Max Pasakorn of Kopi Break Recommends...

As writers, we might think of each poem as a standalone work, dazzling potential readers with its power. We revise by polishing our poems like gemstones. But when poems are published in a magazine, editors must place them in conversation with other writers’ poems that shine equally as bright. These poems need to resonate with each other and perform harmoniously in concert, in order to impress their audience with their cumulative prowess.

In curating poems for Kopi Break, a magazine-newsletter featuring poems from the Singaporean diaspora, I ask: What unique insight could this poem bring? How does it add to or gesture towards new and necessary conversations growing in our community? Answers to these questions are not obvious. (Because they are poems, they should not be.) But I’d likely warm up to a poem that is aware of its potential synergy with other poems in the magazine or with contemporary global conversation. Poems I’ve loved harness the form’s capabilities to highlight and sharpen this awareness, making space for both interpretation and collaboration.

When preparing for submission, I recommend considering how your poem invites conversation beyond itself, how its energy spurs new thought and emotion, and how it might live and breathe alongside other poems when out in the world.

Max Pasakorn, coeditor, Kopi Break

Photo credit: Max Pasakorn