Poetry With Pip – Editing Poetry

Hello Again,

This week I have been busy editing away for an anthology. My old University’s Creative Writing Society create and publish an anthology every year and I am helping to edit it.

When I edit and comment on poetry I always think about what is best for the poem. Where does the poet want this to go and I try to make sure that my edits will help towards their goal. It can be all too easy when editing poetry to edit into something you like yourself. This is ok when editing your own poetry but when editing someone else’s you don’t want to lose sight of their voice and eventual goal. Their ending may not have been what you would have written but that doesn’t make it wrong, just different. Sometimes though, a poem can seem a little lost and unfocused and this could be that the poet themselves is unsure where the poem is going.

I also have my four rules for editing that a poem must try and follow. Rhythm, is the tempo of the poem constant and even. Form, does the form of the poem reflect the emotions and is it even flowing. Emotion, does the poem capture me, as a reader, emotionally and make me feel something. Obviously, if the poem doesn’t have one of these they why? And does this lack of something make the poem better?

Also, along with all of these it is good to keep track of punctuation and grammar and think about the pauses that the poem provides a reader. Does the space provided for breathing sound right when you are reading out loud. I can never edit a poem without reading it out because things can sound so different when you read aloud. Something that looked right on paper could sound strange or off beat when you read it out.

I find editing very time consuming and I really have to focus on every individual poem. I have to think about every poem in its own right which can be hard, especially if the poem is the complete opposite of poetry I read, write and enjoy.

What are the main things that you look for when editing?

Do you enjoy editing poetry?

I can’t wait to hear your opinions,

Speak soon,

Pip

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Poetry With Pip – Musical Inspiration

Hello Again!

 

This is a slightly unfocused and extensive discussion today! I just can’t seem to stay on one point today, I hope you’ll forgive me!

Every day I follow the same routine: wake up, get dressed, drive to work and once work is done, I drive home again. During this routine I am constantly listening to music. Sometimes the words of songs get stuck in my head and I get thinking why? Why am I stuck on these words? What makes them powerful or emotional? Though, sometimes, it’s not the words, but the music itself that strikes me.

I always say that inspiration can be found anywhere, and why not with music? Some of the most memorable things from a person’s life are connected to sounds and music. I find though, that to understand why I like a song, lyric or small bar of music so much, I have to understand what I think of when I am listening to the piece. Not only what emotion I am thinking of but what memory or scene or action it conjures up.

Not every song I listen too will make me inspired and most of all it wouldn’t be a song I am listening to for the first time. I think to really connect with a song you have to feel emotionally attached to it.

Some of the bands that I have taken inspiration from when writing Poetry are some of my favourites that I have been listening to since high school. Some are songs that I haven’t listened too for years; and it’s these songs that conjure memories that make me want to write about those past experiences.

Avenged Sevenfold, Lana Del Ray, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, and even the sound tracks to films have all helped me create all sorts of poems based upon memories, emotions and visions or dreams. (Clearly, my taste in music is very broad =]) .

Do you ever listen to music to help you write?

Who or what style do you prefer to listen to?

Do you find lyrics help you create or is it mainly the instrumental element?

 

I can’t wait to hear your opinions and suggestions of good bands or songs to listen to!

Speak soon,

 

Pip x

 

 

Poetry With Pip – Review of The Abandoned Settlemets

Hello Again!

Today will be slightly different from anything I have posted before as I will be talking about a collection of poetry called ‘The Abandoned Settlesments’ by James Sheard.

This third collection by James Sheard really captures the scenes he is picturing and small glimpses into the emotional state of the poet when writing.

The voice, in quite a few of the poems in this collection addresses a women who, is clearly, very dear to the poet. Some of these poems speak directly to her, as if he has just stopped writing, written a small text message to her, and then continued with the collection. I think these are beautiful and cleaver little glimpses into the life of the poet and compliment some of the longer poems that are more grounded in the places they are set.

One of my favourite poems in this collection is called ‘Scent’. It is a beautifully short piece that really grasps the scene he is portraying. Quite romantic in the setting at the start, it moves into a more sudden ending with this romantic scene slipping away from the voice of the poem. I feel that ‘Scent’ is one of those pieces that really speaks to me; with the way the poet simply describes the place, not with items but with the movement of people. I think this is a very clever way of telling the story of a place without ever stating what the place is as the body language of these ‘ghosts’ tell the whole story.

The whole collection seems to move in and out of these ‘moments’ very quickly. As if we, as readers, are gliding through a corridor with different doors leading to different lives that can only be opened for very small moments.

Many of the poems seem to link and flow from one to another especially ‘Note For You’ and ‘The Suit’.

Sometimes though, I feel as if I want to linger longer in the scenes described. The shorter poems we are given are beautiful snippets of interesting ideas and places while, the longer pieces are detailed and sometimes to eloquent and cumbersome to fully capture the emotions surrounding the scenes.

I think this is my favourite collections by James Shears (and that’s saying something because the others are fantastic to!). It is very cleaver in the way some of the ideas in the poem are captured and I highly recommend you give this collection a read!

Are there any new collections of poetry you are interested in?

Speak soon,

Pip x

Poetry With Pip – Blue Room Feeling

Hi Again!

 

In my last post I spoke a lot about wanting to capture the essence of something and why I felt this was hard and confusing to capture when you have such a board yet individual concept, such as Christmas or New Year.

This got me thinking about a poem I love called Blue Curtains by Alex Dimitrov (I have mentioned this poem briefly before in my post ‘Poets Who Inspire’).

After you have read this poem, there is a feeling that seems to linger in the air. A feeling as though all of the emotions that are in the room that Dimitrov is in, is suddenly all around you (or I feel like this at least =] ).

It’s a beautiful poem and every time I read it I am left with a different impression but, the same mood. I find that the way he describes various objects in the room so simplistic and uncomplicated in the way they are handled, that I can’t help but visualise myself in the room.

The juxtaposition of the length of the lines (in the last four lines) helps to slow down the pulse of the poem, helping the reader to take in every last word.

There is such a beautiful essence that he has created and encapsulated in this poem that it makes me want to write and create something every time I read it. It is a poem that captures everything that I love about poetry and, hopefully, the feelings you are left with after.

Every time I write something or am editing a poem I always think to Dimitrov’s ‘Blue Curtains’ and how he captured such complex feeling in such a simple poem. I would like to think that one of my poems could produce the same emotional reaction and response as his poem does with me.

I know this isn’t the most amazing description with in depth analysis of this poem but I just love it.

Is there any poem that you feel such a connection with?

Is there a poem that inspires you to write or that you want to emulate in your writing?

I can’t wait to read your poems that you love!

Speak soon,

Pip x

Poetry With Pip – Christmas Block

 

Hello Again!

 

Sorry that it has been so long. Work has been catching up with me!

Over the course of the last two weeks some major events have come onto my social calendar. The first is the three daylong celebration of Christmas and the latter is of course welcoming the New Year (Happy New Year!!).

During times when there is lots of tradition about it seems like it would be easy to come up with concepts for creating your own poems, however, since these two events are so deeply individual, where do you start in capturing the essence of these holidays?

I have thought about this long and hard and have even tried to write a few poems myself on these subjects but, one special decoration that I love will mean nothing to the next person.

How then, should I go about making this one object special to the reader?

My first idea is to make it something new, to describe it in such details that the poem holds the essence of the object inside it. The only down side I see to this, is that this type of poem can quickly become a list and the magic of the object will become lost in the description.

My other option would be to consider the objects feeling and to personify it. By doing this, it is possible to capture the feelings of Christmas and why it is special from a different point of view; one that most people when they think from a decorations point will understand. Yet, again, the problem with this technique is to still make the poem Christmassy as this could be done to any object easily but the place and object itself can become lost in the emotions of the object. Unless you have the object look into the mirror, how will the readers know what is speaking without giving it away in the title? The other issue here is that not many people will think from this point of view and may not find the concept of the poem interesting.

The only other idea that I came up with was to re-discover a love for these objects. To write a poem, about someone looking at a Christmas tree, or a room, or a box, and describe the joy from the objects they see. Though here again, I am stuck because, you don’t want to describe why everything is important (I like short poetry and I know if I rant about something for too long my poetry starts to unravel) you want the feelings to emit from the page without too many words being said.

 

Maybe I am just being picky =]

Does anyone else struggle to write about celebrations??

Which method would you go for if you were to create a piece about this subject??

I can’t wait to hear your opinions!

Speak soon,

Pip x

 

PoetryWithPip – Old Favourites

Hi Again!

Last night I spent about two hours tidying my bookshelf (it was in desperate need of a sort out!), and it finally looks all neat and tidy! Which has, again, got me thinking (seems this is my normal start for now! =] ) ‘I have tones of books’!

I have a two bookshelves and one whole shelf (double layered and stacked on top) is wholly dedicated to poetry!

I have collected poetry books (modern and classics) over the period of six years but, I also have some books from my childhood that I couldn’t get rid of. One of these books is a collection of Spooky Poems by Young Hippo edited by Jennifer Curry (1998) (I’m showing my age now!).

This collection is one of my favourite, not only because I remember reading it when I was young but also because it has some fantastic poems in it that I still love to read now. Which gets me thinking why these poems are so gripping and interesting still, even though I have read them hundreds of times.

The whole collection has a variety of poems, long, short, rhyming, limericks, shaped poems ect. (I could go on!) which makes it an interesting read since it’s not all the same. The only thing the poems have in common is the fact that they are about ‘spooky’ things.

However, I find that some of the poems (now that I’m older) are more factual and interesting of a read than others. One poem, (from Duppy Jamboree, by Valerie Bloom) is a fantastic example of a poem heavily based in a tradition. The poem is from a child’s point of view of a dance that is performed around Christmas where people dress as characters from folk laws.

As a child reading this particular poem it did scare me but, from an adults perspective, it is a very cleverly written poem. The whole piece is written with an accent (Mi get out o’ bed, pull back de curtain)(pg 113, line 8) and help to set the scene and the more the poem goes on the more heavily the accent is presented, showing the child’s emotional state in a very interesting way.

The descriptions of the character holding pitchforks and looking strange with tails and horns really help to present the emotions of the child as well since there isn’t a lot of description in this poem.

The first verse (a chant) also helps to set the tone of the poem and helps to create a really clear image of these dancers in the streets.

In this collection there are other stories that present a different cultures beliefs surrounding celebrations of the dead and mythical creatures which is very inspiring to write as an adult. Though some poems in this collection are ‘childish’ (clear rhyming schemes or ‘shape’ poems), many are still; interesting to read now, and I can enjoy them with my nieces too!

I highly recommend you have a look out for this book in a library and have a flick through some of the poems, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Are there any collections or poems from your childhood that you love now? Let me know and I’ll have a look out for them!

Speak Soon!

Pip X

PoetryWithPip – Editing Picture Books

Hi Again!

My Mum retired recently and I have been trying to encourage her to write something (since she is so bored; Hi Mum!). She is currently writing her second children’s book (based upon her three grandchildren) and this got me thinking about how I go about editing for different audiences.

Writing for children (5, 2 and 0) is quite challenging (trust me, I tried writing poetry for children… it didn’t go so well! =] ) but my Mum has the ‘knack’! She understands what children would find interesting in a story line and creates a plot line really well for the age she is aiming at (the kids ask for the first book every time they come round, *sigh*).

However, editing down these stories takes time since we are not only thinking about the plot line, words they know, words the ‘next level’ up for them to learn, but also about turning the book into a picture book.

Most children’s picture books (for the age we are writing for) don’t have that many words around the pictures. We want the kids (especially the eldest) to be able to read the book if they wanted. If there are too many words on one page she can gets overwhelmed and struggles to read.

For this second book I want to really simplify the language, but also make it enjoyable to read. The key to editing something down to the ‘bare bones’, as what is needed for a picture book, is to make sure the key elements are shown and presented.

To start this editing process, I check how many key ‘images’ or ‘scenes’ there are in the book. Once I’ve found this, I think about what words are going round each picture and how this will look on the page (editing down as I go to make sure things still make grammatical sense and are also concise and simplistic for them to understand and read).

Kids pick up on ‘missing things’ ( i.e. if your character suddenly doesn’t have a hat on in the picture but it not being said in the book) quite quickly and ask questions about these so it’s always best to think about your book from their point of view and fill these in accordingly. Reading other children’s books can really help; just like writing a poem, it always helps to look at different examples to help you really capture your target audience.

Obviously, editing for a picture book is completely different from how I would edit a poem or short story but the basics of editing stay the same (researching your audience, reading similar styles, finding the main plot line/concept and trying to edit down according to the form of the piece and trying to keep the tone and style even throughout).

What’s the most unusual thing you have had to edit and what form do you love it edit the most?

I look forward to hearing from you and if there’s anything you would like me to help edit, don’t hesitate to ask!

Speak soon!

Pip x

 

PoetryWithPip – Inspirational Settings

Hi Again!

I’m feeling slow this week since the weekend was a bank holiday! I spent my whole weekend out in the sun (getting my lobster on!) and eating good health food and drinking the weekend away (suppose the drinking isn’t that healthy, but it was tasty and I had good company to enjoy it in!).

My wonderful weekend in the sun has gotten me thinking about where I set the scene for my poetry; which for me usually has some connection with accrual places I have been and natural rural settings.

The use of natural images like flowers and natural colours in my poetry really helps me to find a ground in my poem (solidifying images into something more realistic and imaginable) and by using places that I have visited, I feel that my poetry seems more realistic and believable, helping to set these images in stone.

Most of my resent poetry has become a study into my everyday life, turning the everyday into something more unusual and sensual (as in the five senses – get out of the gutter!), so going out of my way to try different things, new experiences and look at new places helps me get a grasp of my next idea.

Going back to places that I have visited (after thinking about how I felt about the place), to re-think about how I feel, how the place feels (atmosphere wise) and why, then turning this into a poem is one of the many ways I create poetry set in my reality.

Of course it never hurts to stretch the truth a little (maybe a rendezvous that really never happened, or adding a story to a place, – under the monkey tree – for instance ;] ) and I always think “I’m not interesting, why would someone want to read about my life”, but this is the wrong way to think! With the right amount of tinsel, anything can look like a Christmas tree (haha)!

With the right scene setting, poetry can become something more, it can enhance and make the story you are telling come alive! Using a scene in a poem (even if you never talk about it – you just use it to help you write) can give your poem something solid to build off (it can also help to give your poem more atmosphere).

Drop me a response to this post and tell me where you normally set your poetry (outdoors in natural surroundings or in built up areas or offices)?

I look forward to hearing where you set your scenes and writing about different places myself!

Speak soon!

Pip x

 

 

 

PoetryWithPip – Poets Who Inspire

Hi Again!

As a poet, book lover, and someone who enjoys to read, I have read lots of poems (that’s a slight underestimation), but there is always the few writers and poems that actually stick in my mind and inspire me to write.

I’m sure that everyone who writes has someone specifically who inspires them in style, voice, tone, composition ect, even if we don’t realise it. It’s good to look at other writers to help us expand and to try different styles of writing.

Some styles are so individual that it can be off putting, leading me to think ‘I wish I could write like that’, but everyone has a style and reading and trying new styles can help us find our own.

I have been writing poetry (consistently) for about five years and throughout that time my poetic style has changed dramatically (I can’t even look at my first poems without blushing!).

One of the first poets that really struck a chord with me (which if you know me you have guessed this person by now!) is Sylvia Plath. The dramatic edge to her poetry that stems from her use of imagery and colours completely changed my opinion on what poetry I wanted to write. My style took a dramatic turn from ‘obvious’ imagery to a much darker and mysterious place. I focused on explaining the simplistic in the most unusual and complicated way (which I loved! =] ).

Other writers have inspired me like Lewis Carroll (how he uses a storyline throughout a poem to capture the reader even though half of his words are not words!) and Alex Dimitrov (especially his poem ‘Blue Curtains’, the feeling evoked in this poem makes me want to write more and more, so I highly suggest you read it!).

Reading and critiquing other poets work (friends and people in different societies) is also something I find inspiring. Other people have differing styles and read other poets to me and it is always a good opportunity to talk to other poets face to face to see who inspires them.

Drop me a response to this post and tell me who inspires your creative writing!

I look forward to hearing who you love and reading different poets who inspire you myself!

Speak soon!

Pip x

PoetryWithPip – Creative Processes

Hi!

This will be my first official post (and not an intro!) for PoetryWithPip!

Thinking about what I should write gave me such a headache! I have so many things I want to talk about that I was struggling with what I should actually write for this first post.

The more I thought about it the more I realised, as I’m staring at a blank word document, that when it comes to writing poetry it can be difficult to put pen to paper too (so to speak ;] ).

When I think about my processes for creating Poetry, I find that I need an overflowing idea or image or emotion to help me get started. I use this ‘thing’ as a main image and try to describe as it best as I can in a … ‘poetic’ way (hate that term, please forgive me for using it!).

I also find that reading and editing other people’s poetry really helps inspire me to create. It gets me thinking about how I would write their poem or even writing a response poem (there is a fantastic collection that focuses on response poems called ‘Answering Back’ edited by Carol Ann Duffy, I highly recommend reading it!).

I have tried different creating processes, pulling words out of a hat or using a random generator on a computer ect; but I always find myself waiting for that one moment of inspiration to hit me in the face!

Which has obviously gotten me thinking about other people’s creative writing processes. I know some people write every day, just to start the juices flowing! When I tried this I found I just got more frustrated the first few times, but you do end up getting into a flow. I find that I can’t write every day just for the sake of it and that I need to gather ideas and images together and then set one day in the week that is my ‘creative writing time’; editing after this initial ‘writing time’. I find this very helpful but it really does help to stick to a routine.

Does everyone find trying different routines and creative processes helpful or is it different for everyone who writes poetry? Do us ‘poets’ share this struggle?

Drop me a response to this post and tell me how you start your poems!

I look forward to hearing how you write and trying your processes myself!

Speak soon!

Pip x