Pallets and Editing

nightjrrs boxesIt might not look like much at first, but these boxes are the nightjrrs record that was delivered on Monday. On a pallet. A Pallet. That’s right. Something we made was delivered in such numbers as to warrant a pallet. You never quite know what in life will make you satisfied – but this does. And so the slow, methodical process starts of hand stamping all the sides of the records and numbering them. Very pleasing.

The launch gig is planned – just about. More to follow on this. Also, there are more gigs in the pipeline at some interesting venues, which I’m really pleased about. More pleasing still is that we’re still creating new material – some of which delves into old things I have written, creating new purposes for them. Actually, that’s canard: what I should say is that it is giving me the chance to edit some bad things and turn them into better things. It has made me think about editing and how often we do it.

I haven’t quite resolved myself from the excitement of leading three workshops in eight days. It was a blast – and amazing how different people facilitated in the same way will come up with radically different work. A joy. It’s made me want to do more of them. The creation of work is one thing, but the editing of a work is quite another. Many times I have asked to see a copy of a poem done in a workshop at a later date – and when I see it in the cold light of print it seems different. What catches fire in a workshop is a different beast to what catches fire in a final poem. I can’t fully explain why. But it has to do with the page being less forgiving on excess or over-writing. I was turned white-knuckled yesterday by reading a piece attacking a twentieth century poet that I really like, saying that the reason that her reputation had waned is because of her overwriting. There is, in short, editing to do on all poems – it doesn’t matter who you are. A brief (but educative) tour through a few files of poems last night has shown me that there is a lot I need to do if recent work is ever going to be fit for purpose.

But we can often feel that we don’t have the facility to share our editing in the same way that we can communally ‘create’ poems in workshops. I learned a huge amount from Mike Smith’s writing group workshops about the process, and less in other formal regular groups I have been to. Facilitating editing (not the dreaded poem ‘workshopping’ that creates a camel from horse blueprints) is a skill. If I suggested ‘editing workshops’ to the Phil & Lit, in which we could spend a day reading and editing poems, I wonder if people would come. What might happen if you spent a day editing four or five poems, with the same creative intensity as you would if you were bringing them into existence in the first place?

Here’s some nighjrrs to play us out:

4 thoughts on “Pallets and Editing

  1. Thank you, again, Andy. I do feel that I’ve gained so much from Saturday’s workshop – direction, definitely, but also expansion. I would love to edit in the same environment. It does feel lighter with the direction to shed light (sending a silhouette) and point the way (with a radish _maybe_ ). I _had_ meant to ask if you would remind me of the name of the poet, you’d recommended reading, who meets his dad in a dream. I frustratingly couldn’t fully recover the name to jot it down. I would love to praise Dark/Grey, but where to start, it _is_ a good dream, thank you for that too, especially


    1. Hi Kay, thank you so much for the feedback – I will approach the Phil & Lit when it’s time to put together my courses for the next term to suggest something on editing, too. Really pleased that you have found the workshops useful. Thanks, too, for listening to ‘Dark/Grey’ – it’ll feature in the forthcoming nightjrr gigs in Carlisle and wider. It’ll probably be on the first ‘album’, too, but we haven’t put together the recording schedule for that yet, apart from recording ‘Dark/Grey’ and an early attempt at ‘Ending Chairs’ in the studio.

      The poet’s name is W.S. Graham, and this is the poem:

      Power to your future writing!


      1. That’s great, thank you so much. I believe I’d love to hear that album, oh, and I’m sorry about the underscores. I’m not a WordPresser…yet


  2. I’ve only just seen this post, Andy. I would be very interested in a workshop on editing draft poems. It’s so difficult – and so vital – to edit poetry. It would be great to get input from others on what works and what doesn’t. Please let me know if you decide to offer this workshop.


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