Saturday, September 8, 2012

Editing an Anthology

With a committee, usually three others, I have been editing poetry and prose submitted for an anthology. The writers are senior citizens who are not necessarily writers, in some cases, people who are indulging in a lifelong desire to express themselves. Their work is sincere, sometimes predictable, sometimes amusing or moving. Most of them have forgotten or never knew, the rules of grammar, especially those that involved commas, apostrophes and semicolons.  Happily, only a few have been infected what the modern plaque of thinking it's acceptable to use a plural pronoun (they) with a singular subject.  Reading and righting these submissions sounds like drudgery--one member of the group, a former college teacher--is reminded of the years of correcting freshman English compositions. However, I'm enjoying the job and have burst forth in something vaguely like a poem about our job and what I see as the possible future.


What kind of school-marmy women
Enjoy proofing pages of poetry and prose–
like Macbeth’s weird sisters, like-minded souls;
They sprinkle commas and semicolons;
Find typos, add apostrophes, quotes,
Parentheses, dashes and dots.
They believe subjects and pronouns
Still must agree. They’re the Wise Women,
Of a certain generation and education.

Will this arcane practice fade forever
As writers catch the self-publishing fever,
Their work too brilliant to need grammatical polish?
Will even the freelance editors perish
From the earth forever as some rough beast trampling
Grammar rules slouches toward Kindles and Nooks?
Will texting short cuts become the linga franca
Of flash fiction, prose poems and even books?
Will even poets disdain the subtleties
Of punctuation using white space in imitation
Of the empty spaces in human communication?
For now some of us enjoy polishing and righting
Other’s willful ignorance and arrogantly sloppy writing.


zippiknits said...

It's better than Rap, man...

June Calender said...

Right you are, Zippinits. We've got enough to deal with.


Very nice poem. I had one of the very best grammar teachers in my school district when I was young. I did well in her class but after so many years I have forgotten many of her rules. Now I guess my writing can be called free-lancing. I like to think it is the content that counts when one is writing informally. I really like the way you write and I know you are an asset to the editing team for the senior poems. -- barbara