LBF: More support needed for children's poetry

LBF: More support needed for children's poetry

Publishers called for more retail and library support for children's poetry as Chris Holifield, director of the Poetry Book Society, warned that children's poetry "faced extinction" during a seminar about children's poetry at the London Book Fair.
 
Kate Paice, commissioning editor at A&C Black, said, "A lot of bookshops seem quite scared of poetry. They don't know how to shelve it or how to sell it and if we can't reach our market through bookshops, then we can't sell to our market."
 
Despite the sector's difficulties, publishers Frances Lincoln and A&C Black are both developing their children's poetry output. Next month, May, Janetta Otter-Barry Books at Frances Lincoln will launch a children's poetry list while A&C Black is to move into publishing poetry for teenagers.
 
Janetta Otter-Barry Books plans to publish two new poetry titles each season, pairing a well-known name with a newcomer. Next month's titles include Roger McGough's An Imaginary Menagerie, which has been out of print for several years, and a debut collection by Rachel Rooney called The Language of Cat.
 
Otter-Barry said, "We have many wonderful children's poets in the UK whose voices are not being heard, other than in anthologies. Surprisingly, this also includes established poets. I want to give children the chance to experience the full range of a poet's work in an individual collection."
 
She added, "Naturally the debut collection we are publishing has a far smaller print run than the Roger McGough book and it is not encouraging." Holifield said it has become "almost impossible" for poets to have a first collection published.
 
A&C Black's new teen collection, Does Your Face Fit, edited by Roger Stevens, includes poetry by teenagers themselves as well as established poets. Paice said, "Teenagers are drawn to poetry and this collection explores the issue of fitting in and emotional literacy. We hope to find a market for it in schools, as well as with teenagers."
 
She added, "New media could be the saviour of children's poetry as it opens new ways to connect readers and writers of poetry."