28 October 2008

what we look for

Poetry is a game with no rules. And reviewing of poetic materials is not a scientific matter. However, here at Young British Poets we have come up with a few guidelines that serve our editorial team as common ground for submissions assessment.

This is what we look for:

A distinct voice. It does not matter whether poetry is about eggplants, elevators, turnips or monster trucks. It does not matter if it is yet another poem about love lost, loneliness or despair. But we do care about finding distinct voices that tell us about what we already know in a new, different way.

An eye catching title. The title of a poem is like a movie poster. It may make you curious about what it is "promoting". So we love well crafted, smart, witty or plain silly and playful titles.

A great beginning, an even greater ending. If a poem grabs you from the neck right from the start you will probably keep reading it until the very final verse, where we love to find a bold, elegant, significant ending, something that reads like "Thanks for traveling with us", or maybe even "Rot in hell".

Flow, rhythm. Was the travel soft and easy, was it rocky and rough, was it fast, slow paced... we enjoy all types of rides, as long as it is a real, compelling ride.

Emotional impact. We read poems to ourselves, we read them aloud, we look for snippets that we like within the poem, we dissect and reassemble, we read poetry upside down... but in the end all we are looking for is emotion, in the widest and wildest of senses.

Kevin Bacon
Editor, YBP