Poem 65 Edited

Poem 65 I love, but there will still need to be more editing, the end is a little flat and the delivery, though better than before, could be whittled a bit more.

Poem 65

Poem 65. There are so many revised versions to this poem. Most of them were lost on my notes from college as a result of poor organization. Could I go back I would make 2 changes to my poetry plan as a student:

1 – be more organized and diligent about revising in the moment and not waiting until the assignment or the book is due.

2 – take the time to gather all of the drafts so that changes could be tracked and I could maybe go back if I got stuck. 

There was something desperate and fast about college poetry classes. Most of them had only a few assignments, so when push came to shove I stalled them to be more studious in classes like science – ugh.

As a result there was a rush at the end. Not only were there all sorts of papers with all kinds of hand written notes but there was no time to collect them together. When we were at the end of a deadline I was more inclined to just turn out the best poem I could as it was, so inevitably, the versions were lost.

All that feedback, all that middle drafting, just gone. What a shame. If I could go back I would always have saved them, maybe scanned them, maybe made notes on all the suggestions. This poem was a class workshop poem, an assignment poem, a submission poem, so the feedback was diverse and well thought out, and now it is lost to the universe, hopefully I recycled it.

That doesn’t make this version any better or worse than it might have been. Nothing is lost that is not regained eventually, as an artist I believe this with all of my heart. This is just less pensive. Less thought out, less considered. As a poet of process I like the idea of feedback and connected drafting. For me, this poem feels a little like the progression of humans over time. All these missing links and no way to really reconnect them, only thoughts and ideas on what might have been between.

TAKEAWAY

Poems with lots and lots of drafts have a more complicated process that might bet lost if organization is not a priority. For me, the lost drafts are a casualty of my former messiness. For now, the poem is better than ever despite any lost versions. The poem will be whatever it wants to be eventually, as long as we all keep editing, those drafts will be a shame but not a tragedy.

Poem 65 RevisedPoem 65 Original

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Poem 65 Revised

the Water and the Wake

 

When the sea cracked out came a memory

She was a tree limb, she is a ship—all at once

Rootless and full of sky. A ship mistress

Ark’d against the mast, in ecstasy over trouble-waters,

Gulls gailing siren cries make for eyes, her chin

The endless compass of the sea. How many years

Did she live under-sod before they un-buried her bones

How many more can she hold her breath,

Drifting on the whims of a headwind.

—ECW

 

Poem 65 Edited – Poem 65 Original

Poem 59 Edited

Twins. Poem 59 has a TWIN. 

Poem 59

I am all about this new idea I am mulling over. Twins. That a poem can be two things at once, that in its progression, an idea can occupy more than a single space and yet grow in similar or opposite directions depending on circumstance. Like human beings, the poems have relationships with each other that not only depend on all three dimensions (words for 1 dimension, space on the page for the 2nd dimension, extra-ness for the 3rd like images and commentary) but also time, the real life 4th dimension that has real and tangible consequences on the writer.

Twins, in my body of work, so far, represent the growth of what I will call a writable-idea, something that is both tangible and relatable, but also heady and philosophical. That’s just a fancy way of saying the worthy subject of a poem (note, anything is worthy of a poem as long as it is approached in a poetic manner, that manner of course is the challenging bit we poets love to muddle through). Fleshing out a writable-idea takes lots and lots of thought, both conscious and subconscious. So, as a result, i find there are doubles in my collection from similar times and of similar topics that could nearly be paired together in sets. I won’t go that far just yet. In most cases one is much stronger than the other. The second twin, not by time but by maturity, almost always answers the questions posed by the first twin in their corresponding approach to a subject.

Bla. Bla. Bla. Basically, when I try to write about something I care about it comes out twice. Once iffy and then much better. The twin idea is something I am certain is not a singular phenomenon. I know from college that there are poets who experienced this (Whitman, Moore, Pound, Eliot, Bishop, Yeats.) The poems that get published by these writers all seem very singular and perfect, but go back into their works-in-progress letters and editing and you will see an internal dialogue through the poems they wrote earlier, a duel between twins. Or perhaps the birth of two queen bees in a hive, fighting to become the monarchy.

This poem needed more editing, but it also needed to break from its twin. The two together form a powerful bond, which will be reinstated later, I am sure. First, they must grow apart and reach their own potential lest they be bound together in this draft state and never improve.

 

TAKEAWAY

Twins. The phenomenon I am only just getting my head around because I happen to be going back through my whole collection one by one. In essence, the twin effect appears when two poems written in near succession are mirrors and informants of each other. More powerful together, they demonstrate writable-idea in converging ways that reflect on the idea itself and the time they were written. Some twins will come closer, others will break apart, though all instances are evidence that writing as a process is a dynamic flowering arc.

Poem 59 RevisedPoem 59 Original

Poem 59 Revised

I opened the eye of Orion to watch the summer flicker

Downward like a fist-full of crinkled paper.

Some pique with seasons, others pique with time.

As if she eased the tips of those trees to her white-bright match

The hillside woke to embers, over and over, back to the gravel.

A child, entranced by their dance, she points them into step with

Her pink un-ringed finger. She thought perhaps

she would be more graceful. I want to tell her:

It’s falling. When you stand again, then, they will applaud.

—ECW

 

Poem 59 EditedPoem 59 Original

Meet My Twin Poem: Poem 73 Revised

Poem 55 Editing

Poem 55 is a poem that went through some growing pains. A lesson I think all poets need to know:

Poem 55

Poem 55 had the opportunity to see a review from a visiting JMU-grad poet on his book tour. His advice was simple, and mirrored the advice I had recieved in class all semester: Cut the top 

but then upon his second reading he paused and said: Nevermind. I Like It. I don’t know what I would do. 

Everyone felt that way. Even me. The top was highly figurative, it had little grounding imagery and leaned on lots and lots of tired metaphors and similies. The trouble was cutting something that on most second reads, the reader felt was important to the poem.

But what’s important, if it needs more attention than most readers are willing to promise. The sad truth about reading is that most people don’t have a second read. If it doesn’t have a first-read-stick, then be honest, does it work?

I love the first part, but when I finally made the needed cut the poem grew into its own. I could find a good title for it and make some small adjustments that were hard to see in the blaring distraction of the first section.

To be fair, the first part has some good pith (pith being the thoughtful stuff that makes poems wonderful) and so there’s no reason not to cut it up and use it somewhere else.

I had tried a variety of presentations in order to keep the top: Italics, crossed-out text, parenthesis, small and hard to read words that showed something came before. They were no good. There was no good way to present bad information. So don’t. Let yourself delete it!

TAKEAWAY

Poems are only as good as their weakest link. Like everything else, they depend on all parts being equally strong. When a line of a poem or a whole section is not good enough, the poem suffers as a whole. Don’t save bad lines. Delete them, let yourself overcome the lesser parts of your writing, and see the real revisions and changes the poem needs to be great. By keeping the section for as long as I did, I missed more sophisticated changes and had trouble making a title. I thought this poem was about grief, but it was really about my dad. Had I been afraid of change I would have missed out on some serious wisdom. Don’t be afraid, take back your poem!

Poem 55 RevisedPoem 55 Original

Poem 55 Revised

Family Portrait

 

Two score before my parents wed my father held the branches of three trees:

Peach, Apricot, Loquat; their sapping cylinders fresh leaking of life,

With his knife bore them holes together, and bound them with leftover string.

They grew entangled like the knots of unkept ambition, their fruition

Was never compromised by their scars. Here we are

Slack by our tendons, held together barely by bark

But you and I know the best part about broken branches.

They must grow back.

—ECW

 

Poem 55 EditedPoem 55 Original

Poem 53 Edited

Poem 53 was stuck, so I started over.

aPoem 53

Form and Function. Make sure your form is functional. Make sure the shape makes sense with the content, and the poem is the sum of your shape and content, and not just a wacky shape.

Be open minded but not absurd. That is sort of my new motto. I went through a phase of more adventurous writing but the effect was hard to change and evolve. When the form gets strange, I find, the poem is fixed in it’s first draft.

I am not very good at the form poetry that came into vogue a little time ago, taking control of the page and using space like design. Though I crave design, I find the poem suffers when I get too crazy about it. I think, for me, the writing falls into the space it recieves. Like social media spaces, like email spaces, like paper spaces. The poems I write on a compiter are longer, faster, and better thought out than the ones I write by hand because they are easier to get on the page and my handwriting doesn’t slow me down. (I never learned to hold a pencil quite right and my hand gets cramped quickly when I write by hand).

These poems, the crazy ones, are a result of less control and more experiment. I think, maybe, when the poem is final the shape shoudl be applied and then the idea can be cemented.

TAKEAWAY

I basically had to start over, not because the poem was bad but because it was stuck. I think maybe some will come back, but for now the new content will serve as a jumping board for a better poem in general. For me, the shape is sometimes a limiting element, and in later drafts I will try to resist shape until the end.

Poem 53 RevisedPoem 53 Original