rhyme but not only rhyme in A, B, C, D, E, F you know a really strict kind of layout on form. I can’t these poems because there's still private to my patrons at my poetry exclusively for the first three months so they won't be released more broadly until then. I will say that I'm only getting into writing now after nearly 20 years of writing poems. So, and for me at the moment, it's, a it's a challenge to see can I you know?
Dalma Szentpaly: Yeah, do it well.
Orna Ross: Yeah, do it well get beyond the cliché you know and do something. Yeah, a little bit different with the sonnet, which is a very old and kind of ancient form.
Dalma Szentpaly: Absolutely.
Orna Ross: Yeah.
Dalma Szentpaly: Yeah, just want one thing to add here. I did my thesis in in form of poetry called villanelle, which is very strict about rhyme and rhythm.
Orna Ross: It’s even more.
Dalma Szentpaly: Yeah, exactly. It is it's very playful, but it's incredibly hard to do it well, and I did it in the poetry of Sylvia Plath and how it became kind of defining for her after a while as well and ever since. I encountered some, some people who tried to do it well. And sometimes it's brilliant. If you find it, what the rhythm and what the whole form is about. It can be incredibly brilliant. So, I think I encourage people to challenge themselves to do that. But yeah, it's hard. It's difficult for sure. Yeah.
Orna Ross: It is. It is more challenging. And again, it's something if you haven't read a lot of them, don't, don't try and write one or two, it's that simple. Yeah, so just a few kind of final tips on the whole and poetry book publication. And, as poetry is one of the few areas as love poetry is one of the few areas where you can actually get paid. Don't put your poems out on social media, the internet if you are then going to submit them to literary journal because a lot of the journals and magazines will have a kind of a rule against that. So, you will be ruling out the poem. So just kind of keep that in mind if it's something you want to do. In terms of publishing poetry as well of poetry in particular, get outside the book’s world. love poems are beautiful gifts and you know, around Valentine's Day especially, you know, people are looking for gifts to give their loved one. You could maybe work with an artist work with a musician to create something lovely, but think also about gift shops, card shops, you know, that kind of thing. These could be good outlets for your love poetry over and beyond the kind of the straight publishing to Amazon and the other retail stores, and publishing on your own website. Women's glossy magazines have money, they have lots of, you know from perfume and beauty products and they have money and they pay for poetry. So, and you can actually, some take them some don't and you need to, you need to know that they do. So, it's definitely worth checking out it was because you’ll get paid a lot more by a glossy magazine and you'll ever be paid by a literary journal. And then, you know, there are people who are compiling who specifically are looking for good little poetry to put into anthologies, and lots and opportunity and like contests on anthologies, and poetry contests are both opportunities to kind of take, take your poems out there and build up a following. And as I said, we'll be talking about ways of doing that and not just in relation to low poetry but in relation to all kinds of poetry on another show. So, I think that is it for today unless you had anything you wanted to add to our love poetry publishing.
Dalma Szentpaly: Nope.
Orna Ross: Okay, I have a poem, I'm going to read and finish if off. This is about love of course. This is from and one of my chapbook series, which I encourage you all to do, when I, what I do with my poems. And this is a really good way again of kind of getting your work out there without producing a big book. And I did this at the very beginning of my self publishing career. First book I published it was in this series, it was just this size, it's just 10 poems. So, when I, when they're publishable, I kind of store them and when I have 10 of them, I turned them into a chapbook like this. And yeah, so this is a poem called Love Hurts No Way.
“Love hurts. They say. I say no way.” There's a rhyme Dalma.
“Love hurts. They say. I say no way. The only thing that never hurts is love. Lost festers envy lights, loss, skewers, rejection spikes, passion burns, craving sees, romance dazzles, lonesome bleeds. Well, yes, indeed. But none of the above is love. Love helps. Love lights. Love warms. Love writes. Love soothes. Love feeds. Love calms. Love heals. Yes. What will heal the sting of pain and make your life feel good again? Again, again, and yet again. Is love. Love hurts. They say. I say no way. The only thing that's never hurts is love.”
So that is it on love poetry, I think for this time, we would love to have your submissions for poems next time and how to do that is ornaross.com/indie-poetry again, it will be in the show notes. And we want to include more poetry in this session. So please do send us in your poems, we were really keen to hear them and to read them. So, anything to finish?
Dalma Szentpaly: I just wanted to say that as you as you said before, your poem is very much the next expression of you know, supporting love. So not necessarily, not love hurts, as you said that love heals and love warms. So yeah, it's a lovely thing to think about for Valentine's Day, I think.
Orna Ross: Oh, thank you and right on trend. Okay, so thank you everybody for joining us. We look forward to receiving your poetry and we'll be here next month. And next month we're going to be talking about the very thorny subject of poetry editing, finding an editor, working with an editor, when to bring an editor in, when not, poetry is one of the very few areas where sometimes and the poems are not actually edited by anybody else. So, we'll be talking about what we think about us and inviting your experiences, what you think about that, and hopefully reading you some more great poetry. So, thanks for being with us tonight.
Dalma Szentpaly: Thank you.