Lee Oglesby of Milkweed Editions

I’m not very interested in being a stickler for rules of grammar or style. Grammarians in publishing often wield dictionaries and style guides to rigorously uphold a fairly arbitrary set of rules that distinguish acceptable writing from writing that needs to be “corrected.” There’s more than a little hint of classism and racism in these editing practices. 

More progressive editors know that language and grammar, especially in English, are only defined by the ways we use them. And poets, more than anyone else, are experts in creating evocative ideas using a relatively limited set of tools. The role of a good editor is to help ensure the words on a page do their best possible job of transferring an idea from the poet’s mind to their reader’s. And so my best advice is to stay true to the logic of your own work and avoid getting caught up with what is “correct.” I love when I get to learn the rules of a new collection of poetry. What do commas mean here? What warrants capitalization here? It’s like learning a new language every time. 

Lee Oglesby, managing editor, Milkweed Editions

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Author: squong

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  • October 27, 2020