I spent a couple of very worthwhile hours with a poetry editor for a literary mag on Friday giving me an intense “poetry 101” experience. Here are the main points I took away:
• Identify prosaic bits of verse and work on them.
• Aim for fewer words. Check each word and phrase to make sure it is making an essential contribution.
• Preachy and pedantic is not poetry.
• Greatly curtail the use of ‘the’ and ‘of’
• Use active voice.
• Use particularity. Show, don’t tell.
• Put line breaks only where meaningful. Follow the natural rhythm of language: iambic pentameter, unless you deliberately don’t use it for effect.
• Starting lines with a capital letter is a generally disused convention.
• Poetry editors receive a huge number of submissions and among them quite a lot of poems about writing a poem.
I have decided to, even more than before, regard the poems already posted on this blog as works in progress and continue to rework them. I have done this to a few already. It also means that I will probably not be posting 3 times a week as I was before. Maybe once or twice.