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Julia Webb wonders what makes a great poem

My name is Julia Webb.  I am one of the new team of editors (or keepers) of The Lighthouse.  I am also a poet and an addict and advocate of the written word – especially poetry, and as such I am very excited by this opportunity to help nurture the flame of new writing. As a recent graduate of the Creative Writing Poetry MA at the University of East Anglia and an emerging writer myself I know how tough the publishing world can be.

There are questions that ring round your head as an editor: what makes a great poem, is it the style, is it the form?  These things are a part of it – but for me personally the essence is the words.  It’s whether a poem sticks in my mind and if I find myself thinking about it hours or even days later. I am a big fan of classical poetry, but my personal love is finding writing that is fresh and new: something I feel like I have never seen before – for me it is the way that the writer uses language, the way the words are put together on the page, the sound that they make in my head as the reader.  The style and the form of the poem need to very much work together. Writing that truly inspires me is that which I find myself coming back to again and again – words that rise up off the page and into memory, words that send a tingle down the spine or cause a start of recognition, words that become through repeated reading part of your very DNA.

We don’t know exactly what The Lighthouse will be yet or exactly what it will look like, but we do know that it will be aesthetically pleasing, that it will champion new writing. We are planning to focus on emerging writers, and we are very much hoping that we will discover some exciting new talent.

“and the lighthouse says:
Here is the world you asked for,
gorgeous and opportune,

here is nine o’clock, harbour-wide,
and a glinting code: promise and warning.
The morning’s the size of heaven.

What will you do with it?”

(from Long Point Light by Shel Silverstein)

Posted 9 years ago

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