Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Poetry Survey Reveals the Future of Poetry

Ever wonder what other people are thinking about poetry.

The Canadian Federation of Poets conducted a survey, and here are the results.

This could help you with planning your next book launch, plan how you approach others with your poetry, and highlights how the Federation of Poets is doing with these issues.

Here are the complete results.
• Q1 - What do you think people like most about poetry?
85% - emotional, inspirational, creative expression of ideas
12.5% - rhymes and rhythm
2.5% - too technical

Once you identify what people like most about something, that is what you can give them. People like to feel something when they read a poem, be inspired, and share ideas, so if we want to get a wider audience, this is a good place to start.

• Q2 - What could a national organization do that would be most useful to a poet?
43% - Career help and guidance
18% - Publish poets
13% - Increase Perception
11% - News/Events
10% - Unite poets/sense of community
5% - Train poets

For the Canadian Federation of Poets, this was the most important question, and the results were surprising. So we will spend the next year coming up with innovative ideas and solutions, and opportunities to help you establish your career as a poet, and provide guidance and suggestions where applicable.
How is the CFP doing so far?

• Career help and guidance With over 50 events, and 15 appearances of CFP members in the news, this is the first step to establishing your career - and that is exposure. Plus we provide advise about free contests, we promote members in Poetry Canada magazine, we select and promote a Feature Poet every month on-line, we provide a free on-line community for anyone, forum and chat area so poets can help poets, and share ideas, our website has over 27,000 hits a month, plus we have interviewed some of the newest up and coming poets of 2004 to let you know how they did it! Poetry Canada magazine will make sure it has content to satisfy this need in every edition.

• Publish poets: We put out a call in 2004 for the First CFP members anthology, which will help you gain experience in the publishing and editing process, and provide a method to get you published so you can announce to the world that you have been selected for inclusion, and published in a high quality, perfect bound book of the finest poems from CFP members.

• Increase Perception: We have poets on tour with Chapters/Indigo, and at every opportunity the CFP gets out there and promotes poetry. Events, newsletters, ezines, contests, on-line bookstore, pay per click keywords, an anthology, all of these are a great start to increasing the perception of a poet and their unique purpose in the society. By continuing to appear in front of anyone who will listen, and by starting off the year appearing at the Mayor's Levee in the city of Milton, we are expanding the audience type. In addition the combined events with the Burlington Art Centre that have our poets create in conjunction with current main gallery exhibits, all of this will continue to increase our awareness. If we all continue to 'speak up', we'll all eventually be heard.

• News/Events: This past year on average the CFP and its members held over 50 events that you could participate in, gain valuable speaking experience from and increase your own exposure. We will be adding even more this year, so be sure to take advantage of this! Plus we had over 15 appearances of CFP members, and 34 event accouncements in community newspapers. CFP will help promote you!

• Unite poets/sense of community We had 50 get togethers last year, we have 5 on-line forums for all different kinds of poetry topics, an on-line calendar where members and organizations can post their events, a monthly ezine that keeps you informed, announcement of events in Poetry Canada magazine, a free subscription to Poetry Canada magazine, on-line biographies and links of members so you can really get to know them, and a place where youth under the age of 16 can join for free, and participate on every level of full membership!

• Training - did you know the CFP has a complete 52 week education program where you can learn tons of different styles of poetry, and participate in drills and exercises to increase your own knowledge and experiences. At the end CFP members will get a Poets Certificate, which will be a well earned certificate, qualifying you to create in any of the methods from the program. Experienced teachers and editors will be there to mark your work, provide advise, guidance, and make sure you get the most knowledge you can from the CFP.
Are you a CFP member? What are you waiting for! Find out ALL the benefits of joining the CFP!

• Q3 - What would you like to get from the world of poetry?
48%- Recognition/Appreciation
26%- A career as a poet
19%- Knowledge
7%- Friends and community

How is the CFP doing so far?
• Recognition and appreciation Poets want to be appreciated and acknowledged. Simple things such as the CFP answers every email, responds to your inquiries, and helps members get the information you are looking for. You want recognition, so each month we feature a member on the website, we feature a member in Poetry Canada magazine, and we hold many events which we feature attending poets. In addition, we provide member on-line bios, and website links, so you can send out the message you want to every visitor. As for next year, we are going to add some member awards for outstanding poetry, volunteer work, and various other poetry expanding activities. Look for these!

• A career as a poet At the CFP, we know many of you would like to be earning enough money to have poetry be a full-time income endeavour, or if it is is a secondary passion, to have it compensate enough for your time. After all, you are a writer, and writers get paid. This is why we create events, contests, and opportunities in which you can sell your books, CDs and from Poetry Canada, we even pay our poets for their work. Not only does this result in the magazine being extremely selective, it means that the selected poets are launched in a very nice way. In addition, we don't look at the names of submitters, which means first time poets get the same consideration as published. Here you are on a level playing field, where talent wins, not who you know.

• Knowledge We created the unique 52 week Poetry Certification program to provide you with knowledge about different types of poetry, plus we provide information on the website, in the ezine, on the forums, in the calendar, newsletters and in Poetry Canada magazine. We work to keep you well informed.

• Friends and community Although this ranked low, we feel it is an important part and feature of the Canadian Federation of Poets. Poetry can be a tough nut to crack, and with the help of friends trying to do the same thing, and a community that will help encourage and provide advise to each other, we can all get further ahead, and when we walk together, the journey will be a beautiful one.

• Q4 - Should the name be Canadian Federation of just Federation of Poets?
71% - Canadian Federation of Poets
29% - Federation of Poets

CFP Response: Because the CFP is a world-wide organization, we decided to take a poll on whether we should make the name more generic. It was a landslide win in favour of keeping the Canadian heritage and origins. Be proud of where it started you said, and that is very good advise for all of us! Be proud. So the name is officially and will be registered as The Canadian Federation of Poets, even though it is for everyone, it started in Canada!

• Q5 - What would a poet like to see in or from a poetry magazine?
39% - Tips and articles to help with career
32% - Good poetry
16% - Their own work, chance for first timers
9% - Aesthetics and promote multiculturalism
4% - Get paid
2% - More rhyming poetry
2% - Volunteer opportunities for job experience

How is Poetry Canada doing so far?

• Tips and articles to help with career Every edition will have information to help you get published, find publishers, and tips and articles on how to help you with your career.

• Good poetry - We select a maximum of 10 out of about 300 submissions. We appreciate everyone that sends us their work, encourage you to continue, and as the magazine grows, are certain so will submissions, always resulting in the best work being selected. With a high number of submissions we can't select everyone if we want to continue the high standards, however, sometimes we simply run out of room - so we keep the runner ups on file and include them for consideration next time also. When you have to shell out money like Poetry Canada does to each poet, we make sure our money is well spent.

• Their own work, chance for first timers Over 50% of the poets that have appeared in Poetry Canada magazine, tell us it was their first time. They were so excited, and we were glad to be a part of their break into the industry. When we consider the work, we don't look at the name, city, province, state or country. The best are selected from anywhere in the world.

• Aesthetics and promote multiculturalism - Part of the core mission of the magazine is to promote culture and diversity through art, photography, and poetry. This mission will ensure we get you a beautifully created magazine, that promotes poetry, art and photography from around the world. In addition, we have an exclusive section for poetry presented in multiple languages called "Small Planet". The more we realize we are all here for the same reason, regardless of race, religion, culture, creed or any other 'physical world differentiator', the more we will all see each other as the same.

• Get paid Despite the fact this is the first year, and the magazine is running at a complete loss, we made it clear that we would pay our poets, however nominal, out of principal alone. We are writers, and deserve to be paid. Just because we love to do it, that is the point. We should all be able to earn a living by doing what we love. So however small a role Poetry Canada magazine will play, we want to make sure we set a precedent that hopefully other magazines will follow.

• More rhyming poetry To ensure that a rhyming poem appeared in every issue, we reserved a 'contest' spot for this type of poetry. It's popularity, flow, and rhymic passages are wonderful to listen to, often underrated, and deserves to be a prominent form of poetry for any age.

• Volunteer opportunities for job experience We allow volunteers to participate at most levels of production, and many have offered your services, to which will be taking you up on when the need presents itself. We will be glad to provide an environment where you can gain experience, and provide formal references for your future endeavours in the world of writing, editing and publishing.

• Q6 - If you could change one thing about poetry, what would it be?
28.5% - Quality improvement
22.8% - Content/subject matter
14.2% - viable career option
11.5% - have it be a more popular medium
11.5% - People's perception of it
11.5% - disrespectful way poets are treated

How is the CFP doing so far?
• All of the above are difficult to measure, but we do know we are making a difference in the industry because we are getting very positive feedback from our poets, from Poetry Canada magazine subscribers and readers, and from the attendees at events. Next year we will post some of the feedback. For content and quality, we believe Poetry Canada is selecting top quality work, and as far as content is related, there many places and sites specific to content many of us are not interested in. At Poetry Canada and the CFP, we believe a positive message, improvement, quality of life and aestethic contribution are important qualities we wish to promote and publish. This does not exclude science fiction, short stories, or human drama. Content and quality are very subjective, so we will let our readers and poets decide on what they like, based on feedback and survey results.

• Q7 - How do you feel poetry is perceived by the general public?
38.8% - Boring waste of time
25% - Difficult to read, understand and do
19.5% - They like it
16.7% - For stuffed shirts and intellectuals

How is the CFP doing so far?
If someone doesn't understand something, that means as a poet, we have not communicated that very well. We have not connected with affinity, or got them interested enough in what poetry can do for them. So the responses to this question are up to all of us to correct. If you think of a person as a mirror, they should feel the way you do when you have successfully expressed your message. If they don't, take a good look at how you feel about poetry first.
The CFP will be putting great effort into this. Last year we had 5 visits to local schools to make sure that children and youth did not abandon poetry, and that they understood that music is a form of poetry, and when they are having problems it is a great way to express themselves, and much more.
So what can each of us do as individuals to make sure that the number one answer soon is - They like it?

1. If you work in an office, post on the memo board an amusing poetry about the office or a situation you were just in. Use it to improve the environment. Be proud of your work.

2. If you work at a Doctors office or place where there is a reception - put out your chapbooks or books for people to glance through (of course check this with your employer - but I bet they would love it).

3. Teach a friend how to write a Haiku - make them feel like a poet. Don't know how to do that yourself, check out our on-line lessons.

4. Tailor your readings to your audience. If you are presenting to a general audience, pick some of your lighter poetry. Not to insinuate they are not intellectually capable of understanding your heavier work, but to appeal to the broadest base of the audience.

5. Find out why someone thinks poetry is boring. Confront them. You can tell these people when their eyes roll back as you tell them what you do (and please tell them what you do!!). Correct their impression, or help them overcome any barriers they have erected. For every individual we each strip of false data or bad experiences they have had, that is one more audience member for all of us!

6. Think of any way you can to help improve the entry and understanding of poets and poetry

7. If you have an idea, send it to us!
We will be conducting surveys often to help us monitor and continue to successfully help increase our value as an Organization, and as a concerned society for the preservation and promotion of poetry and the arts. Please be sure to take part in these when they come up. A little opinion can go a long way when you know it is being heard. And at the CFP - we hear you!

Hope these results help.

Tracy Repchuk
President and Founder of the Canadian Federation of Poets

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