Actionable Tips to Help You Edit a Poem.

Demistify the editing process a bit and check out these techniques for editing your own work.

Dang. Writing a poem can be hard, but what do you do when you stare at the blank page? I want to demistify the editing process a bit and look at some techniques you may want to explore when you’re editing your own work.

How to Edit a Poem

  1. Look at the form of the poem. How are the stanzas broken? Are you using couplets? Tercets? Is there a better potential form based on the content of the poem? Can you ask yourself that question and hold it in the back of your mind?

  2. Look at the punctuation. Is the poem utilizing standard punctuation? Is there another way you might be able to play with punctuation? Is all of the punctuation necessary? Are the line breaks doing the work of the punctuation?

  3. Check the images. Do they all speak to a similar place, space, or moment? Do you have one image of a tree and another of outer space? Are your images working against each other? Highlight all the images and see if they’re creating a singular world. Or, if your goal is to create more diversity, check to make sure your images are doing that.

  4. Look for places to cut. Do you get too wordy? Over explain? Check for places to cut single words or whole lines.

  5. Explore your word choice. Are there moments where you can tweak your wording to create rhythm, play with meaning, or enhance expectation?

  6. Is the narrative working? Are you shooting for a clear poem? If so, is your narrative clear? Is the speaker moving in the poem? Where are the moving? What are they looking at/thinking about/heading toward? Do they shift places randomly? Is that intentional?

The goal isn’t to write one type of poem; it’s to make sure that you work on making your poem the best version of itself that it can be.

Comments (0)