Professional Development Seminar: Questions to Ask a Poem: The Basics of Poetry Editing with Ruth Daniell

What: Editors BC professional development seminar
When: Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 7:30–9:00 pm PST and Thursday, January 27, 2022, 7:30–9:00 pm PST
Where: Online through Zoom
Cost: $90 for Editors Canada members ($70 early bird), $170 for non-members ($150 early bird), and $50 for student affiliates. Advance registration required. Registration closes January 21, 2022, at 11:59 pm; early-bird rates are in effect through December 17, 2021.

Registration is limited, so we encourage you to register early to avoid disappointment.

In this workshop, you will learn the basics of editing poetry, focusing on the relationship between form and content and on the ways that you can support poets to bolster the unique strengths of their work. You’ll gain strategies for discussing memoir-based poetry so that the emphasis remains on craft while still effectively interrogating its narrative elements, as well as strategies for work that strays outside of the realm of contemporary lyric poetry. You will be given four key questions to ask any poem to help you investigate its purpose and its execution. 

This workshop will ask you to engage in both the playfulness of poetry and its ability to perform serious investigations, as well as to revel in the specificity of language. Ultimately, this workshop will look at what an individual poem is trying to do, whether it’s doing this successfully, why or why not, and how you can support the poet in achieving their goals for the poem.

The workshop will cover the following topics:

  • Line breaks and the use of lines as discrete units of meaning
  • What a title can (and can’t) do for a poem
  • The balance of abstract and concrete language and the value of imagery
  • The anatomy of metaphor and how to identify and tackle clichés 
  • The nuances of poetry on the page versus onstage
  • How to read for sound
  • The four questions to ask a poem
  • Intentional pacing

Ruth Daniell (she/her) is a freelance editor, speech arts teacher, writer, and the author of The Brightest Thing(Caitlin Press, 2019). Recent work appears in Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis (Coach House Press, 2020) and Resistance: Righteous Rage in the Age of #MeToo (University of Regina Press, 2021). She holds a Bachelor of Arts (honours) in English Literature and Writing from the University of Victoria and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She lives in Kelowna, BC.

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