On Making the Poetry Manuscript

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Jeffrey Levine’s ”advice on making a book out of your individual poems, given as one who reads three-to-four thousand manuscripts a year” is an excellent introduction to the task. I only wish I had read this much sooner! These were my favorite points of advice:

15) Proof for the Big Abstractions (i.e., “infinity,” “eternity,”) – the 19th century is over. 16) Proof for small abstractions (i.e., “dark”) – the 19th century is still over. 17) Proof for adverbs (carefully). They’re not your friends, unless you’re blessed with the lyrical gifts of Seamus Heaney, the word-drunk genius of Albert Goldbarth, or the million megawatt intelligence and intuition of Anne Carson, in which case, go for it. 18) While we’re at it, adjectives are abstractions: earn them well (see above, re. Goldbarth and Heaney and Carson). 19) Proof for mannerisms, i.e., have you use the word “pale” 20 times?



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