Here is a good example of a poem which made a 100 degree transformation in the name of a better idea.
Sometimes there are poems that start out one way and basically need to get naked to improve. Like taking a shower. Except of course that shower is going to get rid of all the junk in the poem and not BO, but maybe a little of that too. So this poem, like it says above, this was from reading a lot of Virginia Woolf. And while I LOVE VW with all my heart she does make me a little dark. So the idea here is growing together. The subject in the poem above is having issues with that togetherness, it brings her down. The subject in the revised version is having a fine time, as a mangrove instead of a victim, the togetherness feels more natural and less forced.
This brings me to my biggest challenge as a poet these days. Make the poem a positive experience for everyone. In the past my work has been a little stark, having shocking images and sometimes fringe subjects in terrible situations. I think this was because I was changing, growing, finding my voice. The old joke in poetry, at least amongst my friends, has been about that angsty teen poetry that makes the world feel aweful and dark and sad. I think mine was not too far from that category, using more complex words and deeper themes, the sentiment was similar.
My goal with these projects has been to smooth the poems, but I never really defined that. So here it is. This poem is the perfect example:
A moment that makes a poet write a poem is vital, but not all poems are vital to that moment. We are at the mercy of the muse, but that experience is ephemeral, unlike the poem.
The goal is to make the poems transcend that initial spark by making them more than th moment and better through the process of Remote Editing. (Remote Editing being the process of letting a poem sit for a year and returning when the moment is long gone)
It’s a Process.
For this poem, the process is vital for making the real crux of issues find a better entry point: through wisdom rather than passion.
Poems change because the poet changes. That’s why we edit. Never take for granted the power of a good long second look. The results will suprise you. Some poems never change while others make a giant leap into new territory. Don’t fret. The poem will always be moving toward its best version, the job of the poet and later the editor, is to make that better state a waking reality through concentrated changes and open mindsets.