Morgan Liphart’s work has appeared in anthologies and journals across the US, Canada, and England, such as Oxford University Press’ Literary Imagination, Popshot Quarterly, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her first chapbook, Barefoot and Running, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. She recently launched a groundbreaking poetry masterclass where students can learn step-by-step how to get their poetry placed in journals and magazines worldwide. When she’s not writing, she enjoys her career as an attorney and loves to adventure in the wild spaces surrounding her home near the Rocky Mountains. For more of her poetry, find her on Instagram at @mliphart or visit morganliphart.com. For her masterclass, visit poetry-masterclass.thinkific.com.
James Morehead interviewed Morgan for the Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast to discuss her new Poetry Masterclass: Writing and Publishing Powerful Poetry in Journals and Magazines.
James Morehead: Before talking about your Master Class, you had some exciting news since we last spoke. You were a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Congratulations and share the backstory on that recognition.
Morgan Liphart: “Thank you, it still feels surreal. It was an incredible experience. My first chapbook, ‘Barefoot and Running,’ was nominated for the Colorado Book Awards, which is akin to the Grammys for authors. There were only four nominees in the entire state, and as part of the recognition, we were invited to a reading at Tattered Cover, a beautiful local venue. The event was well-attended and marked my first reading in front of an audience since the pandemic began.
“The awards ceremony was a magnificent black-tie affair. I wore a ball gown with a golden flower design that matched my book cover’s nature theme. My parents flew in to accompany me to the event, where I had the chance to mingle with Pulitzer Prize winners. One of these esteemed authors encouraged me, noting my impressive ‘batting average’ and how it took him four books to receive such recognition. The entire experience was surreal, inspiring, and incredibly supportive.”
James: What was the inspiration for creating your masterclass and how has your experience maturing as a poet influenced the class?
Morgan: “At this point in my career, I feel like I’ve achieved many of my dreams, and now I want to help other writers achieve theirs. I’ve been in this industry for 10 years, starting when I was 21 or 22. I’ve been published in various journals, magazines, and other outlets, gaining valuable experience. Over the years, I’ve learned so many little things through trial and error that are not typically taught in classes, such as writing cover letters and tailoring submissions for success.
“I had to learn these things the hard way by failing, adjusting, and eventually creating templates and strategies for my poetry submissions. I realized that I have so much knowledge to share with others. While it’s great to achieve your own dreams, I believe part of our purpose in life is to help others achieve theirs. That’s the phase I’m in now and the reason behind creating this masterclass. It took me a year or two to develop and was definitely a labor of love, but it was 100% worth it.”
James: I thoroughly enjoyed your class, which you gave me a sneak peek of. I went through the entire course and learned so many small but important things that traditional poetry classes don’t teach. Neither of us pursued an MFA, and while there are numerous classes on the craft of poetry, there isn’t really a practical, step-by-step guide for getting your poetry read and heard. I found your class very helpful, sincere, and relatable. Who do you consider to be your ideal audience for this class?
Morgan: “My ideal audience is a writer who has been writing poetry for years and dreams of getting published but hasn’t quite gotten there yet. They may have tried and received rejections or don’t even know how to approach a literary journal or magazine for submission. I’m targeting those new to the process. I believe that if you follow my steps, you can make your poetry publisher-ready, with a focus on commercial appeal rather than the academic side. The class covers improving your poetry and getting it into journals and magazines. My audience consists of people who want their first publication, and from there, they can continue to grow and eventually be published all over the world.
“Regarding my approach to the class, this is the first time I’ve filmed a course, and I felt like I truly came alive while creating these modules. I felt more like myself than ever before, which indicates that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. There’s something fulfilling about teaching poetry and helping others spread their art worldwide.”
James: Your genuine excitement and desire to help people really come through in the class, making it feel sincere. Poetry is such an open-ended art form with many ways to express ideas using poetic language and forms. Can you discuss the structure of your masterclass and how you chose the topics to focus on?
Morgan: “The masterclass is divided into different modules. The first module serves as an introduction where I discuss the details of the class and my philosophy on poetry, explaining why we want to write poetry and share it with the world. This module was filmed in Ireland on the beautiful cliffs in Waterford County. The last module, also filmed in Ireland, is a pep talk and a wrap-up of the course.
“The modules in between guide you step-by-step through the process of improving your poetry, highlighting the do’s and don’ts, and helping you make your poetry stand out to editors. I cover how to select a literary journal, create and tailor your submission, choose poems for the journal, send off your submission, and interpret the response you receive. The course covers all these little industry details that you only learn after going through the process many times.”
James: The trial and error elements in your course will certainly save people time. Instead of taking a decade to learn everything you have, they can quickly absorb your distilled lessons. When it comes to ordering poems in a collection, it can be a stressful process for most writers, especially for their first book. I imagine structuring your masterclass was equally challenging. How did you decide what to include, the order and pace of the content, and what to leave out?
Morgan: “To be honest, I feel like I was quite lucky, as the content and structure of the curriculum just flowed. I wrote everything out, and over the course of a month, I kept thinking of additional valuable insights to include. These little nuggets of gold were incorporated into the structure as I thought of them. The fact that it all came together so smoothly makes me feel like I’m doing something I’m meant to be doing, as it all just seemed to magically click into place.”
James: Many poets, like you and me, have busy working lives in parallel to poetry. Dana Gioia, for example, was a marketing executive for many years before dedicating himself full-time to writing. Most poets have some parallel career, as only a select few can make poetry their primary income source. How do you balance and prioritize everything you need to do, along with the necessary effort to work and pay the bills? What’s your advice on finding that balance?
Morgan: “I have a lesson on this in the masterclass, which I learned through trial and error. As you know, I’m an attorney in addition to being a poet, so I have two different careers going on. My best tip for managing this is having one simple rule: do at least one thing every day that will advance your poetry career. This can be something small like revising a poem or something larger like hosting a podcast or promoting your poetry on social media. The idea is to be flexible depending on your time and energy for that day. When you go to bed, you’ll know you did something to further your writing career. Over the years, these small steps add up and help you achieve your dreams. This approach has been really powerful for me because it’s doable to accomplish one small thing a day.”
James: I love that advice because sometimes, in between meetings, if I need a breather or downtime, I’ll pick up a poem I’m working on and just focus on something that needs to be revised. This can be done in 5-10 minutes and helps to maintain momentum. It becomes a habit and makes it much easier to do one small or big thing every day. In addition to discussing a diverse collection of poetry topics, you’ve included downloadable guides, activities, and tools in your masterclass. Talk about some of the resources students can expect to receive as part of the class.
Morgan: “One of the most beneficial things about this course is the resources I’ve crafted for the students. I have a large list of journals to submit to, which saves time in searching for open journals. I’ve been using this list for over five years and have continually updated it, making it a unique and helpful resource. I also provide an Excel spreadsheet for organizing submissions, which helps manage first North American serial rights and keeps track of what you’ve sent, where, and when.
“Another lesson in the class focuses on calling yourself a real writer, not an aspiring writer. This mindset shift is powerful. I designed a certificate for students to put on their fridge, acknowledging themselves as real writers and moving forward with confidence. This simple yet effective tactic helps to encourage belief in oneself.”
James: It’s powerful to call yourself a poet, and once you put it on equal footing with your other roles, it changes the way you look at each day. So, what are two or three key things you hope students will take away from your masterclass?
Morgan: “Of course, there’s the technical advice about writing powerful poetry, which will help people craft better poems. But the big things I’m excited to teach include the concept of not giving up. In one lesson, I emphasize the importance of tenacity because you need it in this business. Even the best writers hear many “nos,” and you can’t let yourself be stopped by a rejection. You have to keep going and maintain a long-term mindset. Every writer in the industry is going through the same thing.
“That’s a pep talk I purposefully recorded because I want students to be able to return to that lesson when they’re disappointed by rejections. Even I still get disappointed sometimes. The tenacity aspect will be a game-changer for people, and with the Thinkific platform, they can always access the class and have me in their living room or kitchen, giving them a motivational pep talk.
James: Being tenacious is so important, and that really comes through in the class. There are many stories of established authors who took years to find a home for a book. Rejections don’t necessarily mean anything negative about your work. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right or it wasn’t what the journal was looking for. The more you submit, the less you’re affected by rejections.
Morgan: “That’s right, it’s a numbers game. You never know what the journal is considering when they’re putting together an issue. There could be various reasons why your poem didn’t make it in, but you can’t take it personally.”
James: So, how can listeners learn more about your master class?
Morgan: “You can find information about the class on my Instagram account @mliphart, where I also post poetry and inspiring content. Additionally, you can visit my website on the Thinkific platform. Feel free to message me on Instagram if you have any questions, and I’ll be happy to get back to you.”
The full interview including poems recited by Morgan Liphart is available on the Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast.