II. Process: Peer Review–How Useful It Can Be.

(Let’s play a game. Find typos in this post, and post them in the comments. Keep in mind, some rule-breaking isn’t necessarily a typo.)

You never know how hidden a typo can be from your own vision until you ask your peers to read through your work. But there is nothing more embarrassing than a poem with a huge mistake on the second word, especially if the poem is only 10 lines. That’s TEN lines that you need to keep track of. It isn’t a novel. It isn’t like you’re writing a textbook.

The embarrassment is necessary, though. After all, I’m a human being, and these things happen. And until I can find some type of grammar check implant I can put into my brain, I’ll remain human. Which is a shame. Hurry up, Future. I need to become a grammar cyborg.

Anyway, I’m just saying, if you think you have a finished poem or manuscript and you haven’t let a single person read it, you’re doing it wrong. Not only is it necessary for the sake of quality, but there is nothing like sending a poem littered with typos and mistakes to a journal and realizing the next day. (shhh… Don’t tell anyone, but I once did this to Crazyhorse…I’m sure that put me on a “never-publish-under-any-circumstance, even if poets nearly vanish from the face of the earth, and this is the only poet left” list).

Apart from the typo that I spent three paragraphs complaining about, Peer Review (yes, I capitalized it!) can give new insight on arrangement, and holes. I received good feedback on moving things around, and will probably take some of it, after some thinking.

Oh, and since I’m suppose to be sharing my emotional stuffs–for lack of a better word–on this process, there are good days and there are bad days. The good days are when I read through it and go, “I’m proud of this and the words that I’ve written.” These days are usually accompanied with a sense of these few mistakes aren’t really mistakes, they are part of the new artistic ideal. The bad days are when I read through it all and find little of value. Which, luckily, isn’t too often. I usually take these days to step away before I do anything too destructive. A little destruction is okay, as long as it isn’t the poemocalypse.

I have figured out my next stage. Which I’ll briefly summarize here, and then make a post when it comes:

I’m going to print the manuscript in book-size. Front/back, about the size of a general poetry book, with some staples maybe. Yea, I’ll add staples. Then I’ll read it like that a few times and see if I can sit down and enjoy it. I’ll pretend like I’ve never seen it before (which won’t really work, but I’ll try). And titles… This will be the difficult part. I have some ideas. And maybe in the next post I’ll share a poem from the book. Well, there is already one online, but I’ll share another. Go look and listen to Enigma. It’s the final poem in the book.


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