Thursday, 20 February 2014


I was invited to edit the poetry for this online magazine. Have a look at the selection here

I didn’t know to expect from a bunch of submissions to wordlegs when I was asked to select the poems for this issue by Elizabeth Reapy, who I nearly met once. I had read earlier issues and knew wordlegs was specifically and selflessly set up to showcase emerging talent from writers from or living in Ireland. But who would send in what exactly. I printed out the poems I received with all identification removed so the selection was done anonymously, which I feel is very important. Then I settled down to read through. I separated them to 3 piles Yes, No, Maybe. Then read again, waited, read again out loud until the pages had stopped jumping piles like kangaroos and settled down.

I was very happy with the standard, with the range of subject matter and impressed with the energy behind the words. First, some pointers for possible improvements for poems I passed over:
  • Great big blocks of text put me off. Consider cutting into stanzas
  • Inconsistent line endings and punctuation. If you’re going to break the flow, you need a good reason to do so
  • Clichés. Don’t go there.
  • General Over-The-Top-ness. Leave some room for the reader.
  • Don’t mangle your words just for a nice Rhyme.
  • Adjectives and adverbs, don’t overegg the pudding
  • And Beware of the So What? poem.
But what do I know? I have made all these mistakes myself. Each editor has their own taste and buttons to press and would no doubt choose a different selection. Here’s mine.

Some lovely images that stuck with me from poems from Daniel Ryan and from Michael McDonald, who made me want to dip a spoon into a coke float again. Then there was a delicious delight from Maeve O’Sullivan that will get everyone’s mouths watering. Phil Lynch’s brilliantly titled poem draws you in and James Conor Patterson’s mind takes flight when he should be filling in forms. There’s a yearning plea from Faye Boland, who I hope got everything she deserved and Sarah O’Connor too captures a delicate moment very well. Caleb Brennan carefully gets inside the head of two shy ghosts with a surgical eye for detail and somehow Bonny Tsang’s poem magically manages a different meaning and conclusion each time I read it. But the star of my bunch was Orla Fay whose three poems were tough to whittle down to one but I settled on a lusty sonnet that should delight all.

1 comment:

McKLaura said...

Good to hear how someone approaches this difficult task. Looking forward to reading the results.