Some words of wisdom from an editor at a major literary journal, overheard by or addressed towards yours truly:
1. Use the FONT that the journal uses in your submissions, even if they don’t ask for it.
2. Editors are looking for new voices — they will fight over you (if the quality is there).
3. Don’t use italics in titles.
4. Anytime you mention dreams, the reader gives you more room.
5.The point at which you break any pattern within the poem will give emphasis so pay attention to the pattern breaks and what’s going on.
6. Poetry is often made or turned where the patterns break.
7. Every poem has a central question. Identify it and analyze how much integrity the poem holds towards its central question.
8. Concentrate on strong verbs and nouns. Adjectives and adverbs work as glue.
9. If a poem is really about you, then allow it to be.
10. Your cover letter should be 3 lines or less unless another rule is requested. Briefer is better.
11. Try writing what you want tonally at the beginning of your draft. Use this as a touchstone through drafting process.
12. Write into your obsessions or phobias.
13. Endings are good places for power lines.
14. Poems can work on 3 levels. Not all of them have to be present in order for a poem to be effective: Metaphor, irony, symbol.
15. There are 5 major characteristics of poetry: line design (how space is utilized); heightened attention to sound and rhythm; heightened imagery and sense engagement; complication/density; implication.