Editing Modernism in Canada


May 3, 2011

report from an RA: Laurier Poetry Series

Since summer 2010, i have worked as an editorial assistant (RA) to Neil Besner for the Eli Mandel and F.R. Scott volumes of the Laurier Poetry Series. From Room to Room: The Poetry of Eli Mandel, selected with an introduction by Peter Webb and an afterword by Andrew Stubbs, was published in 2010; Leaving the Shade of the Middle Ground: The Poetry of F.R. Scott, selected with an introduction by Laura Moss and an afterword by George Elliott Clarke, is forthcoming.

My previous experience as a copy editor was useful in this Editing Modernism in Canada position. With Neil, i copy-edited and proofread the tables of contents, introductions, afterwords, and bibliographies, and poetry for the two volumes. New experiences and challenges included poetry editing, with the importance of paying attention to visual elements and spacing and of proofreading against original versions; research at the Eli Mandel fonds at the University of Manitoba archives; and correspondence with editors, contributors, and the publisher. I found my visits to the archives to be especially interesting. I read and scanned early versions of Mandel’s poems and made the satisfying discoveries, anticipated by Peter, of early and varied versions of important poems like the “Minotaur Poems”; of a missing title for “signs” in Mandel’s Out of Place; and of lines from “The Meaning of the I CHING” that were removed by editors and later returned by Mandel. It was new to me not to have the last (or nearly-last) word on style: Rob Kohlmeier at Wilfrid Laurier University Press gave me a good and gracious introduction to working with a book publisher and its house style. As an MA student thinking about an editing/academic career after graduation, i was privileged to work with such thoughtful and creative scholars/editors as Neil, Peter, Laura, Andrew, and George, who have been supportive and appreciative of my work and interested in my personal and professional development.

It has been a pleasure to work as an RA with EMiC and the Laurier Poetry Series, and i am grateful for the opportunity that the EMiC and University of Winnipeg grants have afforded me to work on this project. The year has passed productively and too quickly, but i expect that this experience will lead to promising academic and editing/publishing opportunities in the coming years.


One Response to “report from an RA: Laurier Poetry Series”

  1. pwebb says:

    Thanks for your reflections, Melanie. Your work on the Mandel volume was instrumental to its success! – Cheers, Peter

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