Wednesday, September 1, 2010


What to say about Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference?

It's tough because I still feel overwhelmed by everthing I learned. And the people were great! Session leaders Joan and Ellen, all the fabulous poets from all corners of the country... and the editors. Awesome!!

I was amazed at the way Tupelo Press editor Jeffery Levine was able to see my heart in my poetry -- he randomly chose three poems out of my manuscript to read aloud, and after he'd read all three, he said they all ended with a "missing other."

Heck, I didn't even know that!

He also commented on the sense of humor he found in my work, and see, I've never really characterized it as such. His comments made me really want to develop that quality in my writing. He also said I was good with sexy and that only one in five hundred manuscripts he gets are sexy. Maybe this is a niche I can fill? Of course, I'd have to keep it separate from my novels-for-midgrade website....

Other things I learned:

I spend too much time on set-up and need to cut many first stanzas of poems.

I have a tendency to want to be a guru of sorts, to wrap up my poems with some sage words. Those are lines I need to cut.

I use great metaphors but don't stay in them long enough. I need to stick with them long enough to "explode the moment."

My prose gets in the way sometimes. I need to get rid of time markers and transitions.

It's better to submit a short manuscript than to pad a short manuscript with mediocre poems. Only put forth your very best work.

I write great titles. Just need the poems to live up to them. :)


  1. What the heck are you talking about in this blog??? poetry ... is that like a vegetable, or maybe like a new punishment your parents think up. hehhehehee snort

  2. Thanks so much for the info! I tend to be a guru, too! But I'm really more preachy and definitely too wordy! It's so hard to cut words when you love them! LOL

  3. Irene, what a thoughtful and useful post. I will join you in the club of cutting off our beginnings and endings. But I think once in a while we're allowed to let a hint of wisdom creep or leak out at the end, yes? With restraint?

    I also like the concept of the exploding moment. I've heard of the expanded one, but this is cooler. Have a great weekend, hopefully not chopping off too many great lines (I'm in major revision mode these weeks, so cutting is a theme...)

  4. Thanks, Irene! I love the idea of the exploded moment, living in the metaphor until something dangerous and/or unexpected reveals itself.
    Stay dangerous!

  5. Great post, Irene. It's so interesting to me how others see things in your work that you don't. I'm not a poet, but I truly loved my poetry writing classes once upon a time, and what you learned seems helpful for all types of writing. Thanks for sharing!


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