Anthologise: Points for Students to Consider
Before you start….
1. Getting a group together to compile a poetry anthology
The competition allows for any size of group from a couple of friends working together to a whole class or even school anthology. Large groups will need careful organisation by teachers. Individual students are eligible but will need to be supported by a teacher.
A useful way of working is to form what we’ll call a reading group of students interested in compiling a poetry anthology. You should begin by reading the competition rules and regulations carefully to make sure that everyone understands what is required. The next thing is to have a really good brainstorm (see ideas below) where you make the important decisions about what kind of anthology you want to produce. You also need to work out a schedule of meetings (perhaps once a week?) working back from the deadline date so that you have time to do all that is necessary without being too rushed.
2. First of all, you need to decide what kind of an anthology you want to compile as this will influence and guide your choice of poems. It might be:
3. Next, you need to decide on the age group of your audience as again this will influence your choice of poems.
4. Finding the poems
If you take the competition seriously, you are going to spend a lot of time in libraries in the next few months as they will be your key resource for finding poems.
5. Reading anthologies
Reading excellent anthologies that knowledgeable editors have compiled can give you inspiration. When you examine an anthology, consider what you think were the key factors influencing the choice of poetry before you read the editor’s introduction, if there is one. Here are a few that we recommend:
Charles Causley The Sun Dancing (you might think a book of religious verse for children would be rather dull and worthy, but this isn’t. See also his wonderful anthologies of magic and the sea for Puffin.)
Wendy Cope has compiled some anthologies as lively as her own collections. See for example Is That the New Moon? [1989, poems by women] Funny side 101 humorous poems (Faber) and for children The Orchard Book of Funny Poems .
Carol Ann Duffy - as well as being a brilliant poet, our Laureate is also an outstanding anthologist – volumes include I Wouldn’t Thank You for a Valentine [1992, love], Overheard on a Saltmarsh [2004, poets’ favourite poems] and Stopping for Death [1996, death].
Seamus Heaney & Ted Hughes (eds) The Rattle Bag (a great favourite in schools, is an exciting international volume, full of surprises). See also Heaney & Hughes’ (eds) The School Bag.
Geoffrey Summerfield compiled Voices and Junior Voices back in the 1970s but they still look innovative today.
Other good anthologies worth dipping into include
Emergency Kit, ed. Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Bloodaxe)
Staying Alive, Being Alive, Being Human ed. Neil Astley (Bloodaxe)
From the Republic of Conscience – an anthology for Amnesty International. The title poem is, of course, that of Seamus Heaney’s poem in his collection, The Haw Lantern.
Women's Work edited by Eva Salzman and Amy Wack (Seren)
Red: Contemporary Black British Poetry, edited by Kwame Dawes (Peepal Tree Press)
Here to Eternity: An Anthology of Poetry, edited by Andrew Motion (Faber)
Poems on the Underground edited by Gerard Benson, Judith Chernaik, Cicely Herbert (Phoenix)
The Ring of Words edited by Roger McGough (Faber)
101 Sonnets edited by Don Paterson (Faber DATE)
Michael Rosen's A-Z: The best children's poetry from Agard to Zephaniah (Puffin 2009)
Dancing in The Street edited by Adrian Mitchell (Anthology for teenagers, Orchard 1999)
New Caribbean Poetry edited by Kei Miller (Carcanet Press 2007)
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland Since 1945, edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford (Penguin 1998)
The New Poetry, edited by Michael Hulse, Davis Kennnedy & David Morley (Bloodaxe1993)
The Firebox, edited by Sean O’Brien (Picador 1998)
Sixty Women Poets, edited by Linda France (Bloodaxe 1993)
It Takes One to Know One, edited by Gervase Phinn (Penguin 2001)
Did you know...
• during both world wars, it was common for soldiers to carry a poetry anthology in their pockets
• the majority of people turn to poetry when planning a wedding or a funeral
• lines of poetry and sometimes whole poems are often the last things that remain in the memory
Talk to each other about what makes a good anthology (and a bad one!) after your research.
6. Good anthologising practice
7. Coverage i.e. factors to think about in helping you decide which poems to select and which to reject for your anthology
8. Deciding how to order the poems is very important.
It can be:
Technical tips and information
If you have encountered poetic terms you do not understand, try googling them or go to The Poetry Archive site, they have a useful glossary of poetic terms using poems as examples.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of editing an anthology is sorting out the permissions. Every potential poem you wish to include in your anthology is either out of copyright (the poet has been dead for 70 years or more) or in copyright (you have to pay to reproduce the poem). Although only the winning anthology will actually have to pay real fees, every entry must go through the process of estimating the permission costs of the anthology and, indeed, keep it within the £2,000 budget (see below). You should always have a few out of copyright poems in reserve, just in case your permissions exceed your budget.
If poems are out of copyright, you can reproduce them without getting permission and without paying a fee. If they are in copyright, permission will be needed to reproduce them, and this will usually mean paying a fee to the author or the organisation acting on their behalf.
The winning anthology will have a budget of £2,000 towards permissions. In the happy event that you are the winner, Picador, the publisher, will arrange your permissions for you, but will expect to see your costing.
Permissions and how to budget for them
What are copyright permissions?
The poems you will be choosing for your anthology will be either out of copyright or in copyright. If they are out of copyright, you can reproduce them without needing permission and so without paying a fee. If they are in copyright, permission will be needed to reproduce them, and this will usually mean paying a fee to the author or the organisation acting on their behalf.
How do we know whether they are out of copyright or in copyright?
In the United Kingdom, copyright ends seventy years after the year in which the author died (for works with two or more authors, it’s the last author to die that counts). The winning anthology will be published in 2013, so any poem whose author died before 1943 is out of copyright here. Any other poem or translation, whether previously published or not, is in copyright and permission will be needed to reproduce it.
How many poems should we choose?
The anthology will be a B-format paperback of 64pp. B-format is 197mm high and 130mm wide, the standard size for Picador paperbacks. You should allow ten pages for the front matter (the title page, foreword by Carol Ann Duffy, contents etc.) and two pages at the end for the permissions, leaving fifty-two pages for poems, at about thirty lines per page. Put together this means you should choose about forty-five to fifty poems – you don’t have to fill every page.
How much will it cost?
Poems that are out of copyright can be reproduced without charge.
For this anthology, the fees for poems that are in copyright are likely to be from £50 to £125 each, but typically £75–80. Long poems usually cost more than short ones, and familiar ones more than less well-known ones, but the most important factor is the importance of the poet: a poet of world renown might cost two or three times the typical rate. Occasionally the print and eBook rights will be held by different organisations and you may have pay two fees. Picador will pay the fees on your behalf.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say precisely how much you much you will be charged. The Publishers’ Association guide at http://www.publishers.org.uk/images/stories/AboutPA/PA_Permissions_Guidelines.pdf says fees are “entirely a commercial decision for the publisher involved – for competition reasons, apart from anything else, trade associations like the PA cannot have recommended rates”, and the Copyright Licensing Agency’s guide at http://www.cla.co.uk/copyright_information/copyright_information/#Obtaining_permission_to_use_copyright_material says “There are no industry-fixed fees (they are at the discretion of the party granting the permission)”; it’s possible that the special nature of this anthology means that fees will be greatly reduced.
Check your spelling and that the poems in your anthology are faithful to the original in terms of spelling, punctuation, spacing, line length and position on the page. Never centre a poem on the page or change the shape of a poem; where poems begin and end is very important. Make sure at least 2 or 3 pairs of eyes have proofed the whole anthology. There will always be typos and mistakes you have missed.
Terms and conditions and Entry form
Go forth and anthologise!
Best of luck. We hope you enjoy the process, encounter wonderful poetry and feel pleased with the finished product. The judges look forward to reading your anthology.