I'm sure you all are wanna-be poets so here's what they said:
The bold face is what I need to do, or what I'm highly encouraged to do, so I'll start with reading poetry. Does anyone have any ideas?
The poetic word has the power to make us laugh, cry, expose our failings, and give us the tools to fix them. As literary agents, it is our job and pleasure to bring our clients’ vision and world to fruition through publication.
So you want to be a published poet!
Before you answer that question, allow us to ask you a couple or three of the same:
• Do you read poetry on a regular basis (and we don’t mean your own!)?
• Do you ever study the mechanics of poetry? (We don’t care whether you’re perfectly conversant with all of the technical terms, but would you at least recognize and understand words like “verse,” “stanza,” “meter,” “metaphor,” “simile,” “alliteration,” “end-,” “slant-” and “perfect-rhyme?” The difference between a poem and a ditty?)
• Do you know what kind of verse you want to write? (“formal,” “free,” “blank,” “prose poetry”)?
• Do you understand that good poetry is only in part a function of inspiration? That it’s much more about craft – about practicing, making mistakes, recognizing why something is a mistake and not making the same mistake over and over again?
• Can you take criticism of your poetry, direction, failure, and repeated rejection? Can you work for long periods in silence and isolation – and with little more reward than your own sense of satisfaction?
• Do you love dictionaries and hate clichés – and both with a passion?
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At the Poets Literary Agency, we take pride in finding and developing fresh, new literary talent specifically in the poetry genre. We believe that just because you are a new writer doesn’t mean that your work should be excluded from the marketplace, and we work hard to give you a chance at publication.
We do not charge reading fees or any other type of fee. We get paid when you get paid.
We and our sister agencies have successfully negotiated contracts for a number of titles to date . In addition, as of this quarter, corporate-wide, we have at least 68 “open” discussions with publishers about certain manuscripts, 3 contract negotiations underway for books, and 3 options in various stages for movies. We feel very positive that we will meet or exceed our goals this year.
While attending a dinner party one evening, Poet Laureate Robert Frost and his fellow guests were invited onto a veranda to watch the sun set. "Oh, Mr. Frost," a young woman exclaimed, "isn't it a lovely sunset?" "Sorry," Frost replied. "I never discuss business after dinner."
We don’t mean to overwhelm you from the outset with tough questions. But poetry – like most good things in life – requires a certain dedication, a knowledge-base, a willingness to study and learn from the masters. Those Mother Goose rhymes you may have read as a child? They may have looked easy. They weren’t. In fact, the easiest-looking and most memorable lines in poetry are usually the toughest to find.
Good poetry comes about – and is sustained – because someone took time with it. An English poet by the name of Phillip Larkin spent five years on a single poem. He published only 117 poems in his entire life. We can’t all be – nor should we want to be – Phillip Larkin. But it’s unlikely that any great poet ever scribbled off a memorable poem in a single afternoon. The brain just doesn’t work that way.
If you answered ‘yes’ to all (or at least most) of the questions above, and if you can reconcile yourself to writing many drafts of a piece before you’re ready to submit it for publication, you may have a shot. If you have little patience, there are lots of opportunities for publication – but there are just as many dead ends. Not only do you have to consider everything we’ve asked above, you also then have to be willing and able to research the kinds of markets, contests, publications and outlets that may or may not have an interest in your kind of poetry.
In short, the work is never-ending. That said, there aren’t many things in life as rewarding as creating, publishing, and then leaving behind a piece (or body) of work that will continue to live and breathe long after you’re gone. Leave behind a shoddy bit of work, however, and it’ll remain in a shoebox until the house burns down – too embarrassing to be read by your children or by your children’s children, but kept nonetheless because it was “grandma’s work.”
So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what can we offer – assuming you’re still interested?