Editors Talk Poetry / Poets Talk Editing

by Elizabeth d’Anjou

2018-11-14 19.42.34It’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?”

Brenda Leifso

book cover of Wild MadderThe 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

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 refraine2018-11-14 21.07.50d 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 Webb

2018-11-14 19.04.06Mickeelie 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 at2018-11-14 19.52.34 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!

 

Announcements

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: bleifso@gmail.com

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!

Reading Into Fall

by Elizabeth d’Anjou with Anne Marie Benoit
Brenda is shown sitting at the meeting table holding the book, with papers and meeting snacks in front of her.

Brenda Leifso recommends The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

As the leaves turned red and the air turned cool in October,  Editors Kingston gathered to talk books.

Everyone had been asked to talk about a book they’d read recently, with a particular (but not exclusive) focus on reads that had taught them something, about editing or otherwise.

We welcomed three newcomers: Jane Kirby, who had come to share some information about the Kingston chapter of the Freelancers Union (see under Announcements below), but was persuaded to stay for the bookish chat and excellent snacks (thank you, Brenda!); Jonathan Balcombe, a long-time professional editor and writer recently returned to Ontario, and Anne Marie Benoit, who is exploring editing as a career and heard about the group through a family friend.

Anne Marie graciously agreed to take notes on people’s picks:

  • Jane recommends Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin. Le Guin gives tips on writing and provides writing exercises.
  • The Childhood of JesusJonathan recommends The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee, about a man and a boy who immigrate to a new land. They face many challenges from learning a new language, to locating the boy’s mother, to fitting into a new culture with varying degrees of success. Also Underbugs by Lisa Margonelli, a pop science book about termites and how they live.
  • Greg recommends (with reservations) The Artful Edit by Susan Bell. This book is about how to edit your own writing and gain the objectivity to do so. Some of the points the book makes will be frustratingly obvious to experienced editors, but it may prove useful to new editors.
  • Anne Marie recommends The Way We Hold On by Abena Beloved Green. This is a semi-autobiographical book of poetry. It is interesting because it successfully commits spoken word poems to the page.
  • Brenda recommends The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. This book is based on a podcast that features an experienced editor mentoring a new fiction writer; it will be of use to editors interested in editing fiction who need to learn the conventions of different genres of fiction.
  • Elizabeth recommends The Canadian Press: Caps and Spelling by James McCarten. A book to use rather than read, this slender volume makes a useful companion to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary. It gives updated spellings and capitalization conventions and adds new words that did not exist at the time Oxford released its last Canadian edition. Also: February by Lisa Moore, which tells the story of a woman who loses her husband when the oil rig Ocean Ranger sinks off the coast of Newfoundland on Valentine’s Day, killing everyone working on it. It shows what the woman’s life was like before the event as well as the lingering effect it has on her life afterwards.

Announcements

 

Jane Kirby shows off a Canadian Freelancers Union postcard.

Freelancers Union: Jane Kirby, visiting from the Canadian Freelancers Union (Unifor), spoke about what the organization has to offer Kingston freelance workers, which includes many editors. Health insurance, support in cases of grievances with clients, and advice related to contracts are some of the services. The union also puts on some local events, including a panel discussion, Decent Work Under Ford, coming up on November 7. We hope to see Jane again! 

Webinars: Editors Canada upcoming webinars include a four-part series on plain language led by Kate Harrison Whiteside, a well-known expert in the area.

Recordings of earlier webinars are available for purchase, including

  • Starting a Freelance Editing Career (with Christine LeBlanc)
  • Manuscript Evaluation (with Greg Ioannou)
  • Eight-Step Editing (with Elizabeth herself)

AGM: The Kingston twig’s first-ever AGM was held on Wednesday, September 19,online using Zoom meeting software. Elizabeth gave a brief report on how the twig has fared over the last year; a few questions were answered; and members officially elected the twig leadership. Seven members (about half) and one visitor attended. The door prize of an Editors Canada calendar went to Greg Murphy.

Fee policy: The twig’s fee policy is in effect: Editors Canada members continue to attend twig meetings free, and visitors are charged $5 per meeting (after the first).

Coming Up: Editors Talk Poetry

On November 14, a panel of Kingston editors who are also poets will share their thoughts and experiences about the writing and editing of poems. Join us!