Prepare copies of your poem. The number of copies depends on whether the poem has been published. For copyright purposes, "published" just means that copies of a work have been distributed to the public. So passing out copies of your poem would probably count, but publicly displaying a copy would not. If your poem has been published, you will need two complete copies of the "best edition." If it has not been published, you only need one copy, and you can use an electronic copy to save time and expense.
Fill out the registration form. Navigate to the U.S. Copyright Office website, click on eCO login and follow the instructions to log in to eCO and begin registration of a new claim. When asked for the "Type of Work" that you are registering, select "Literary Work." Then fill out the online form with information about you and your poem. There will be several screens of questions.
Pay the filing fee. After you finish the form and select "Checkout," you will be given the option of paying the filing fee by credit or debit card, funds transfer or a deposit account. Follow the directions to make payment.
Submit the "deposit." This is the copy or copies of your poem that you prepared earlier. If you are submitting an electronic copy, follow the directions to upload it. Otherwise, follow the directions to print a shipping slip. If you are mailing the deposit, make sure to send it within 30 days.
Registering by Mail
Print the appropriate form and fill it out. You can use Short Form TX if you are the only author of your poem, you didn't write the poem for hire and the poem is completely new. Otherwise, use Form TX.
Prepare copies of your poem. If your poem has been published, you will need two complete copies of the "best edition." If it has not been published, you only need one copy. The rules for deciding whether your poem has been published are the same as if you were registering electronically.
Send the completed form, the copy or copies of your poem and a check for the registration fee to the U.S. Copyright Office. You won't hear from the copyright office until it has processed your application, which can take many months. Once the office is done you will get a certificate of registration in the mail.