In last week’s blog, we spoke a bit about getting your poetry in tip-top shape before submitting it to a poetry contest. One thing on that to-do list was editing your poetry. Editing poetry takes time and practice, but it can make all the difference when it comes to creating a piece that you are truly proud of. So you’ve got the draft written- are you still unsure of where to begin with edits? Read on for our how-to guide on editing poetry!
The first draft of a poem should be looked at like an unfinished sculpture. You’ve taken the block of marble of your idea and crafted a more specific shape out of it, but it could still use some polishing to take off any rough edges that are left. To get that perfect, polished product, you will first need to read your poem. Now, this may sound self-evident, but when we say read your poem, we mean really read it. Read it to yourself, read it out loud, read it in front of the mirror, in front of your friends. Read it as many times as you need to in order to really hear the rhythm and tone you have created. If what you are hearing does not match with what you intended, then further editing is going to have to happen.
Editing poetry is all about compressing your words. Often, you’ll notice you are describing the same thing in multiple ways, or expressing the same idea over and over. Choose the most beautiful, well-developed phrases in your poem and get rid of any superfluous language that only serves to reinforce an idea or image. Cutting off this excess will allow your most impressive images to stand out more.
Like editing any piece of writing, editing poetry also comes down to the technical details. Take a close look at your spelling, punctuation, and grammar; “poetic license” does not mean that you can completely ignore these rules, not unless you are doing to with a specific purpose in mind! Make sure any subversions of basic English language rules are done deliberately, otherwise your poem will seem sloppy to the reader.
If you have not already given your poem a title, give it a title! A title is as much a part of the poem as the text itself is, and the right title can help give the reader a more “full” experience of your poem.
Practice editing poetry until you are left with a piece you feel is perfectly polished. If you like what you end up with, submit it to our poetry contest and share your work with the world!