Reading matters

In a recent issue of Poetry Review, Charlotte Newman took issue with a collection of poems for its shallowness, as she saw it:

Simplicity should not be a negative quality in poetry, but the laid-bareness of the thought processes in these poems does not allow the writer or her personae any space to negotiate with the reader. There is no readerly work to be done; which creates an uneasy feeling of being short-changed, particularly when the easily-reached end result yields very little that can be taken away and remembered.

I’m struck by the phrase, “No readerly work to be done,” the sense that the reader finishes what the writer has begun. There’s a balance to be struck here between lucidity and ambiguity.

In response to a report of redundancies among copy-subs at Northcliffe Media, Alison Harmer outlines the valuable work of sub-editors, which hones the newspaper reporter’s rough copy into a text to engage the reader, maintain quality and even reduce the threat of legal action.

You can read Alison’s latest thoughts on the art of the sub here.

Second-time novelist Edward Hogan discusses the role of his editor in shaping the book, which changed the way he approached subsequent work. Hogan is responding to an article by Stephen Guise, concerning editors overlooked for commissioning editor positions, in favour of applicants with sales and marketing experience, but no editing skills.

The work of a good editor does credit to the writer, earning the trust of the reader.

Stet.

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3 Responses to “Reading matters”

  1. gregsweetnam Says:

    The excellent @itchofwriting on the ‘desirable difficulty’ a reader requires, talking typography, literary writing, poetry and art: http://bit.ly/hXI0Te

  2. gregsweetnam Says:

    Has rigorous line-by-line editing of books been lost, a casualty of the demands of sales and publicity? Here’s Alex Clark:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/feb/11/lost-art-editing-books-publishing

  3. gregsweetnam Says:

    “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
    Stephen King

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