The Financial Lives of Poets and Writers
One of the best things to come out of the travel I've been doing lately—to the cities on the Poets & Writers Live tour as well as to other writers conferences and festivals I’ve attended in the past few years—is the unfiltered feedback I’ve received from readers of this magazine. Hearing opinions directly from the writers for whom we put these pages together is invaluable. While our author profiles, interviews, news reports, craft essays, and advice columns elicit many illuminating responses, readers report that one of the most popular sections of the magazine—if not the most popular—can be found near the back: the listings of contest deadlines (page 101) and prizewinners (121) as well as information about upcoming conferences and residencies (133). That’s good to hear, considering how much time and resources we spend compiling these information-rich listings for each issue. Every member of the editorial staff is involved in some way to ensure that they are accurate, that they represent only those contests and retreats that are of real value to our readers, and that the financial risk or investment is commensurate with the potential reward. We take into consideration the entry fee and the prize amount for any given contest, while scrutinizing the application fee, program offerings, and price of each retreat.
A couple of years ago we put together a special section highlighting nearly a hundred contests that charge no entry fees. Needless to say, it was a popular feature. If there’s one thing a writer needs more of, I’m sure we can all agree, it’s money. Apart from that, an opportunity to save money works just as well. So for this issue we decided to take a look at retreats, book fairs, and festivals that are free—or, in the case of a number of the residencies, those that charge only a relatively modest application fee. The result is a listing of more than eighty no- to low-cost getaways in thirty-eight states (54). There are so many potentially impactful opportunities for writers out there, and not all of them cost a lot of money.
And one more thing about unfiltered feedback: Perhaps you’ve noticed that Letters (11) is featuring more and more tweets lately. Twitter is great—keep those tweets coming—but is it replacing the letter to the editor? Let me know, if you have a moment. And remember, there’s no character limit on an e-mail (email@example.com). Whatever you’re writing—a tweet, an e-mail, or a letter; a poem, an essay, a story, or a novel—I wish you the best of luck with your work.