You have a poem you’ve been working on, and think it might
be ready to submit to a journal—maybe to Spirit Fire Review.
As you revise and polish your poem, here are some housekeeping hints to keep in mind.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a special poetry vacuum cleaner
that removes excess “a”s and “the”s, unnecessary adjectives,
and any other debris cluttering up your poem?
I’m not a purist when it comes to a and the; sometimes they
clarify meaning and help the flow of a poem. Unfortunately,
they can also interfere with flow, and often don’t add much
to the poetic impact. Time for the vacuum.
Adjectives are great, but choose carefully. Just ones that best
express what you want to say; search for the most specific,
and most powerful, ones. If you find yourself using a lot
of adjectives, see if you can get those verbs and nouns off
the couch to do their share of the work. Time to change the
vacuum bag yet?
Take a step back from your poem. Does it look the way
you want it to? You’ve cleared cobwebs, wiped down line
breaks, and straightened adjectives. Now you might
consider rearranging furniture—for example, the order
of stanzas, length of stanzas, the overall shape and feel
of the poem.
Does it invite the reader to come in? What will their first
impression be? Where will they sit? Will they want to stay
for a while? Is your poem ready for company? I don’t know about you, but I need to order more vacuum bags. Pardon my dust.
These tips may be geared more toward poets, but we also welcome submissions
from writers of nonfiction and from artists, including photographers.