How to Edit a Poem – 5 poetry writing tips


Hi everyone, welcome to the Girls on Key YouTube channel. This is our very first video. I’m Anna. We’re talking about poetry here. Specifically women’s poetry, but everybody is welcome. What today’s video is about is how to edit your poem, an editor speaks. So I’m an editor with over 15 years experience. I’m also a poet and so I’m going to give you my top five tips for editing your poem, so let’s crack into it. Hey guys today, we’re talking about how to edit your poem. I’m an editor and also a poet so hopefully some of these tips will really help you to refine your work and get it the way that you want it to look or sound, ready for your audience. So let’s crack into it! Tip number one. The first thing is, know your audience. So this starts right at the very beginning Before you even touch the page you need to know who are you writing for? Are you writing for yourself? Are you writing for a slam audience a big crowd, to be read aloud? Are you writing for kids? Are you writing for adults? Are you writing for your peers? Who are your audience? So maybe at the top of your page you might want to either draw or write and say my audience is this person. What are their interests? What are their likes? What do they do? And every decision that you make when it comes to editing and refining your work will come back to that. Does it fit with my audience? Tip number two. Now that you have your audience you want to have your intention. What do you want that audience to come away with? What are the takeaways? Do you want them to feel something? Do you want them to laugh? Do you want them to cry? Do you want them to know your politics? Or do you just want to express who you are to those people? Whatever it is write that at the top of your page. Also that comes into it is what kind of poem are you going to write to meet that intention? For example if I want to write a funny poem for kids, I’m not really gonna write a formal pantoum or a slam poem necessarily. I might have different design principles depending on what the intention of my poem is and where it’s going to end up. So tip number three that brings me to tip number three, which is have a design principle. Now I’m really into listening to a guy called Pat Patterson from Berkeley University and I went to a songwriting workshop of his where he says, ‘It starts becoming art when it stops becoming arbitrary.’ Now what he means by that is every decision that you make, you are in control of that. You decide. So, you decide from every word, every line, every sound. You get to choose. You are the crafts person of your work. So have a design. Be intentional. And now something I’m going to talk a lot about on this channel is being intentional because as an artist, as a creative person knowing what your end goal is and what your intention is will really help you to focus and help to bring everything that you do to be successful, because success for one person is different to what it is for another person. One person success might be being commercially published by a poetry publisher and having their poetry win awards, for others it might be to just to have a big audience on YouTube and slam their hearts out to their heart’s content and that’s fine. We’re all different here. There are slam poets people that want to be spoken word artists and to look at the craft of how a poem is performed live and recitation and that’s part of it, and there’s also people who want to see the visual on the page. How can I craft it so that I can bring in other meanings and other layers that you don’t get when you have it read aloud. So there are pros and cons for both and we all have our own craft. So stick to your craft but think about the design. So for those of you that are quite new to poetry, one stanza is essentially one idea or one paragraph. So what you want to do when you’re designing, one particular thing that I look for is balance, so looking to see if you’ve got any lines that are sticking way out. Is that purposeful? and why. So think about the meaning of every line, not just the meaning of the words because lines in themselves can have their own meaning and they’re actually vital so you get to decide. You get to choose and you can edit, you can move around as much as you want. No one’s gonna see, so don’t be afraid of pulling it apart, pulling it to bits and putting it back together. Yes, it is hard work. Yes. It takes time you will draft again and again, and that’s fine. Just take your time. There is no rush. If you want to do confessional poetry and you just want to splurge on the page go for it. But sometimes you really want to take that time to refine and to change and to make your work professional so that you are presenting it in the best way possible. And I think anyone who wants to write poetry would want that I’m sure. So that just gives you a starting point now. Number four. Tip number four is to read your work out loud. Find someone that you trust who might be able to give you some feedback. If you don’t want to do that just yet, maybe read it into the camera or record it on your phone and have a listen back and what that will do is it just gives you an idea of some things that you might have missed when you were writing it on the page. And it just gives a different perspective. It’s like pretending that you are the audience for your poem, putting yourself in their shoes. And it’s very powerful, because you get to pick up on what nuances or things that you might have missed when you’re writing it on the page. So read it aloud. Then the final thing, Number Five: have you met your goal? So assess once you’ve written the poem is there anything in there that’s going to go against what you’re trying to achieve, so if you’re trying to make someone feel sad is there something that comes across as funny by mistake or something that comes across as rude or for example, if you were reading to an audience of women is there anything that’s going to be offensive towards women? So just have a think and go back to number one two and three and have a look and see. Have I achieved what I want to achieve by this work? So those are your five tips. I’m just going to recap them for you. So number one was know your audience. Number two was have a clear intention. Number three: Create a design principle Number four: Read your poem aloud and number five assess your goal. Cool, so I hope some of these tips have helped. We’re going to get more into the nitty-gritty of how to actually edit the grammar and the structure of your poem later on in some of the other videos, but just for this one It’s just a starting point and as an editor, I always ask questions. I always say What was your intention with this line because this is what it means to me when I put myself in an audience’s shoes, and I read that line it means XYZ. Did you mean that and if they say well I’m not sure, I say well have an intention. Be intentional. What do you want to say? You as a master of your poem no one else and you have the pen you have the tools and so yeah go for it. And if you want to comment with some of the work that you’ve done taking into account these tips. If you want to try them and let me know how you go Please comment below and don’t forget to subscribe if you like this video We’re going to do an Editor Speaks every Friday so watch out for that and please make suggestions about any videos that you’d like to hear relating to poetry whether it’s craft, or we’re going to get poet spotlights We’re going to spotlight women poets around the world and we’re also going to have more great content around poetry for you. So thank you so much for tuning in and hopefully we’ll see you again soon. Bye.

6 thoughts on “How to Edit a Poem – 5 poetry writing tips

  1. Hello Anna, thank you for making this video. It was very informative. Can you please do a lesson on metaphors.

  2. Great editing tips. I think the shaky video was pretty distracting but it was worth it to get some very useful tips.

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