At the League, we work hard to support poets by administering programs and funds for governments and private donors and encouraging an appreciative readership and audience for poetry through educational partnerships and presentations to diverse groups. As the recognized voice of Canadian poets, we represent their concerns to governments, publishers, and the public while maintaining connections with similar organizations working towards these goals.
It can be easy to discount the impact that one single person can make, as just one patron of the arts. It can be easy, but we’re here to tell you that your support – in all its forms – is meaningful! There are so many things you can do to support your favourite poets, so many things you might already be doing, maybe without realizing that you’re making an impact.
1. Buy their books!
This is number one on the list because it’s also the most obvious, straight-forward way to support your favourite poet. BUT, did you consider that where you buy books from makes an impact? By buying directly from the publisher – especially if the publisher is a small or independent press – you also help support future publishing opportunities for poets. All Lit Up is an amazing retailer of independently published poetry, and a great resource for readers living in remote areas that may not have a wide selection of booksellers. As an added bonus, shopping through All Lit Up supports the Literary Press Group of Canada, which in turn supports and advocates for independent Canadian literary publishers!
2. Borrow poetry from your local library!
High circulation numbers help alert librarians to what’s popular in their community. If your library doesn’t carry your favourite poet’s work, recommend it! Let the library staff know what you’d like to see on the shelves, and prove it by borrowing the book if they follow your recommendation.
3. Find and follow your favourite poets on their public social media accounts.
Some poets have Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram, some don’t. But if they do, follow them and share their content that excites you. Whether they have social media or not, you can always post about their poetry on your platform of choice. Make public recommendations, write about how you’ve connected to their work and what it means to you, post about their readings (even the ones you’ll sadly have to miss because they’re taking place out of town).
4. Talk about their books.
We may be in the age of social media, but word of mouth is still an extremely powerful tool! Tell friends and family about their books, recommend them to your co-workers, read your favourite poet’s books in public places (we all know bookworms love to see what other bookworms are reading).
5. Review their books.
When your favourite poet releases a new book, write a review. There are so many avenues through which to do this and each avenue offers a different approach or expectation for the reviewer. A review on Amazon, Indigo, or GoodReads could simply be a rating out of five stars or a few sentences on what you enjoyed about the book. Some literary websites have open calls for longer, more formal reviews (like us, Lemonhound, and Cosmonauts Avenue).
6. Tell your MPs and MPPs how important the arts are!
Funding bodies like Canada Council for the Arts/Ontario Arts Council/Toronto Arts Council are government agencies. Many poets rely on grants and funding as part of their livelihood. A large portion of the League’s funding comes from these bodies, too. Social media makes it easier than ever to contact your local politicians. They likely have a Twitter account, or at least have an email address through which you can contact them. Here’s an example of a quick message of support you could send:
Happy National Poetry Month! I am writing to let you know that poetry is important to me – as are all the arts! Poetry connects us and provides a vital outlet for self-expression. I urge you to continue to support initiatives like (insert provincial funding program) so that the arts can continue to flourish in our community.
7. Feature your favourite poet on your blog, podcast, zine, or other publication!
Reach out for an interview – it never hurts to ask!
8. Suggest them for your book club!
Maybe your book club doesn’t usually read poetry, but it’s good to change things up once in a while! If your book club needs some convincing, suggest a collection that is also autobiographical, political, or deals with pop culture. Spin it to get it on your list!
9. If you’re a poet yourself, check out their editing services.
Lots of poets and writers also work as freelance editors and will read your manuscript and provide super valuable feedback. Support them through paying their fees and they’ll support you with help tidying up your manuscript! A real win-win. A selection of our members offer editorial support; you can find a list here.
10. Go to a reading!
If you know of a local spot that hosts poetry readings, suggest your favourite poet. Bring a book of theirs and show off your favourite poem.
A note about sharing the creative work of others on social media…
Remember to always give credit to the person whose work you post. If you type out a line of poetry or take a photo of a page from a book be sure to credit the poet with their name and the name of the book. Visibility is only publicity if the creator is credited!