Poetry Contests, the National Library of Poetry, and Amateur Poetry Anthologies

One of my jobs as a digital reference specialist is to answer questions submitted through the Poetry and Literature Center’s Ask a Librarian form. The questions I receive tend to cluster around two or three major categories, such as how to find literary criticism on a novel and how to locate the full text of a poem without knowing its title and author. By far the most common question I receive, however, comes from people trying to find poems that they wrote, submitted to a poetry contest, and subsequently had published in a poetry anthology.

In almost every instance, the poems in question were published by an amateur, or vanity press, poetry publisher. These for-profit publishers, which have been extremely active since the 1980s, accept nearly every poem submitted to their contests for publication, and make money by encouraging winning poets to purchase copies of the anthologies in which their poems appear.

The Library of Congress has become a locus of questions about vanity press poetry publishers—receiving upwards of two-hundred inquiries per year—because many people mistakenly believe that the Library itself publishes and sells these anthologies. This misconception occurs for a number of reasons. First, the names of some amateur poetry publishers are quite similar to the Library of Congress. One of the largest amateur poetry publishers in the 1990s and 2000s was the National Library of Poetry, whose name is frequently confused with the Library of Congress, or, as many people refer to us, the “National Library of Congress.” Second, many of these publishers send emails and letters to winning poets that link their anthologies with the Library of Congress. Their correspondence sometimes notes that the anthologies will be submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress, or that the anthologies will be assigned a “number” by the Library of Congress. People often take this to mean that the Library of Congress will add the book to its permanent collections, or will assign it an ISBN number. The National Library of Poetry, in fact, printed ISBNs on its anthologies” copyright pages in such a way that people might assume the numbers were issued by or associated with the Library of Congress:

Copyright page of the National Library of Poetry anthology East of Sunrise.

Copyright page of the National Library of Poetry anthology East of Sunrise.

In practice, the Library rarely adds these books to its collections, and is not responsible for assigning ISBNs to books. Rather, what will usually happen is that the anthology will be registered with the Copyright Office and receive a copyright registration number.

To help people find poems they’ve had published by amateur poetry publishers, the Library has created an online guide to amateur poetry anthologies. The guide discusses the standard practices of these publishers, includes entries on dozens of active and inactive publishers, and offers tips on how to locate the anthologies through libraries and bookstores. If you’re looking for a poem that you, a family member, or a friend submitted to a contest or had published in a poetry anthology, please take a look at the guide and see if it helps with your search. Of course, we are happy to assist you directly as well: simply email your question to our Ask a Librarian service and we’ll do all we can to help you find your poem.


  1. George Cooper lll
    July 22, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I had a poem published in this book in 1986 can I view it? George Cooper lll

    • Peter Armenti
      July 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Hi George. If you’re trying to locate a poem you had published in a poetry anthology published in 1986, please submit your question to the Poetry & Literature Center’s Ask a Librarian Web form. I’ll be happy to help you track it down. Any further details you can provide, such as the name of the book’s publisher, the title of the anthology, or the title of your poem will give me the best chance of locating it. Thanks.

      -Peter Armenti

  2. Stephany
    January 19, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I also had a poem published & recieved papers from ” the national library of poetry” saying I was to be published in one of their volumes. I never got the book though. I would like to know if my poem is there somewhere & if there is a book obtainable. If so I woukd love to purchase a copy. My poem was titled Through All & my name is Stephany Renae Blackard.

    • Peter Armenti
      January 22, 2013 at 9:27 am

      Stephany, I’m going to add your question to our Ask a Librarian service and respond to you outside of these comments. I was able to find a copy of your poem through the Poetry.com database, and will send it to you soon.

  3. laila abrahami
    January 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    i have written 2 poems in the library of congress under the greatist poets of the 20th century how can find my poems, thank you.

  4. Helen Farina
    February 9, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I sent a poem in 1996 received a letter back asking me to initial it for accuracy .I was supposed to send it back to 11419-10 Cronridge Drive Post office box 704 Owings Mills Maryland 21117 Phone #410-356-2000 The date was Feb. 5th 1996 I was in the process of moving and never did anything about it Long story short I just found th eletter I now live in Delaware There was a notation to put it in the sound of poetry It said it was a wonderful verse the name of the poem was MY VISION by Helen E Farina please check into this I appreciate it Thank you Hope you understand everything I am just learning te computer and I’m turning 73 so I thought I better do something with my poems I remain Helen Farina

  5. Michael L Lane
    February 12, 2013 at 5:35 am

    I had several poems posted on the “National Library of Poetry” and/or poetry.com. There are several that were entered into contests, but the names of the two most remembered poems are:
    “One and Only Jewel” and “A Single Bloom.” One or both of these poems were supposed to be published in “America at the Millinium: The Best Poems and Poets of the 20th Century.”
    I have been to both sites listed above, several times, and tried to access my poems, but have been unable to do so. If you could help me, I would be ever so grateful. Thanking you in advance for your time and assistance.
    Michael L. Lane,

  6. Donald Watkins
    March 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I have three poems that I would like to have published. What courde of action can you recomend

  7. Chris Barach
    March 14, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I entered a poetry contest from Maryland around 1979-1978. The contest was in our local newspaper. I had papers that said my poem would be published in one of their volumes. My poem was titled “Growing Together”.I was wondering if it was possible to get a copy of the book my poem was in.
    Thank you

  8. Christine McVey
    April 4, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I had a poem published in 1993 in the anthology ” Where Dreams Begin” and I would like to know where I can purchase that edition?

    Thank you

  9. The Bastard of Doggerel from evilCozPoetry
    April 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I think it was titled: “Shadows and Light”. Published by the National Library of Poetry. I think in about 1991/2. I don’t remember the title of the poem I submitted. But I do remember that I was nominated for “Poet of the Year”. And I gave permission for my work to be published. As well as giving additional permissions to have come, Soap Opera Personality, read my poem in front of some baroque music, to be recorded on audio tape. I was thinking, like, Cajun? Bar-B-Que? LOL.
    Of course they wanted money too. Which I never gave, But, supposedly that didn’t change my chances of winning. Did anyone ever win that wasn’t affiliated with the company?

    The last name would be Perkins. I can’t remember which given name I gave.
    Can anything be found from the info. I just mentioned?

    Thank you,
    evilC aka “The Bastard of Doggerel” who once thought he was a real cool cat.

  10. Virginia Harmon
    April 14, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Peter, my name is Virginia Harmon and I hope that you’ll be able to assist me. In 1993, I submitted a poem to The National Library of Poetry and recieved a letter stating that my poem had been chosen to be published in an anthology titled A Break in the Clouds. The name of the poem was My Little Bundle of Joy. I would like to purchase a copy of this anthology if at all possible. Any help you can assist me with in this matter will be greatly appreciated. Thanks
    V. Harmon

  11. Jackie Smith
    June 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I would love to find it at any means possible. The title was “Scars”…Please help me and inform me if I can be of any assistance.
    Thank you

  12. Tammy Leach
    June 30, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Hi, I had a poem published in an anthology from the national library of poetry in a book called Of Diamonds and Rust, the poems title was ;Rumors, I recently found a copy and bought it but I did not realize there was more than one volume, the volume i bought is volume two. My poem was not there, i am trying to find the right volume I am in and purchase it. I originally had a copy but it got destroyed any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  13. Gail Berreitter
    July 21, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I want to thank you for this information as it was confusing to me when I was getting emails from them about being published. All they wanted was to have me send money to get the award and to be published.

    I have a number of poems published through the National Library of Poetry. I, too, would like to know if they got into an anthology. Also, how do you see these anthologies?

    Painful Knowledge and Come Talk to me were two of my poems. I thought I did another, but can’t remember.

    Thank you!

  14. Daphne Allen-Haas
    September 22, 2013 at 1:36 am

    I would love to view or locate my poem submited & published into the National Library of Poetry thr title is
    “Broken Leafs” I ws suppose to recieve a book as well with my published poem I ws around the age of sixteen when I submited my poem.I am now almost 35 years old and would also love to submit more but mainly I want to find my already submited poem from years ago and possible find out why I never recieved thr book after hours and many correct ing errors in the way that they deemed fit, thank ttu and I really hope I find my poem

  15. Brenda Dixon
    January 17, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I am trying to find out if a poem I wrote in 1997 was published in the Sound of Poetry….

    hope you can help.

  16. Sheila
    January 24, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I see you are helping amateur poets find submissions. I have a poem in the National Library of Poetry’s 1996 or ’97 anthology “Into the Unknown”. I purchased a copy as described in the above article and have since lost it. Would like to replace it but not with the blue hard copy offered by the female editor. It is a burgundy book with a square picture of trees I believe. Thank you for your help.

  17. chase positerry
    January 25, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    wrote poem called the game for the national library of poetry owings mills maryland the book was called on wings of the wind need to see if i can buy that book

  18. Vincent T. Gallegos
    February 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I had submitted a poem back in the 90’s and was wondering if you still have the book available to purchase. The name of the poem was “Our Golden Dreams”.

  19. Elizabeth A. Dougherty, Spicer
    February 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Dear Peter, Good Day! I submitted a poem around the year 1995-1996 called “REFLECTIONS” published into a book called THROUGH THE HOUR GLASS… Into the National Library of poetry! I was also asked to resubmit my poem for the Millenium but didn’t even have the funds to buy the first book. I don’t know if this book of poetry has one Volume or 2. Please if you could send me some information of how I can obtain a copy of this book. And to inform me if it cost me anything for you to respond to these questions and answers? Thank You, Elizabeth +++

  20. Brenda Dixon
    February 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I have recently sent a letter of request ot the NLP and I had it returned

    Iwondered if someone could send me the latest address of this organization.

    the National Library of Poetry as at 2014.

  21. Janet
    February 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I had a poem that I wrote and it was printed in a book called Tracing Shadows. I was told it would be in the National Library of Congress. If you wanted a copy of the book with your poem printed in it, you had to buy the book. That may be why some of you never got a book. I thought I would past that along to everyone. The book has thousands of poems in it and in the back, it has a bio about the person who wrote the poem. You had to give them permission to print that information if you wanted it featured in the year that your poem was written.

    April 13, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    my mother…wrote a lot of poems and sent them to you. my mother passed dec24 2012. we were looking through her papers and found one of your proof of the poems. it was called summer rain. she had one published i don’t know what year but i would like to have all the poems she sent you. do you keep them long? the one about summer rain has a date of dec 30 1994. is there any way you could send me her poems. thank you carol daniels.

  23. Debi Schiller
    April 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Hi…My name is Debi and a friend of mine has asked me to find a poem he got published thru the national library of poetry in about 1997…The poem was titled “inner beauty” and it was copyrighted to Michael Goldsberry…he also gave me a pin #…If possible i’d also like to find any poems by myself…any help you can give would be great…thank you for your time and help…

  24. goldie lara
    April 26, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    hi my name is goldie lara formerly goldie shell. in the 1990’s i wrote and sent in 2 of my poems. COME TAKE MY HAND which won the silver poet or golden poet. and MAJESTIC. i was going through my old papers and i found several of my poems and one of the responses from you .vipp1057476-100 dated october 2 1997. i was wondering if they were in any poetry book?
    thankyou goldie lara
    5014 erdman ave baltimore md. 21205

  25. Josh Schneider
    May 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Like most kids, I submitted a poem I wrote in the mid to late 90s. I have no idea who I submitted it to, but I believe the poem was called ‘Shadows of Despair’. I am trying to locate it, can you please help?

  26. Debbie Smith
    May 27, 2014 at 10:51 am

    I too entered a contest with the National Library of Poetry. I believe it was in 1996. They told me it would be published, wanted me to purchase the book, but never did. My Poem was titled “Cry for the Babies”. My name is Debra Bedell Smith or I may have signed it Debbie Bedell Smith. Is there a way to find it? Thank you so much.

    P.S. I found some others titled the same, but not mine.

  27. Rhea Jeffrey
    May 31, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Hello, I entered a poem back in 1995 there about and I am hoping that you can assist me in finding this poem as soon as possible as I would like to read at my grandmother funeral. It was named Delomie..


    • Peter Armenti
      June 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      Dear Rhea,

      I located your poem and sent it to you as an attachment in a separate email. I’m sorry for your loss.


  28. penny dunne
    June 4, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I had a poem publushed in 1995 national library of poetry.The Preface. By penny dunne …..never saw it. they told me the wrong book…Feb

  29. Erica Goldman
    July 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    I submitted a poem, titled ‘Nature Walk’ in 1995, when I was 16 years old. I remember receiving a letter asking for permission for it to be published in the NLP anthology titled After the Storm – but my mother did not want it published as she felt it wasn’t fair to my siblings that they wouldn’t be recognized. I know….really unfortunate, right? I believe there was information about having it placed on a tape for people to listen to as well, some of the details are a little foggy. I have been trying to locate my poem ever since but I am fearful that the floppy disk it was stored on at the time has since been destroyed. I purchased After the Storm back in 2005 to see if it had been published but couldn’t locate it but I’m not surprised as my mother admitted a few years ago that she lied when she told me she sent in the release form. Could you please check the archives for my poem, Nature Walk. Thank you!

  30. Eddie Jacobs
    August 10, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I have been published in several of their anthologies over the past years. The book I had entitled East of The Sunrise was lost to me while moving around. Is there anyway you can locate this or any other poem published by me in their anthology series.

  31. Christine Newsom
    September 10, 2014 at 7:42 am

    I had a poem published in an anthology in the 80s. I do not remember the publisher’s name nor the title of the book or poem. It was a program where you actually had to pay, supposedly for the book, but I don’t have the book and have lost the hard copy of the poem. I would truly like to find it again since it was about my first born. Where should I go and what should I do?

  32. mahinour
    September 12, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Dear Mr/Mrs

    My name is Mahinour a 21 years old , a medical student
    i am from Egypt
    i have written English poetry and i was wondering how to get em published
    i have had a chance to publish poems in a couple of anthologies
    but since then i have been searching for a journal or magazine
    i would be grateful if you could help me get my poetry publish or guide me to the right way


  33. bernice williams
    September 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    hello, my name is Bernice Williams I also had several poems published in one or more of your anthologies back in the late 90’s. I would love to know how I can get noticed once again. The name of one of my poems were, “the old home place”

    September 22, 2014 at 10:22 am


  35. Angela McLeod
    September 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I had a poem published in 2002 in a book called where dreams begin. I attended the William Shakespeare banquet for the poetry convention in Orlando Florida and they told me it was published in that book in the Library of Congress.

  36. rich
    October 6, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    how do I submit poetry for publishing possibility.

  37. Joan Ellis
    October 16, 2014 at 2:16 am

    I have been trying to find a poem called SKIPPING STONES. It won first place in an anthology I believe was called ON THE THRESHOLD OF A DREAM published by NATIONAL LIBRARY OF POETRY. Do you know where I could get a copy of that poem? Thanks

  38. timberre mims
    November 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I too have been searching tirelessly for a poem
    I did years ago titled ” IT WAS JUST A DREAM”
    was rated number one and I was offered to be flown
    Out to do the poem to Shirley Franklin..please help me find it I really love that poem

  39. Marcia J. Turner
    November 19, 2014 at 4:44 am

    I was supposed to have had a poem, “Love Me Forever”, published in the book, “The Coming of Dawn”, in the early nineties, but do not know if it was. At the time it was to be printed, I couldn’t afford to buy the book, so I never got to “see” my poem in print. I actually lost the only copy I had of my poem,(we moved), so I was hoping that it still exists somewhere. Do you think you can help me? Thank you, Marcia J. Turner

  40. Debbie Christian
    November 29, 2014 at 1:03 am

    I was sent an award letter when I was 19 (1990/91) & I’m 42 now stating that a poem I wrote would be published in Of Diamonds and Rust Vol.1 & wanted me to buy a copy of the anthology I didn’t have the money for it & have since been in a traumatic accident can not for the life of me remember the name of the poem but remember all that I think it was something like”The World Today” I would really like to have a copy for my children any help finding it would be greatly appreciated and such a blessing Thank you, Debbie Christian

  41. joanne eckert
    December 13, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Hi I had a poem published at one point, it was a poetry contest, I have since moved and lost most of my belongings and was hoping you could find the publishing. I never did receive a copy of the book. Thank you.

  42. keith bryant
    December 18, 2014 at 5:16 am

    Trying to fi d my poem called “a little flame”.Published in early to mid 80’s i beleave.Wolud love to find it for my daughter for whom it was written.Thank you.

  43. Crystle
    January 11, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Is there an actual valid website for the “National Library of Poetry” or are they no longer?

    • Peter Armenti
      January 12, 2015 at 9:55 am

      Dear Crystle,

      The National Library of Poetry’s (NLP’s) official website was formerly Poetry.com. The NLP, which was part of a larger company (Watermark Media Group, Inc.), is no longer active, and no longer has an official website. That said, Poetry.com still remains an active website–it is now operated by the company Newton Rhymes, LLC. For additional information, you can take a look at our entry on the NLP in our online guide to amateur poetry anthologies.



  44. David F. Lee
    January 20, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    What happened to the national library of poetry in Owens mills, Md.? are they still in business? can they still be reached? I get a run around when I try to search them on the internet

    • Peter Armenti
      January 28, 2015 at 7:42 am

      Hi David,

      The National Library of Poetry (NLP) is no longer in business, and consequently can no longer be reached. The NLP formerly ran the Poetry.com website, which is still active but is now operated by a different company, Newton Rhymes, LLC. For additional information, you can take a look at our entry on the NLP in our online guide to amateur poetry anthologies. If you have additional questions about the company, or need help locating a poem you submitted to the NLP, please feel free to contact me through our Poetry and Literature Center Ask a Librarian form and I’ll be happy to provide additional assistance.



  45. Jessica madau
    January 23, 2015 at 12:18 am

    I had a poem published in the 90’s (libary of congress) the title was Day Break something similar to that title, an I would like to locate the book to purchase if possible,how can I do that?

  46. mmana Bathobakae
    February 1, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    I am trying to locate my poems…One of my poems titled “Love is what it is” was nominated on the international poetry awards which took place in washington in 2012. I was then asked to send 10 more poems to be included on the anthology of poems. I was promised to get a copy bt to this date I never received any. Please help me locate it.


    Mmana Bathobakae

  47. Heather Chapman
    February 6, 2015 at 1:08 am

    I entered 2 poems in a publishing contest back in 1993-94 and was told they would be in that years poetry book which I was unable to purchase at that time but I had every reason to believe it was an authentic reputable association as I believe they were still issuing new collections each year, but now all I can recall is that the name was along the lines of American Poetry Guild of America, and now I would like to see if my poems were really published and if so would I be able to purchase an issue from that far back?
    I hope you will be able to help me, or at least direct me on the right path. An ex-friend of mine stole and plagerized many of my writings, one of which was one of the two that I believed to be copy protected because of it’s being published, and have always wondered ever since if I could have filed a law suit against her. None the less, it would be something to show for my life that I was always proud of.
    Will be looking forward to your response. Thank you!

  48. michelle
    February 8, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    I have wrote 13 poems to your libaray and I would like to get the book there in or if there on a plaque I know there would be a price for them….

  49. arizona cunningham
    February 12, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    I’m trying to help my mom find a poem she wrote for her first daughter who passed away. The poem.was written in 1995, I believe. It was published in a book, but my mom does not remember the title of the book. The title of the poem is called ” in memory of ” my mom’s name is Michelle Leonard. Her and my father tried finding the book back when it was published but never had any luck. If you could help me find this poem for her, I would be forever grateful.

  50. tommy grace
    February 24, 2015 at 12:47 am

    i have a poem i need to find bad it was in the book a far away place could you tell me if my name is in there and if so how could i purchase a copy

  51. Cindy Knapp
    February 24, 2015 at 11:28 am

    I had a poem published in the mid-late 90’s. I think it was in Ebbing Tide. Can you please help me find it? I am trying to establish myself as an Author now and wold like to mention this. I do not remember which poem it was.

    Thank you!

  52. Blic Echols Jr
    February 26, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Hi my name is Blic Echols Jr, I have several poems i have writen and would like to try and get them published, but i have no idea on how to go about it, If you could possibly give me some more information about it on how to go about it on my email address i would greatly appreciate it, thank you and have a good day

  53. wanda jones
    March 9, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I published a poem in the national library of poetry bk n the late 80 r early 90 I did recieve a book w my poem n the book called reality of life soon after the house burn down I tryed to get another book they told me it wasnt n there computer anymore how can I retreive the book w my poem in it, an how do I get in d next contest, plz dont send ur answer by email my computer is broken u may tex me (deleted) r mail me at delete) thank u in advance wanda jones

  54. Arlene DeFilippo
    March 15, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I hope you can help me to locate a few of my poems. I did purchase one of my poems called Gentle Footsteps in the Book the is called “A Lasting Mirage – The National Library of Poetry. Editor Caroline Sullivan. Copyright 1997. Manufactured in The United States of American by Watermark Press – 1 Poetry Plaza Owings Mills, MD 21117. Address all inquiries to Jeffrey Franz, Publisher. Hope this will help someone find their poem. I am looking for my poem called “Why” It was written about a homeless lady. I would love to find the Poetry book that it was published in. It was nominated on the international poetry awards which took place in New York – which I never attended, but did receive a certificate. I would appreciate any help. Thank you!

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.