These days there are scores, maybe even hundreds, of quality online magazines and journals where budding poets can submit their work. At any given time, there are also scores, maybe even hundreds, of competitions available that are looking for anything from a single poem to a full-length collection. Right now, life is good for poets seeing publication.
But sadly, most places that offer publication as an end result will require some level of payment as a prerequisite. A £5, or even £10, fee for a single-poem entry into a competition is not unusual, and £25 for a collection seems now to be the standard. And while most magazines might still allow you to submit free-of-charge, many point out that the best way to see what type of poetry they are looking for (and the best way to increase you chances of publication) is to subscribe first.
The costs can quickly build up, and not all of us are in a position to be able to subscribe to every magazine, or enter every competition, we want. These days I have to be very picky about where my poetry-investment money goes.
One place I have decided to spend my money, however, is the Hedgehog Poetry Press. It’s basically a one-man show, set up and run by Mark Davidson, who does an amazing job of producing a constant stream of new publications, many available as free downloads and most of the others at very reasonable cost.
The Press also runs A LOT of competitions. At any one time there are usually three or four available, including ones for full collections, chapbooks or even 4-poem micro-collections. This year, they are also branching out into short fiction as well as poetry, and so there are likely to be even more opportunities for publication.
Competitions come with a fairly typical pricing structure (£5 for single poem, £25 for collection) but this is where the Hedgehog Press offers great value for money and why I’m happy to give them some of mine on a regular basis. For £25 per quarter, you can join the wonderfully named ‘Cult of the Spiny Hog’, which its their version of a subscription fee. And membership gives you four amazing benefits.
Firstly, all competitions become free to enter. For a dedicated submitter, who enters everything they have on offer, this could easily amount to anything up to £100 each quarter. Secondly, you get access to the Press back issue collection and can download anything you want for free. Thirdly, you have access to their monthly challenges – which are basically even more competitions, but limited to Cult members. And finally, at least once a quarter and occasionally twice, Mark will send you a bundle of every book and booklet the Press has published in recent months. Actual books. For your poetry bookshelf.
So basically, if you’re an active reader and writer of poetry, membership is not only an amazing bargain, but also an amazing opportunity to develop as a poet – believe me, entering that many competitions requires a lot of work! And if you’re not interested in, or in a position to pay for, membership, go visit the website anyway. It’s well worth your time.