On Making the Poetry Manuscript

Worth Revisiting: Levine’s On Making the Poetry Manuscript

Jeffrey Levine

The Poetry Manuscript: Arts and Crafts

Here, adapted from my article in the 2007 issue of the AWP Job List (there titled Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Poetry Manuscript:Some Ideas on Creation and Order) is a revised and updated advice on making a book out of your individual poems, given as one who reads three-to-four thousand manuscripts a year.

Admittedly, some of this advice remains concrete, generic, and “merely” stylistic, although I suppose even nuts and bolts have some intrinsic value when collected in one place. As style is a matter of taste, you must take into account that what I say reflects my own prejudices and preferences.

Many of these thoughts concern more artistic matters: What is the artistic process as applied to making a poetry manuscript cohere? What are some useful approaches to the art of transforming individual poems into a transcendent whole?

In the…

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