Poem 3 Editing

When I look at this poem I can still remember the thoughts going through my mind when I wrote it… I was apprenticing Wallace Stevens as part of a poetry writing course and I was struggling with his subtly. By the end of my studies with his work it was clear that we may never write on the same wavelength.

Lesson number one here is to never give up on old work. Whether it was a class homework or a writing exercise, there is usable material everywhere. Just because that first day you didn’t see potential doesn’t mean it should be trashed, or worse filed away to discover 10 years from now when the passion is gone…

Going from top to bottom I’ll point out a few key points to consider:

1. The title is one of those ‘on’ poems that you will see throughout my collection… it might have been relevant for several works but not whole chapbooks… ‘on’ became a titling crutch for me. Discover your own crutches and identify them. By knowing what we lean on we can become more conscious writers, which is the whole point of poetry.

2. Every poem, and written work of any kind, balances verbiage with temperament. By that I mean quite simply that sometimes the words do not match the feel or sense of the poem. Sometimes they are in harmony and other times they are playing different chords. Know what the poem is doing on both sides and work for better congruence. Please don’t confuse this with how something is being said… that is a word issue…

In this poem, the issue of finding inspiration is overshot with visceral violence that fails to portray the journey… in my notes I describe the struggle as a silent one rather than a violent one… keep this in mind… make the words and the cadence of your work both equal partners in a poetic piece.

3. You will notice that whole lines are crossed out at a time. This leaves large sections open to new writing… be wary of this kind of full scale overturning of stanzas… just because it fixes issues now doesn’t mean they are perfect, the editing process begins all over again once something new is added… Like a virus sweep, you run it until your computer is clean, not just once…


This poem, though I loved the earlier draft, needed some serious work. Remember to keep an eye out for the pitfalls you recognize in your own writing and edit edit edit… Breaking your own habits is key to developing new skills… good or bad a habit can become a crutch, and a crutch will limit your potential every time… Instead of habits, develop rituals; unlike habits that are stationary (like my verbal tick for titling ‘on’), rituals like editing or handwriting or retyping or inverting poems are part of a process. These lead to better final pieces. This blog is my ritual, by editing I can break those habits that I’ve picked up over time… what will yours be?


Poem 3 RevisedPoem 3 Original

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