Publishers of such amateur poetry anthologies typically run regular poetry contests publicized in newspapers, magazines, and on the Web. Almost every poem submitted to these contests is declared a “semifinalist” or “winner” and accepted for publication in a forthcoming anthology of winning poems. People are usually encouraged by the publisher to purchase a copy of the anthology in which their poem is slated to appear, and sometimes are notified that purchase of a copy is a requirement for their poem to be printed in the anthology. Publishers that require poets to pay to have their work published are known as vanity presses. The largest publisher of vanity poetry anthologies since 1980, and the one about which the Library of Congress receives the most inquiries, is the International Library of Poetry (ILP).
Many times, vanity presses such as the ILP attempt to link their anthologies to the Library of Congress, stating in letters or emails to contestants that their anthologies are stored or placed in the Library of Congress. Many people mistakenly assume this means that the Library of Congress has published or endorsed their poetry, which is not the case. Instead, this usually means that the anthologies are registered or deposited with the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress, which does not guarantee that the anthology will be held by the Library. In fact, most amateur poetry anthologies are not retained for the Library’s permanent collections.
This guide describes many of the publishers that have run poetry contests whose winning poems were published in amateur poetry anthologies, and offers information on how to locate these anthologies at the Library of Congress, other libraries, and bookstores. Many publisher entries include links to WorldCat, a global library catalog that can be used to identify libraries that hold copies of anthologies. Alternative names for publishers, their years of activity, and details about their publishing practices are provided when possible. If you believe your poem was published by one of these companies, please contact the Library’s Digital Reference Section with all available details regarding your poem (publisher; publication date; anthology title; poem title; name under which the poem was published; etc.) for further assistance locating it.
The guide is divided into two sections:
- Amateur Poetry Anthology Publishers
- Finding Amateur Poetry Anthologies in Libraries and Bookstores
Access the Complete Guide
Source: Digital Reference Section, Library of Congress
Created by Peter Armenti