Great to get back from camping in Whitby yesterday to find ARTEMIS poetry magazine has arrived. I had a poem accepted in the magazine a short while ago and I admit to not being over-familiar with this publication. So, now I’m exploring it! It’s a really varied magazine, with reviews, essays, articles, poems and artwork, all by women. It’s great to see Shelly Roche-Jacques’ collection, Risk the Pier, getting a good review. I heard her read from it last year and loved the way she takes on the voice of the characters (she’s an excellent performer of her work). And I’ve enjoyed Gillian Allnutt’s poem with accompanying notes, especially the following:
‘When I decided, tonight, to send the poem to ARTEMISpoetry, I was able to finish it – by taking out three lines I’d had trouble with; ruthlessly and without any doubt.’ (Gillian Allnutt, ARTEMISpoetry, issue 20, May 18)
Earlier this evening, I was trying to get a couple of poems ready for our local Penistone Poets workshop tomorrow night. It’s an informal gathering over tea and cake to critique each others’ work, but although it’s informal, I really didn’t feel I had any poems that were good enough. Also, having been away has left me short on time. Still, something about the pressure of having to get the work ready (I’m back at the day job tomorrow) has made me ruthless and I’ve taken a few lines out, particularly one last line that hopefully allows the poem to now have a new and more subtle ending. We’ll see what the group says tomorrow, but reading Allnutt’s comment gave me heart. Sometimes it’s not about the words you put down on the page but the ones you remove. In a previous post I talked about the perils of over-editing. It’s a fine line, I think, between pruning a poem and hacking it to death. The sort of editing Allnutt’s talking about is swift and decisive. It needs to be done quickly, so setting a time limit is good. And workshops are helpful, as long as the time limit is adhered to. There’s no point spending ages pulling a poem apart, just make one or two suggestions that might strengthen it and move on. That’s what we’ll be doing tomorrow and I can’t wait to hear the poems.