Friday 27 October 2023

Rosanna McGlone (ed.), "The Process of Poetry"


About The Process of Poetry: From First Draft to Final Poem, ed. Rosanna McGlone

The Process of Poetry is a unique collection of interviews with contemporary poets at the height of their craft. How does a subconscious thought become an award-winning poem? Journalist Rosanna McGlone speaks to some of the country's leading poets to find out. Don Paterson, Sean O'Brien, Gillian Clarke, Pascale Petit, Hannah Lowe, Regi Claire, Joelle Taylor, Victoria Kennefick and others explore the development of a single poem from rough notes to a final version to provide invaluable insights for writers and poetry enthusiasts alike.

You can read more about The Process of Poetry on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read about the editor and from the Preface to the book. 

Rosanna McGlone is a journalist, writer and poetry tutor. She has written more than a 100 features for both national, and international, publications including: The Guardian, The Independent, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Weekend Australian and Rosanna has lived in Australia and El Salvador. Her first radio play, based on the massacre at El Mozote, was shortlisted for the BBC’s Alfred Bradley Bursary Award. Her work has been supported by, amongst others, Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Hull Truck Theatre, Vault Festival, Green Curtain Theatre and The Old Vic New Voices Programme. Writing residencies include Capricorn Hill, NSW, Australia and The Hosking Houses Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

From The Process of Poetry

From the Preface, by Rosanna McGlone

No poet publishes a first draft, at least, not until now. Invariably, what you see are carefully honed words, nurtured into being, but what goes on before those words reach the printed page? From my own experience as a poetry tutor for many years, it is clear that most writers have little awareness of the skill and stamina involved in crafting a poem. This was the motivation behind what you are about to read. The Process of Poetry offers an opportunity to explore early drafts by fifteen of the nation’s leading poets and to hear the reasoning behind their development.

These poets have been the recipients of numerous awards including the T. S. Eliot Prize, The Forward Prize for Poetry, The Costa Book of The Year, The Eric Gregory Award, The Creative Scotland Award, The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Foyle Young Poet of the Year and The Wilfred Owen Award. 

One has been the Scottish Makar and one has been The National Poet for Wales. Several poets have work on school syllabi. Moreover, their expertise extends beyond poetry and includes editing, publishing, judging, translating, lecturing, and overseeing spoken word events. 

How was the project undertaken? I approached a number of poets whose work I admired, poets who come from highly diverse backgrounds and represent us all. I was aware from the start that they would need a willingness to make themselves vulnerable in order to share their expertise. 

Initially, each contributor sent several poems, from which one was selected which best exemplified their craft. Some poets offered very early drafts, or even journal notes, whilst others provided later versions still in need of improvement. The aim was to showcase a wide range of writing styles and redrafting techniques.

A series of interviews was conducted, enabling each poet to discuss the development of their work, some of which is based on traumatic events. Whilst a few writers have given a broad overview of their working methods, others have chosen to focus on the minutiae. Some have analysed single words, others a change to title, subject or form. It is these interviews which form the basis of this book. 

The aim of this project is not to identify and scrutinise every single alteration in each poem. The book raises a number of questions. Where does a poem originate? How do you decide on a title? When do you choose the form for your poem? What are the best approaches to editing your work? When would additional input help? How do you know when a poem is finally finished? What should you consider when assembling a collection? What is a publisher seeking? 

Contributors have offered their guidance on the skills that a working poet requires, entering competitions, translating and writing for performance. Whilst often their advice concurs, I love that it is, occasionally, contradictory. I trust that, as a reader, you will respond to the variation that is presented and take away with you what is most helpful. 

My hope is that this book will preserve the unique insights and materials of living poets for the next generation. Better still, that the value of this undertaking will be recognised and that there will be an opportunity to expand it more widely in the future ...

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