The focus of copyediting is correctness, consistency, and clarity. While I don’t think grammatical correctness is the most important value in poetry, I do think it’s helpful to inform the poet what is considered correct, so that they can make their own informed decisions about following or deviating from correctness in light of what’s best for the work.
Editing for consistency means following whatever dictionary and style guide (usually Chicago Manual of Style 17) is preferred by the writer or publisher, fact-checking place and product names as well as historical details (when appropriate), and making sure the manuscript is internally consistent. While I am not an authenticity/sensitivity reader, I do keep up on social justice issues in language use and publishing and flag any language that might have unintended consequences.
Finally, I edit for clarity, noting specifics that are unclear and making suggestions about clarifying, when appropriate (because confusion can be productive and intentional in a poem).
When I edit a manuscript, I make at least three editing passes and provide the writer or publisher with the edited manuscript, a style guide, and a detailed letter. Poets tend to like working with me because I take each of their words seriously and I am delighted to be part of the process of bringing their words to print.
I have copyedited 10+ published poetry titles.
If you’d like to discuss copyediting your poetry, please contact me.