Poem 36 Editing – A Rough Cut

Hello All,

This is an example of how poems can get a little out of hand. For a good rule of thumb, if you don’t remember what a section was about, or what inspired it, consider strongly removing it. That was the situation that caught me with this poem. The back end was a mess, and while there were some strong moments, it was better to just gut it and give it new life.

aPoem 36 aPoem 36b

So poem 36 came from a real experience, and to give that experience justice I had to take a lot out of the me-ness and make it more poem-y to bring back life. No one cares about my weird relationship, especially if there really is no real reference and just vague mush.
Avoid mush at all cost!

To achieve that I focused on two things: 1 – focusing on an element, in this case exams and how they may not be happening so why bother preparing for them

2 – I also beefed up a stylistic element, enjambment, to give the poem a little more pop.

So enjambment is the use of a split in a line that would be otherwise whole. Natural enjambment makes for a logically flowing poem. The line breaks at a pause in a sentence or a pause in thought at least, making the reader comfortable to read as if they would speak.

Here, the enjambment is a total mess. Not only is it unpredictable, but it also rewrites the previous line. A visiting poet told us, in a class I took at JMU, that there is no reason to enjamb unless there is an exact purpose for the use. Otherwise, the convention is becoming passé with young poets and its use will soon be cliché, so use with caution and drive.

Here that is most certainly a consideration, and hopefully put to good use. As my rules go, there will be lots and lots more ways that the poem can change, especially since the new material opens me up to tons of new revisions. But it’s a thought since it needed desperate help.

 

TAKEAWAY

 

If a poem seems too daunting, try a two-pronged attack: pick a focus and a technique to breathe new life into a poem that seems dead. The two ways of reimagining the piece will help you see new opportunities for change and give you a solid guideline for what is and is not important.

Keep Writing!

Poem 36 Revised Poem 36 Original

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Poem 36 Revised

Exams will be postponed due to weather

 

Or not we can peel ourselves from our sheets

Begin the day as budding adults—unlikely.

Instead, we watched the flakes suicide

Against the warm winter windows, we expected snow

But got instead a metaphor, god I hate literature,

Read it again slowly, don’t skip over the dialects.

 

If a professor holds an exam and none of us

Show up did it really happen—yes—my kid id meant well

But I haven’t cracked a spine in days,

These textbooks are the letters I never wrote to my mother

Those letters are the calls I let forward to recording.

Those recordings are still in the mailbox.

If I don’t hear them—

Yes, they’re still real.

 

I’ll remember this as the part of my life I regret

The least. I won’t remember this at all since

It’s Thursday of exam week and I haven’t slept

On my back for nightss. If I smash my nose into the crease

Of every novel it’s almost like I was reading . I wasn’t…

Planning on sleeping with you last night,

But since it was bound to happen, read me that chapter

Again, in case there isn’t enough snow to call off our finals.

—ECW

 

Poem 36 Original Poem 36 Editing

Poem 72 Editing

Poem 72 and everyone’s invited.

I talked about this issue a while back, I think it was pretty far in the beginning. There are often times when the second person is a good idea, a shock value kind of sober-up moment when the reader becomes involved personally. It can empower the voice to gather greater momentum, give agancy to the moment in a tangible way. So there’s that.

In this poem, the second person is a throw away. This poem is a little flippy floppy anyway, but to have the moment saved by this gymic is a little telling. There are too many people in this poem. A real life voice in crisis, a person from whom they are borrowing, a perverbial and maybe royal we, a past tense I and a we to follow implying a second party separate from the borrowee, and finally a second person you (maybe we in singular? maybe the reader?) that will be on the other side. It’s a party really.

There are too many items to keep track of. I read once that the reader of any piece has a harder time keeping up with the story if there are more and more people they have to pick up. And that there are ways to have lots and lots of characters and still be readible if the writer makes it clear that they are moving and stopping in relation to each other in a way that puts the reader’s mind off the hook. Maybe that’s true. Probably not, some standardized testing crap they fed us I’m sure (who is they, damn another person to bother about).

Whether that character theory is true or not, it makes sense. If you have 100,000 moving parts the main focus of the poem can easily loose traction. It’s a lot to keep track of. Even in a poem with just a few, there are opportunities for confusion. If confusion is your point, of course, by all means move forward! But if you are going for something else remember to always keep an eye on the room capacity. If your poem only has room for five, keep it that way. If your poem only has space for two, let’s not suprise them with a three-some.

TAKEAWAY

This poem is iffy at best. Even in the revision, it’s still looking for some sea legs (no fish puns intended of course). But if you are worried about bigger issues, and don’t know where to get started, it’s goot to have a bit of a roll call. If there are lots of unaccounted-for subjects, people in vague tenses or first and third and second person references with no rhyme or reason it might be time to clear the room. There’s no reason to have a rager in your peom, leave that for your Friday night. Haha

Poem 72 RevisedPoem 72 Original

Poem 72

a little bitter i’m still taking tests to prove my knowledge; bitter still i might not ace them.

Monday

In the adolescence of exam week; no tests for days.
Shopping for horror films on a borrowed Netflix
and for what; so I can sit here and pretend we all
didn’t just fail that Spanish exam. maybe it was
only me…

muttering puttering stuttering. hiccups on paper
would look like the innocent curls of a thrice erased answer
wisps of changing enlightenment. We forgive hiccups, but ignorance,
well, that’s why we take languages now isn’t it. I can sit

here and pretend I didn’t pick fights about it all summer
and assure myself it’ll be a beauty mark of a grade. We
can lie through the cavities in our caffeine colored teeth
about how poorly our GPA will look come Friday;

but maybe that’s the point: a borrowed language, a borrowed
account, a borrowed plot line to see till the end; I suppose I’ll see you there.
–ECW

Poem 72 RevisedPoem 72 Edited