The first version of your poem is a first draft. It’s exciting to have written it – but how do you make it the best it can be? How can you improve your chances of getting it published and read by others? I’ve pulled together some great advice from poetry professionals.
Simon Armitage – much-published UK leading poet (see previous blog posts on career tips here and videopoem here) has drawn together a testing kit for poetry at the Guardian newspaper: “How to write Poetry, Checklist”
Grace Wells – editor of American and Irish poetry magazines and Literary Festival organiser – has written a very down-to-earth list of 11 editing points at Advice on Editing Poetry
Magma Poetry is a well-known and well-regarded UK poetry magazine, inundated by manuscripts from hopeful poets – but they’ve got their head above tidal waves of submissions long enough to write: “25 rules for editing poems”
Robert Lee Brewer over at Writers Digest has scribed, revised and polished:
Proof positive that when you’re writing a powerful poem, its shape can be something as simple as a twist on an everyday voice/situation, or the banal pauses between events. And yes, it can include humour. And it can be great in a video.
(Video by Faber & Faber to illustrate poem “Thank you for Waiting)
Creative Takeaway Prompt
Do you have a very ordinary, boring situation/conversation/speech which you hear everyday? Take that form and write it so that you make it talk about something else, something you feel passionately about. Increase the strength of your words at the end to the extreme. (As Simon Armitage does, in this video).
Advanced – time how long you think it will take you to read your poem, allowing an extra 5-10 seconds. Have a friend video you on a mobile phone in that banal situation, then do a voiceover of yourself reading the poem. Finally, have the courage to put it on Youtube and publicise it in social media (this could be as simple as your personal Facebook page or Twitter.)
More video work – look at your written poems so far – is there one whose atmosphere could be videoed in a setting which reinforces the message?