Sunday, March 18, 2012


As an editor of various literary projects over the years, I've often received poems containing a typo(s). In many cases, I point out said typo(s) to the author or the author catches the typo(s) during the proofing. At times, though, I see the misspelled word or missing/erroneous punctuation mark and let such remain because, inadvertently, they create something more powerful than the grammatically-correct version.

Sometimes, though, in situations where I feel the typo-ed version is more effective, the author will come back to me later to say there's a typo, and I correct the typo. I correct the typo because, for poems, I believe the poet should have the final say. In certain of these situations, I sometimes share why I feel the typo-ed version is, in my opinion, "better." Ninety-five percent of the time, the poet still will revert back to the grammatically-correct version.

Now, I've long thought about that 95% statistic. Sure, it can be that I'm wrong or too flakey as an editor. But, even so, that 95% is pretty high. To me, it smacks of poets being too conventional or conservative.

If there's one form that shouldn't be afraid of disrupting convention, shouldn't it be poetry?

Anyhoo, I was proofing some of my poems recently accepted and to be featured in the forthcoming issue of that fabulous literary project, Cerise Press. In one poem, I saw this line:

Honor the lucidity of certain objects: feather, diamond rose

In my original version, there was a comma after the word "diamond." But as I kept looking at the line, there seems something more mysterious (in a good way) about the phrase "diamond rose". It hearkens -- though it's not, I think -- a type of rose. It hearkens something but that something is not clearly obvious. It hearkens, though, and may make the receptive reader go off into some mental tangent thinking about it. This effect, to me, is more powerful than just the acceptance of "feather, diamond, rose" and so I'm going to leave the "typo" of the missing comma alone.

To me, "diamond rose" is more wondrous than, individually, "diamond" and "rose". After all, wouldn't the heightening of wonder be a probable outcome of (heightened) "lucidity"?

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