This is a Texas Chainsaw Editing Massacre!
This is the perfect example of how there are great gains to be earned by really letting go of any inhibitions about a poem. There were about 3 lines that I really loved in this poem (written for my dear roommate EK on her abroad trip) that I felt important enough to keep. Sadly, this poem is not about her anymore and the effect is a little more drowsy. There were places for growth and lines that really made no sense at all. There was nothing connecting the middle to the ends and even though this was a poem written in my “experimental phase” the cool factor of my randomness faded with a lack of wow. Nothing really held it together, like a sandwich made of lint. A novel idea but pretty underwhelming when made in reality. I was pretty proud of this at the time, another reason to always look back and at least check a poem before touting its genius.
Some part of me was in love with the idea of this poem. But there was nowhere to go from here, no way to edit words or phrasing without unraveling the whole thing like a rug. Poems like this are trouble, they seem odd and clever and fresh at first, but that’s pretty much their only bang. They are like sparklers, bright and lovely and short lived. Then they are empty of gunpowder, hunched and expired. This is the problem with experimental poetry. It’s a skill and a craft, true, but there can be no real editing and no real growth without making major changes. Some of the time, yes, there can be bettering of the poem, but small superficial changes are the only marks I have ever been able to make on the poem.
I can remember loving the poems of ee cummings and the funny quirkiness of silverstein. These poems shaped me, fascinated me and in my later years eluded me. There was nothing I could do to get close and when I tried there was only broken poems and mismatched sections. In this poem, though I love it in a selfish sense, the restyling to my more comfortable spoken-enjambed-flow to make room for later and more fruitful revisions.
Try new things, please, that’s the only reason to write, really. There are sometimes good attempts and bad attempts. The best thing to do with those attempts is to look at them honestly. Sure, I love this poem, it makes me feel racy and hipster and removed, but it hit a dead end. I made a few revisions here and there: updated a word or two, changed a line break. There’s nothing new about that. I found in this revision that nothing could be done with the original that was new, and instead there was some hope in taking what I loved and making something new. Chainsaw ho!