Editing poems: John Glenday and Don Paterson

June 8, 2014

Isabel Rogers featured this fascinating interview between two of my favorite contemporary poets, john Glenday and Don Paterson. The two speak about the process of editing a manuscript into a book. In this case, John Glenday’s GRAIN, which is a wonder, and which Don published in his editor role at Picador.

isabelrogers.org

There’s a lot of talk about editing prose: a writer can employ a professional editor for a novel before querying an agent, then it may be edited again by their agent before it lands on a publishing house editor’s desk for another go.

I was recently asked if there is a similar process for poetry. The road between laptop and published page is often shorter and straighter with a poem. You don’t need an agent, to start with. I’ve had poet friends suggest changes as a poem evolved. My work has been published in magazines, the majority with no tweaks at all from the final draft I sent.

Publishing an entire poetry collection is different. Because I haven’t yet reached that stage, I questioned two far more experienced people (ok, a bit older) to illuminate the process:

Don pic

Don Paterson is head honcho of the Picador poetry list, as well as…

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