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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