Friday, February 25, 2022

Learning About Poetry Anthologies

You may have seen posts about workshops that Janet (Wong) and I launched last year. After 10 years of collaborating on poetry anthologies, we decided it was an ideal time to share some of what we've learned about creating anthologies with the poetry community and with aspiring poets and anthologists, in particular. So, here's a little "back and forth" from us on what we're doing

Why We’re Teaching the Anthologies Workshops

by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching a graduate course in poetry for children at Texas Woman’s University for over 20 years now. Our focus is reading, reading, and reading the contemporary poetry that has been published for young people in the last 20 years. We consider some evaluation and analysis criteria and discuss ways to share poetry with young people, along with our own responses to a genre that has often been neglected in their many years of teaching and reading. It’s so fun to see these librarians and teachers find the JOY in poetry for young people today—the topical poetry collections, the innovative poem picture books, the amazing novels in verse, and more. Along with teaching, I’ve been able to make poetry presentations at countless conferences including 18 years of the “Poetry Round Up” of poets reading their work aloud at the Texas Library Association annual conference. I’ve created educator guides for many wonderful works of poetry to help provide curriculum connections for teachers and learners. All of it has shown me that people are hungry to learn more about today’s poetry for young readers.

Janet shares: My UCLA Extension poetry teacher Myra Cohn Livingston sold my first book, Good Luck Gold, for me. Her longtime editor Margaret K. McElderry was in Los Angeles to give the Arbuthnot lecture; after dinner, Myra showed her my manuscript, and Margaret told her that she wanted to buy it. That was 30 years ago. Ever since then, I have tried to honor Myra’s generosity by helping to shine a light on my fellow poets.
The Anthologies 101, 201, 301—and soon 401—workshops came about because of all that.

We’ve spent so much time talking about poetry with each other, we thought it was time to share some of those experiences with aspiring poets and poetry lovers. With the ease of Zoom, it seemed like the perfect time to gather people in online workshops to explore the potential of poetry for young people.

Janet: There are so many immensely talented poets writing for children and teens who aren’t being given a chance to share their work.
The thinking behind the Anthologies 101 workshop is this: let’s share our experiences and give poets the info they need to get published, either with traditional publishers or by becoming “indie publishers” who showcase the work of other poets and themselves. 

In our first workshop, Anthologies 101, we provide an overview of the types of poetry that are being published for young readers with examples of each form or type, we talk about hot topics that deserve consideration for future poetry collections, suggest ways to build knowledge and outreach, consider factors in creating quality anthologies and collections along with the nuts and bolts of indie publishing. It’s a lot to cover in one two-hour session, but it’s a good start for anyone new to the field. 

Janet: Right. And for poets who want to explore the indie publishing option more deeply—and also poets who want to have a community of support while they continue working on craft—we have Anthologies 201.

In Anthologies 201 we take it even further and work to create a small poetry anthology collaboratively. We actually produce and market a book for sale with 100% of the profits donated to IBBY for the Children in Crisis Fund. This fund supports literacy programs in some of the most challenging circumstances in El Salvador, Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond. In Anthologies 201, participants watch instructional videos that we create for them on curation decisions, the selection process, and layout and submission for publication. They submit poems for this poetry collection and get mentor feedback from Janet that is so kind and constructive! Then, we meet virtually to review that whole book-making process, consider our final manuscript, prepare for marketing and distribution, answer questions, and celebrate our collective accomplishment in creating a book from beginning to end!

Janet: A book for a charity is one of the best projects to start with, especially if you want to involve students. If you have experience with children (as a visiting author, an educator, or a parent), you might even want to approach a local school and see if they have a budget for a “Publishing Club” project. If so, you could gain experience with putting together an anthology and publishing it, while also having your expenses covered. An extra bonus: the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping kids experience a real-world writing project that benefits a good cause and has a built-in audience (families at the school and people who support that same cause). Some of the Publishing Club kids can work on marketing the book, designing promotional flyers, writing press releases for the local news, and so on.

Yes: after you publish a book, you need to promote it, to help people discover it. That’s why we created the Anthologies 301 courses.

Janet: Anthologies 301 is made up of three one-hour sessions on Graphics, Videos, and Swag. Poets can take one, two, or all three parts. Having graphics skills is so helpful when it comes to spreading the word about a book—or about yourself as a poet! And you, Sylvia, are a master of creating graphics, videos, and swag.

Thanks, Janet, you know how I love making things that celebrate poetry! Hey, you dropped a hint in the opening of this post about Anthologies 401. Do you want to tell us about it?

Janet: We’ve been loving these workshops. It’s so satisfying to feel that we’re helping many poets get established—so we thought we’d come up with an additional new course for alumni of Anthologies 101, 201, and 301. It will be very similar to Anthologies 201, but we’ll share even more publishing and writing tips. We’ll produce a book in this course like we did for Anthologies 201, but this time it will be a book for older children. Our Anthologies 401 course will start as self-study videos with a writing period this July, and will culminate in August with a two-hour Zoom and publication of our collaborative book.

Here’s the schedule; learn more about it and find updates at Please join us!

Antho 101 * All About Anthologies

A single-session Zoom from noon to 2pm Eastern

Offered on three separate dates (register for one):

Saturday, May 7

Saturday, August 6  

Saturday, November 5

* If you want to register for Antho 201, 301, or 401, you must have taken Antho 101 first

Antho 201: Collaborate to Create an Anthology (for ages 0-8)

A four-part course on publishing an anthology (book title: THINGS WE FEEL)

part 1: self-study videos (at your own pace, starting on May 7)

part 2: self-paced writing and feedback: May 7 - June 7

part 3: experience in evaluating and choosing poems: June 15 - July 11

part 4: Zoom from noon to 2pm Eastern: Saturday, July 16

Antho 301 Creating Poetry Graphics, Videos & Swag

Single-session Zoom sessions from noon to 1pm Eastern

Offered on three separate dates (register for one, two, or all three):

Graphics: Saturday, July 23

Videos: Saturday, Aug 20

Swag: Saturday, Sept 24

Antho 401: Collaborate to Create an Anthology (for ages 8 and up)

A four-part course on publishing an anthology (Antho 401 book will be targeted to ages 8 and up, with title TBD)

Part 1: self-study videos (at your own pace, starting July 15)

Part 2: self-paced writing and feedback: July 15 – August 15

Part 3: Experience in evaluating and choosing poems: Aug. 19 – Sept. 15

Part 3: Zoom from noon to 2pm Eastern: Sat., Sept. 17

* If you want to register for  401, you must have taken Antho 101 and Antho 201 first

What else is happening this Poetry Friday? Check out all the poetry goodness over at The Miss Rumphius Effect where Tricia is gathering all our blog posts. See you there! 

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Black Poetry Matters 2022

Once again, I'm so happy to see how many of the poetry books set to be published this year are by Black poets and authors. Some of the most compelling and award-winning writers of poetry and novels in verse for young people are by Black writers. I'm always so moved to see how many works of poetry are recognized by Coretta Scott King honors, for example. Black writers are bringing their own music, culture, and voices to creating powerful poetry for young readers. Here are some of the poetry books and novels in verse to look for authored by Black writers. (Currently available covers)

According to my notes, here are the forthcoming books of poetry and novels in verse by Black writers. Please notify me (in the comments), if you know of others. 

Poetry and Novels in Verse by Black Writers 2022
  1. Acevedo, Elizabeth. 2022. Inheritance. Ill. by Andrea Pippins. Harpercollins/ Quill Tree.
  2. Alexander, Kwame. 2022. The Door of No Return. Little, Brown. 
  3. Brown, Tameka Fryer. 2022. Shirley Chisholm: Not Done Yet. Ill. by Nina Crews. Lerner/ Millbrook. 
  4. Chapman, Ty. 2022. Sarah Rising. Ill. by DeAnn Wiley. Beaming Books. 
  5. Comrie, Courtne. 2022. Rain Rising. HarperCollins.
  6. Dawkins, Matthew. 2022. Until We Break. Wattpad. 
  7. Duncan, Alice Faye. 2022. Yellow Dog Blues. Ill. by Chris Raschka. Eerdmans. 
  8. Elliot, Zetta & Miller-Lachmann, Lyn. 2022. Moonwalking. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
  9. Honoré, Leslé. 2022. Brown Girl, Brown Girl. Ill. by Cozbi A. Cabrera. Little, Brown. 
  10. Latham, Irene & Waters, Charles. 2022. African Town. Putnam.
  11. Latham, Irene & Waters, Charles. 2022. Be a Bridge. Ill. by Nabila Adani. Lerner/ Carolrhoda.
  12. Lockington, Mariama J. 2022. Forever is Now. FSG.
  13. Martin, Erica. 2022. And We Rise. Philomel. 
  14. Martin, Erica. 2022. Whites Only: The Civil Rights Movement in Poems. Philomel. 
  15. Nelson, Marilyn. 2022. Augusta Savage: The Shape of a Sculptor's Life. Little, Brown/Ottaviano.
  16. Pinkney, Andrea. 2022. Bright Brown Baby. Ill. by Brian Pinkney. Orchard. 
  17. Reynolds, Jason and Griffin, Jason. 2022. Ain't Burned All the Bright. Atheneum.
  18. Rodaah, Rahma. 2022. Dear Black Child. Ill. by Lydia Mba. HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray.
  19. Rodash, Rahma. 2022. Dear Muslim Child. HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray. 
  20. Rolle, Sojourner Kincaid. 2022. Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem. Ill. by Alex Bostic. Union Square Kids.
  21. Rowe, Kelis. 2022. Finding Jupiter. Crown. 
  22. Smith Jr., Charles R. 2022. What Makes Us Strong. Ill. by Evans, Shane W. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. 
  23. Watson, Renee. 2022. Maya’s Song. Ill. by Bryon Collier. HarperCollins.
  24. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2022. Call Me Miss Hamilton: One Woman’s Case for Equality and Respect. Ill by Jeffrey Boston Weatherford. Millbrook Press. 
  25. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2022. The Faith of Elijah Cummings: The North Star of Equal Justice. Random House.
  26. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2022. Standing in the Need of Prayer. Ill. by Frank Morrison.Crown/Random House.
  27. Woodfolk, Ashley. 2022. Nothing Burns as Bright as You. HMH/ Versify. 
  28. Woodson, Jacqueline. 2022. The Year We Learned to Fly. Ill. by Rafael Lòpez. Penguin/Paulsen.
  29. Zoboi, Ibi. 2022. Star Child: A Constellation of Octavia E. Butler. Dutton.
Look for more Poetry Friday goodness over at Unexpected Intersections where Elisabeth is hosting our happenings!