Literary Citizenship

To Balance Silence and Sound

If a writer’s power begins in sound then an editor’s power begins in silence. What we say matters. What we omit matters.

But too often we see the blank page as the enemy, something to overcome, a wall that needs to be scaled or torn down. Whether we’re looking from a writer’s viewpoint or an editor’s, publication is given power, and that power is mostly deemed positive. Truth is the silence of the sheet can be a shield; it can soften a blow. Or it can be static, white noise to amplify the voices that need to be heard.

I often state it’s more important to be a good person than a good writer. Only recently did I apply this philosophy to my role as an editor. I once believed editors should choose what to publish based strictly on the merit of the work. The writer didn’t matter so much as what was written. What a privileged exercise that was. What we write, what we publish – it matters. Who we are, who we empower through publishing – that matters too. If writing is a political act then why not editing? If words can change the world so can their absence.

I don’t have all the answers, not nearly. But I choose to move forward with intentionality, in all my creative avenues. To see the poem and the poet connected. To see the world in all its fragility connected to the word. To see the word as something powerful. To see the editor as someone who can charge the world or shock it.

“I chose to distance myself and my press from her in order to express my own stance…” – Diane Goettel, Executive Editor of Black Lawrence Press

This, too, I choose. To use editing as another mode of communication, another way to express good in the world.

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