By Daniel Boyko, Hannah Ramsey, Yong-Yu Huang, and Lara Katz
Yong-Yu Huang: Polyphony gives you the chance not only to read brilliant pieces from teen writers around the world, but also the chance to grow as an editor—to read more closely, to think about stylistic choices from a different perspective, and to give constructive criticism in a way that gently points out flaws and highlights in their piece. We come across so many different styles of writing and with every piece we read, we learn a little bit more about the art of writing. I’ve learned that the value of a piece isn’t found in the grammatical perfection or anything quantifiable like that. It’s found in the little quirks and the message that it is meant to convey. Polyphony has opened my eyes to that. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that everyone on the team is incredibly supportive and incredibly flexible in their cooperation.
Daniel Boyko: The beauty about Polyphony Lit is the simple fact that it forces you to reconsider and relearn everything you thought you knew about writing—from the editorial stages of ponderously reviewing the value of each word in a sentence, the writing itself and how to craft a piece, and what techniques make certain genres more effective or not. By writing meaningful commentary to the writer, and also feedback to fellow editors, this really places an emphasis on what defines quality writing versus a lack thereof. Through Polyphony Lit, it becomes clear that solely checking the grammar of a sentence or a paragraph or even an entire piece isn’t enough to solidify the concept of strong and meaningful editing. Thorough review of a piece includes checking how it flows, if it makes logical sense, and if the phrasing is the best it can be. The latter is often a key point included in the Specific Commentary. While there might be a good way to write something, there is also often a better way; and that is what Polyphony Lit teaches writers and editors, helping them become closer to achieving the better and alternative phrasing. As we, as editors, undergo the analysis of such editing, examining a piece from start to finish and everything in between, the applicable experience and ability that comes from Polyphony Lit to review any form of writing is invaluable.
Lara Katz: Polyphony Lit provides editors with a great quantity of diverse writing—in style, quality, and authorship—to read critically and reflect upon. Through the process of editing others' work, your own will improve immensely. You'll become more attuned to what makes a poem powerful, what makes a short story memorable, and how nonfiction can easily be creative, all by helping someone else discover those things as well. The editing pipeline is really ingenious: from my perspective, there is no better way to get better at writing than helping someone else improve their writing, and there is no better way to improve one's editing skills than to give feedback to someone else on their editing skills. As a community, we're all constantly improving and pushing each other to improve. It's a beautiful and exciting thing.
Hannah Ramsey: Polyphony has provided me with the intangible but very precious gift of being able to transcend my position as merely the reader and editor of a work and to instead put myself in the place of the narrator or speaker and view life as it happens through their eyes. This is important, especially because, from experience, it has been very easy for me to read a piece that doesn’t resonate with me and immediately begin to pick it apart, telling the author what needs to be changed and what doesn’t. During my time editing for Polyphony, I have read a myriad of poems, fiction narratives, and creative nonfiction works, each one with a different message, unique characters, and distinct storyline. Sometimes, after finishing my first read through a submission, I would automatically, although often subconsciously, make a judgment of whether I thought it was good or bad. Publishable or suitable for rejection. However, over time, this black-and-white view has been infused with color. Editing for Polyphony has taught me to be receptive to new ideas or messages that I perhaps haven’t been exposed to before. I now approach each work as if its a blank canvas, ready to be painted vividly and in all its complexity before me. I’ve grown better at appreciating the beauty in the details of each submission. Essentially, Polyphony has gifted me with the ability to open myself up to new perspectives, thus helping me grow as a writer as well as a person.
Editors: what do you think? Why should people join Polyphony?
Lara Katz is a the Editor-in-Chief of Polyphony Lit and a blogger at Voices.
Yong-Yu Huang is a First Reader at Polyphony Lit and a blogger at Voices.
Daniel Boyko is an Executive Editor at Polyphony Lit and a blogger at Voices.
Hannah Ramsey is a Genre Editor at Polyphony Lit and a blogger at Voices.