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Old 10-08-2009, 09:52 AM
 
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The 19 year old son of a dear friend of mine just had a poem published in a prestigious (I'm told) literary magazine. We are all very proud, of course, but I was surprised that the editors wanted to make changes to his poem. One of the changes threatened to change the meaning of the phrase, but he stood his ground and they relented. I find this very strange, like someone trying to change an oil painting or musical composition. Is this something that is routine in the poetry world?
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Old 10-20-2009, 06:59 PM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
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I don't know if that's routine. Short stories are often edited a bit.

A prof once told me he regretted choosing one writer's story because she turned out to be such a prima donna in the editing process. Some writers assume what they commit to the page is holy and untouchable. Of course, a short story has more room for errors, thus for correction too.

Poetry is or should be much tighter, more economic writing. So that would make me want to know specifics to comment further, not that I'm suggesting that. Just saying.
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Old 10-20-2009, 08:10 PM
 
Location: Florida (SW)
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Emily Dickinson had this problem when she submitted poetry for publication....and she was seldom published. There was a poem that starts....The grass so little has to do..... The Grass so little has to do by Emily Dickinson in which she ends with a wish to be as common and insignificant as a blade of grass in the hay in the loft. Her last line is....."I wish I were a hay". The editors refused to publish her poem unless she changed it from the singular "a hay" to the collective..."I wish I were the hay". This change significantly altered her meaning and lessened the impact of her striking and evocative poetic image.

So I guess poetry editors have made these kinds of demands in the past too.
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Old 10-21-2009, 07:06 PM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
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Interesting, elston. And Emily Dickinson was a master at her craft. Lucky her work didn't get tossed aside when she passed.
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Old 10-22-2009, 05:36 AM
 
Location: Florida (SW)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjh View Post
Interesting, elston. And Emily Dickinson was a master at her craft. Lucky her work didn't get tossed aside when she passed.
I think the same about the shoe boxes neatly filled with her poems that she stored under her bed.....most never read and weren't even known about until after her death.

She didnt need an editor....she edited them over and over again as she worked and honed them over her lifetime.

It makes me think of a line by Emerson in his poem "The Rhodora". The Rhodora is a wild flowering shrub that often grows and blooms in out of the way and hard to reach places. Of it, Emerson said, "If eyes were made for seeing; Then beauty is its own excuse for being." So too of Miss Dickinson's poems.
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Old 10-22-2009, 05:23 PM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
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Yes, and that's awesome! Makes you wonder if there have been other unknowns whose manuscripts were thrown on the trash heap or used to start the fireplace.
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Old 10-22-2009, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Florida (SW)
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Originally Posted by bjh View Post
Yes, and that's awesome! Makes you wonder if there have been other unknowns whose manuscripts were thrown on the trash heap or used to start the fireplace.
I bet there were....and also masterpiece paintings that were destroyed or lost.....and books of the Bible etc.
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Old 10-22-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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Thanks all, for your input. I'll try to scrounge up the poem I referred to and tell you the exact changes. One I remember was a line that said something along the lines of ..."and I thanked god for..." which the editor changed to ..."and I thanked "god" for...". They added the quotation marks. Huh? What for? How did that "improve" the poem? Seems like it just muddled it for no discernible reason. Sounds to me like a jealous ego influenced the editor.
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Old 10-23-2009, 04:45 AM
 
Location: Florida (SW)
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Default Possibilities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sayulita View Post
Thanks all, for your input. I'll try to scrounge up the poem I referred to and tell you the exact changes. One I remember was a line that said something along the lines of ..."and I thanked god for..." which the editor changed to ..."and I thanked "god" for...". They added the quotation marks. Huh? What for? How did that "improve" the poem? Seems like it just muddled it for no discernible reason. Sounds to me like a jealous ego influenced the editor.
Perhaps the editor wondered if using the word [god]....without capitalization [God] was a mistake....or if it were intentional....it was not standard usage so the quotation marks around it.....would make the point....that this wasnt the standard usage of the diety.

This explaination doesn't take into consideration that the author might have wanted that ambiguity.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:54 AM
 
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editors and publishers see it as "we are paying you for this, we own it, so we can change it if we want" they see it that they know their audience best, and they know the image or message they seek to send with their publication

i had to learn to let go of it, not get riled about it
i keep my own originals always side by side with the published, for reference, for curiosity, for review, to show people when they ask "what did they change" so they can put in their views and opinions
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