Poet and anthologist John Foster writes about the difficulties involved in getting children’s poetry published and offers some practical advice.
Today’s children’s poetry roundabout started spinning in the 1960s, when it was given a push-start by Spike Milligan, gathered momentum in the 1970s and 1980s with helping hands from the likes of Roger McGough, Allan Ahlberg and Michael Rosen, and increased in speed during the 1990s. You would think, therefore, that it might be easier for a newcomer to break in and to get their poems published these days than it was when I started anthologising and writing poetry some 30 years ago. However, the roundabout has slowed somewhat in the past decade and for the aspiring children’s poet it can be as hard to get your poems published.
Get inspired by children
If you are undaunted by what I have said so far and still determined that you are going to write children’s poetry and get it published, what tips can I offer?
Successful children’s poets will tell you that many of their poems have been triggered by an anthologist’s request for a poem on a particular theme. What then is the secret of getting a poem into an anthology?
John Foster’s latest collections of his own poems include The Poetry Chest (Oxford University Press) and The Land of the Flibbertigibbets (Salt). ‘Size-Wise’ is from Making Waves (Oxford University Press) ©John Foster; ‘The Ghost of the Magician’ ©John Foster. His latest anthology, The Works 8, is published by Macmillan Children’s Books.
See the yearbook for helpful poetry organizations.