- All poems should be single spaced (unless otherwise spaced for the effect of your poem
- It should be your absolutely best work
- Each poem gets it’s own (and counts as) one page. If a poem is longer than one page in it’s format, it counts as however many pages it takes, and the next poem should be on a brand new page.
- Take very good care of the portfolio if it’s a physical piece
Now, the steps:
Begin with focusing on what the portfolio is for. Although you can have a go-to portfolio, with what you believe is your best work, you should be constantly updating it, because as a writer, you will grow, and what is your best will continue to evolve over time. Also, each submission may require anywhere from 5-25 pages, so you may need to add or cut from an existing portfolio.
In the case you are starting from scratch, you can either pick your absolutely best work, or think of the portfolio as a series, with a theme. If you are having trouble narrowing down the poems, sometimes this approach will make it clearer.
Again, by focusing on what the portfolio is geared for, you can decide whether or not you can use your favorite 20 point font, or if you can have an amazing title. Almost every place will have qualifications, such as page count (as addressed earlier) and format. What isn’t addressed in the qualifications is completely up to the author, as to what will do the most work for your poems
After you’ve completed this, and come out with a piece of work you are very proud of, follow this even simpler process:
- 1. Read the poems aloud. In sequence. If there is a title, read that as well.
- 2. Edit the order to the best sound.
- 3. Edit the poems.
- 4. Have someone else read it, and complete steps 2-3.
- 5. Let it sit, and then read it silently. Try to get into the mindset of an un-invested outsider. If you are thoroughly impressed, it is ready to submit.
Assume you will hear a no. This is hard to wrap around, as a concept, especially when you are so certain it is a great work. Perhaps the judge was having a bad day, or you reminded him of someone who cut him off on the highway. Perhaps the font was offensive or the poems didn’t deal with the subject matter they wanted to focus on. Either way you cut it, assume they will say no.
And if they say yes, it will be such a happy surprise.
You might be wondering right now, ‘why put all this work in, just to expect to get rejected?’ With poetry, especially in this competitive market, 9 out of 10 will reject definitely. And the tenth, maybe. Sometimes, people don’t even look at the submission. Rejection is a helpful part of the process. And hurtful. But still, necessary.