I am a member of the United States Armed Forces and one of my closest friends made a remark a few years ago that stuck with me. “Bryan,” he said, “Professionals join professional organizations.” He was talking about entirely different organizations, but what does that mean? Well, it might mean different things to different people and several things to several people. If you are not out there actively championing your cause, who is? As a poet or even as a person with an appreciation of poetry, there are several organizations who fight for the validity and relevancy of traditional and contemporary poetry. When you join these organizations, your membership pays for them to lobby and forward the poetic agenda. That came out sounding a little too political and I do not want to discourage you from considering membership in any of them.
I am no expert at this, so in my humble opinion, the best place to start is the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (homepage linked). Their website can point you in the direction of your state’s poetry group. Just go to the menu on the left and click on “State Links.” A vast majority of states have poetry organizations and many of them are linked on this page.
Beyond those, there is the Academy of American Poets (linked) and Poetry Foundation (also linked). These are two of my favorite organizations. Their websites are chock full of poetry information and resources. Any time I want to look up a poem, a poet, or a poetic term, these are the first two places I check.
Some of these are not so much membership-driven organizations, but organizations with magazine subscriptions. I encourage you poets to check out American Poetry Review, American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI), Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), Poets & Writers (another favorite), Poetry Society of America, Poets House, and Writer’s Digest to name just a few. And these really are just a few of the many poetry focused organizations out there. I could write individual blogs on each of these sites and more going into great detail on what they have to offer.
I am a member of the Florida Writers Association, Florida State Poets Association, National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Academy of American Poets, and American Writers & Artists, Inc.. I currently subscribe to American Poetry Review, American Poets, The Florida Writer, Poetry, Poets & Writers, and Writer’s Digest.
If you have the time, also look into the National Endowment for the Arts. They do incredible things for all of the arts!