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This Week's Editorial: 5/3/21

Here's a checklist for you. It's an edited version of an article on a site called Writer's Relief and it details what you need to do in order to write a decent poem. Get six out of six and we will definitely accept your work.

"1. Your poem grapples with an idea that is difficult, intriguing, exciting, disturbing, meaningful, compelling or unusual—you get the drift. That doesn't necessarily mean that you are writing about global war, or politics, or grand sociological theories. Even the smallest moments can convey some sort of truth.

2. You're using the best form to convey your ideas. Poets have lots of options available to them. They can rhyme or not rhyme. They can follow a repeating rhythm. They can double space or not double space. They can choose a visual representation, or they can play it straight. The key is making the best choice to suit your verse.

3. You're making perfect word choices. A good poem demonstrates excellent command of diction and syntax. Half measures won't do. Imprecision won't do. As a poet, you've worked hard to make the perfect choice for every single word of your poem.

4. You're using powerful images. A good poem is a symptom of the author's effort to make sense of the world. And, often, ideas that can't be expressed in prose can sometimes be expressed through strong images. A good poem often uses clear, memorable, concrete images to make a point.

5. You've cut out everything inessential. Is every single word, comma and punctuation mark absolutely necessary to your poem – and not one single space wasted? Then you know you might be onto something.

6. You are giving away neither too little nor too much. Sometimes the most beautiful poems have an elusive quality to them – they evoke ideas and emotions that can't precisely be pinned down. A good poem is not going to spell out the author's thesis in black and white. But it's not necessarily going to purposefully obscure it either."

Pretty much unimproveable, I'd say. It mightn't be a bad idea to refer to it if you want to send us a poem, and it's definitely worth remembering when you read the work of Julia Copus, Michael Schmidt, Will Eaves, Ruth Taaffe, Jamie O'Halloran, George Rawlins, Tim Cumming, Katerina Neocleous, J.D. Murphy, Mary Ford Neal, Gale Acuff, Claire Hughes, Jenny Hockey, Mark Bolsover, Claire Louise Hunt and Paul Attwell. We also have Lilian Pizzichini's contribution to "Since Feeling is First", the paintings of Vladimir Karnachev, an essay by Bruce Bromley, our Track of the Week and the usual etymology and Buddhist wisdom by Brandon Robshaw and Noah Rasheta. It's amazing how much talent you can find when you look. I hope you enjoy our new issue.


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