In these blogs focussing on sonnets, I have been encouraging you to try writing one for yourself. If you’ve already done that, what’s next? Just how good is that sonnet you’ve laboured over? Do not leave it unseen in a pile of papers or unread on your smartphone. Release it into the wild wide world either to a roar or whimper.
This is what I did with my new poem The Promise of Magic.
In a previous blog, I have emphasised the need to bring poems into being through public readings and described open-mic evenings. But there are other testing grounds too, such as entering competitions or submitting to magazines. Some will yield applause. Some even will give you honest feedback in the way that open-mic sessions or readings in front of your family may not.
Competitions can be a bit of lottery and depend heavily on the judge’s taste. With adjudicators often changing each year, it’s difficult to anticipate what style of work will resonate most with a judge. Sometimes, if there are multiple judges on a panel, the dynamic between them also plays a role. That is only natural. Sometimes the amount of prize money on offer is the best guide for your chances, generally the higher this is, the tougher it will be and the more entrants you’ll be competing against.
Getting published in a poetry magazine or a literary journal is also a sign that your poem has merit. Support the publication by buying some issues. Read the contents to understand what style and level of poetry is welcomed. Carefully follow the submission guidelines of each journal.
Some literary journals go further and provide a testing ground in the form a feedback loop. After each issue they ask readers to vote for their favourite poems in that edition. Then, in the next issue they publish the consolidated rankings and may offer a cash prize to the poem with the most votes. Most valuable to you are the comments of other readers, who most likely will be fellow poets.
If you also read and review their poems it has the side effect of encouraging you to look very closely at them by acting as if you were a judge. This is a useful exercise in criticism that can inform one’s own writing. Both Reach Poetry and Orbis have these forums available.
Just recently, I was pleased to have three allegorical poems of mine published, The Promise of Magic and At the Tumbleweed Diner in Orbis Quarterly International Literary Journal  and The Old Bookshop in Reach Poetry . Both publications have just such a feedback loop as I described above. I’ve now picked my top three or four poems (excluding mine of course), e-mailed my comments to the editors and now I’m curious to see whether anyone remarks on my works in the subsequent editions.
I wrote my first eco-sonnet On the mountains, the last snow falls in 2006, since then we have not made much progress; so The Promise of Magic is yet another opportunity for reflection. I hope it provokes a response.
Anyway, I will keep you informed of any feedback I get in my next blog.
 Orbis Quarterly International Literary Journal (ISSN 0300-4425), Issue 192, Summer 2020, http://www.orbisjournal.com/
 Reach Poetry magazine, Issue 262, July 2020, (ISSN 1461-1112), http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/reach-poetry