A while back, C. Dale Young made some comments about the patterns in submissions to the New England Review (he is the poetry editor). Just now, he made some comments about patterns in book manuscripts (I take it he is working as a reader for a prize):
"Over the past 2 days, I screened 100 first book mss. What did I learn?
1. people seem to love the word "ochre"
2. the simple, present-tense sentence is still the choice of most poets out there
3. Abortion is a fairly common topic for poems (I saw no less than 20)
4. a good story does not always make for a good poem
5. many seem capable putting together a 90+ page ms. without difficulty
6. Rothko is making a comeback
7. most poets are like me in that they come up with god-awful titles for their mss. (I always have to have friends guide me to a better title)
8. a lot of people must visit Italy (I mean A LOT)
9. many poets use spell check but don't check the spell chack changes!
10. God and religion is everywhere in these mss."
I stopped submitting my book manuscript for a year (though I am going to start again in January), so all I can do is take Dale's comments as advice, rather than respond with a list. So I will avoid "ochre" and Italy. :-)
But seriously, the most important of these points is number two: so many poems today are written in the present tense when they would surely work better as the past-tense narratives that they "really" are (but see number 4!).