Yesterday I went to the SCBWI-FL conference in Orlando, and followed the poetry track, where we spent the whole day with Lee Bennett Hopkins, who has done numerous anthologies for children, and Kristin Daly from Harper Collins, who aquires poetry, picture books, and a few other things.
A couple things I learned about writing poetry:
1. Make every word count...there is no room for fillers.NO 'empty calories' allowed. That means do not use the words JUST, BUT, AND, THE, QUITE. Each syllable of a poem must move it to action.
2.Watch out for uneven or forced meter...do not give the editors an excuse for dumping your poem.
3. Don't be afraid to stand out from the pack. Use themes based on basic childhood experiences...with a new twist.
There are three types of poetry books:
1. Original poetry...your own collection
2. General anthology...a conglomeration of poems with little or no connection
3. Specific anthology...theme-based books. These sell the best.
Babybug, Boy's Quest, Cicada, Cricket, Hopscotch, Iguana (must be originally written in Spanish), Odyssey.
Poetry-friendly publishing houses:
Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin
Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux
Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon and Schuster
And, I would say, Harper Collins.
At the end we had 'Poetry Idol.' Our assignment was to write a poem about something that began with the same letter as our last name. I won.It was a great day...and has inspired me to get writing on poetry again...