Poem 2 Editing

Dear Readers,
Poem 3! I’m on a roll…


Honestly this whole thing turned out to be way more fun than I expected. Especially since there’s no grading involved and I get to use brightly colored pens! If you are an academic writer like I am, the impulse is to write the best paper or poem possible for a potential reader. In this undertaking, I have no professor to pander to nor any notion of a final number value associated with my work… it’s a pretty freeing concept. At the same time I need to be satisfied with what I turn out from these editing sessions, which in some ways makes things even more difficult… depends on how harsh a critic you are of your own work.
I want to take a moment to discuss a theory of poetry I developed during my thesis. I delved into the idea of two dimensional vs. three dimensional poetry. 2D poetry is your average poem: it has words and a shape. 3D poetry involves a poem’s words, its shape and a third element of some sort—maybe visual, sound, smell, interaction or anything else that brings the poem off the ‘page’. This blog qualifies as a third dimension, so does this commentary or the editing image below. That’s as much as I’ll bore you… someday when my thesis is published you can all marvel at its genius… for now the 2D poetry concept serves as an important structure for today’s editing.
This poem tried to do something rather complex with its echo effect. Sadly, it does not do so in a profound or memorable way… so I’m taking this opportunity to remove that fluff and try something new with the poem as a whole. Sometimes things don’t work out… it’s our job as the poet to realize the shortcomings of a piece and make it better by trying something new…
I have another three-pronged strategy for editing this poem: it’s the RE tactic. RE-move, RE-word, RE-position. Again, the first steps are always the most broad-sweeping. Removing will involve taking out everything that pulls attention away from the main message… in this case, there’s a lot to remove…
Rewording and repositioning is the fine-combing work. Consider carefully the ways in which you revise your work. After the fluff is gone, there are still ways to help and hinder the message. And don’t over edit. The great Walt Whitman really did a number on “Song of Myself” in an attempt to revise. His first edition is often lauded as his best because he took the idea of editing to an extreme. While none of us are in danger of being as awesome as Walt Whitman, there is still that opportunity to mess up a poem by carving too much away. Food for thought…
The Takeaway:
A poem, whether it was intended or not, has a lot more going on than just the words on the ‘page.’ Seize the opportunity to make your poem memorable in all ways, whether that is shape, content, or something entirely new. I decided to make this tree poem speak to its subject more literally and find that it makes a world of a difference in the final product. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box… after all, this is poetry.

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