5 Easy Poetry Editing Tips

Besides being really freaking tiring, editing your manuscript alone isn't always the best idea. When you read your own work, your brain is already aware of what you wrote, so it will make up for mistakes by fixing errors in your head. That's why editors are important. But before you send your manuscript off to 10 poetry editors, you may want to scan for these common errors we see in poetry manuscripts.

Have a question about a line in your poem? Connect with us for thoughts

Check for lie vs. lay errors

This is probably the most common error we see in manuscripts. Why? Because it's freaking confusing. Even we get confused sometimes. That's why we have a handy cheatsheet printed out in front of us at all times. But we don't expect you to do that, so here are some quick tips for getting lie and lay right the first time. 

Lay means to put something down, and it always includes a direct object. Someone or something has to do the laying. 

Chickens lay eggs.
Yesterday, the poetry editor laid her keys down.
The poetry editor lay the book on the table.


Lie means to rest or recline, and it does not need a direct object.

The poetry editor lies on the floor.
The apple lies on the floor.

Lay can also be the past tense of lie.

Yesterday, the poetry editor lay on the floor.
Yesterday, the apple lay on the floor.

Do not put a comma after a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) when it starts a sentence

A comma is not needed after a coordinating conjunction when it starts a sentence. You should only place a comma before a coordinating conjunction when it joins two independent clauses.

Incorrect: So, we will go to the mall.

Correct: Mary and I need clothes, so we will go to the mall.


Remember to capitalize proper nouns

Always check that proper nouns (Frisbee, Dutch, etc.) are capitalized.

Remember to capitalize kinship names when they take the place of people’s names

Mom loves to dance.
My mom loves to dance.
It’s true that Mom loves to dance.

Remember to follow consistent capitalization in poem titles

However you choose to capitalize your poem titles (ALL CAPS, Title Case, or Sentence case) is totally cool, but you want to be consistent throughout. 

If you are choosing to capitalize the first word on every line regardless of whether it begins a new sentence, make sure you support that and carry it through.

If you are choosing to uncapitalize the first word on every line unless it’s a proper noun or begins a sentence, be careful to double check that this is occurring properly.

Ready to get your book edited? Connect with us to work with a poetry editor today


* All editing suggestions are based on The Chicago Manual of Style style guide

Happy World Poetry Day!

In honor of World Poetry Day and the first day of spring, I wanted to share one of my favorite ee cummings' poems.

How are you celebrating World Poetry Day? I'll be reading the most recent issue of Black Warrior Review, sippin' on some tea, and editing some great manuscripts.

Happy celebrating!

3 Presses - 5 books. Get it.

Happy Monday! I hope you're planning on bundling up with some cool books after work. Even though there are plenty of solid books out from large presses this year, I've been thinking more and more about small presses that have won my affection.

Action Books- They have a bunch of new books out, but I'm still freaking out about Olivia Cronk's Skin Horse.

Letter Machine Editions - Benedictions by Alice Notley and Woo by Rene Angle. Yes, please! Their new and upcoming books are awesome.

Black Ocean - Black Ocean is ruling the year with Tomaž Šalamun's book (on sale right now) and this book by S. Whitney Holmes, which has probably one of my favorite covers of 2015.

What small presses are you drooling over this year?

How to Get Rid of Writer's Block

Get Rid of Writer's Block Fast

Writer's block can be a terrible thing. Some people suffer from writer's block for five days, and some of us are over here in the year to five-year mark. Sometimes we just can't shake it. Sometimes our own insecurities block us from writing. Sometimes the pressure is overwhelming. In honor of my online writing class How To Beat Writer's Block I came up with a short list of tips that might help you resolve your writer's block issues.


TAKE OFF THE PRESSURE When we feel pressure to perform, we fail. To lift some of this pressure. you have to start thinking about your normal routines in different ways. Don't do the same thing every day. Move somewhere else. If you normally write at your computer, write by hand. If you normally write by hand, type on a typewriter. If you normally use the typewriter, write on the computer. Changing the way you write might help you begin to write. The pressure will be gone. You won't be at your normal desk at the normal time with the familiar sensation that you have to write something immediately. This activity can be freeing.


DON'T THINK ABOUT WRITING Sort of like the first exercise, this is an attempt to trick your brain. For a set period of time (one day, one week, etc.) don't think about writing and don't write. Don't worry about the fact that you aren't writing. Don't worry about any previous goals that you had set for yourself. Just don't write. Do something else. In this period, you should be reading and scouring magazines and going to museums and sitting outside and listening to people talk and staring at plants trying to decide what kind of plants they are. You want to come back to your writing desk with a wealth of information to start from.


WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING BORING In an attempt to reduce the pressure and make it easier to write, you want to start with a topic you don't care about or a topic you already know a lot about. What are you an expert in? It could be anything from sleeping to building toy cars, but you are an expert at something. Think about your expertise and write a timed 5-minute how-to article about your area. Try to be as clear and boring as possible. When you're finished, you can take that information and change it to imperative mood. Or, if it's already in imperative mood, switch it around and write in third person. Once you understand the basics of this activity, you can apply it to stories, poems, or essays that you've already written.

With these three tiny tips, you might be able to start making larger strides in writing. Writing can be hard when a million other things deserve our attention, but you have to decide what's important and what's necessary for you to live a full life. If that's writing, then write! If that's something else, then go do that.



Review of Just Ignore the Beer Stains

Here are 3 reasons to read Lawrence Gladeview's debut book Just Ignore the Beer Stains (PigeonBike Press). 1. "I signed eight books/ & was told pound/ would punch me/ right in the nose."

2. "one day/ that typewriter/ will score/ me an exit."

3. "never did see/ lorraine again,/ her pie was/ sweetest of all."