It’s often the editor’s task to straddle the divide between creativity and convention. How does this unique relationship to a text play out when it comes to that most creative of media, poetry?
Our twig community happens to be uniquely positioned to discuss this question as we are fortunate enough to count among us a number of editors who are also poets (or is that poets who are also editors?).
On November 14, those at the twig gathering heard from three of them: Brenda Leifso, Bob MacKenzie, and Mickeelie Webb shared their thoughts and experiences about the writing and editing of poems, with Ellie Barton moderating.
We were pleased to hear each panellist read a few poems from their oeuvre to start out. Then Ellie led a lively discussion on topics from “How does knowing a poem will be read aloud affect your approach to writing it?” to “Have you ever had your poems edited? By whom? What was that experience like?” to “Is there much demand for poetry editors?”
The first questions of the evening were about Brenda’s office setup as attendees were intrigued by the mention in Ellie’s introduction that Brenda recently began using a treadmill desk. (She now walks about 20 km a day while working!) Brenda is, in addition to an editor and poet, a teacher, mother, yoga instructor, and outdoor enthusiast.
Her third book of poetry, Wild Madder, will be published by Brick Books in April 2019. Her previous titles are Barren the Fury, published in 2015 by Pedlar Press, and Daughters of Men, published in 2008 by Brick Books.
Brenda has an MA in English from the University of Victoria and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She now lives in Kingston, although her eastern migration from Victoria took about 20 years.
Bob MacKenzie has been writing poetry since his teens and has been a professional literary and commercial writer in many forms, including poetry, for more than half a century. He has eight books of poetry published, with another on the way. (He modestly refrained from giving Ellie a list to include in his introduction, saying instead, “Blah blah blah—if you want to know, talk to me at the break”).
He has worked as a professional editor, both as a freelancer and as an employee, in print and broadcast media as well as at advertising agencies. Although he is not a current member of Editors Canada, he was an early member of its progenitor, the Freelance Editors’ Association of Canada, and has been attending gatherings of this twig since its early days.
Mickeelie is building a career as a freelance editor here in Kingston. She completed her master’s in English at Queen’s in 2017 and liked Kingston so much that she decided to stay. She writes both fiction and poetry. While her poetry presently remains largely unpublished, it has been featured in a number of other avenues and media.
In the summer, she started performing her poetry at the Elm Café, and her work has been featured (and was scheduled to be featured again later that week) on CFRC’s “finding a voice” program, hosted by Bruce Kauffman. Mickeelie created her first poetry chapbook for this event!
Webinars: Editors Canada upcoming webinars include
- an introduction to macros by the brilliant and entertaining James Harbeck
- a two-part series with Elizabeth d’Anjou, called “Real-Life Grammar,” with a focus on modifiers and parallelism
Recordings of earlier webinars are available for purchase.
Connecting with Other Twigs: Elizabeth participated in a conference call recently with leaders of the other Editors Canada twigs in the eastern half of the country, including Barrie, Halifax, Kingston/Waterloo. She noted that several other twigs also have instituted fee policies similar to ours (Editors Canada members attend twig meetings free, and visitors are charged $5 per meeting after attending the first one). It was a good exchange of ideas and information that will be repeated a few times a year.
Coming Up in December: Holiday Social!
Wednesday, December 12, 6:30 p.m.
Milestones on Princess Street (pay-as-you-go)
Partners and friends welcome!
Please RSVP to Brenda by Friday, December 7: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming Up in January:
The Business of Editing—The Nitty Gritty
It’s not enough to just edit things; a professional editor needs the editing to pay the bills, too. Last year in January, we had our biggest turnout ever with a highly practical session about marketing. This January, let’s talk turkey about money. How do you decide how much to charge? Is it possible to keep a steady income as a freelance editor? How do you ask for a raise at an in-house editing job? We’ll spend the evening sharing information, strategies, successes, and lessons learned. You’ll go home wiser, and maybe even come back in February a little richer!