Poem 52 Edited – Holy Holy

Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! – Allen Ginsberg in his Footnote to Howl

aPoem 52

This poem needed some Holy. This poem needed a lot of everything, but instead of retiring it, like poor Poem 51, I decided to give it more power in reference to a poem far beyond my league.

Holy Holy.

The reference process is a little touch and go. I will not get onto my long drawn out soap box about the literary conversation and all the things that make every poem connected to everything else, bla bla bla… if you really want to hear all that comment below and I will be sure to bend your ear.

In this shorter commentary I will simply detail a few potholes about the poem world that are becoming issued as the new, less read generation, rises to their feet.

1. No one memorizes poems

No one. Not even the english majors. Now that everything is on the internet, we read more and dig a little less into our favorites. Not that we don’t have favorites, but there are more pressing things to do than memorize lines. We can just link them.

Instead there will be more power in referencing the more memorable bits of poems outright and footnoting those parts that are harder to know off hand. For this one, the Holy sort of spoke for itself. So I left it. Maybe later I will make it more visible, but for now I hope they stand.

2. Embrace markings

If you want your reader to take the extra step and see a reference, make it seem like a different piece of the poem. Repeat it. Italicize it. Mark it with a dash. Put it somewhere strangely on the page. The interested reader will take the time, but only if they sense that there is something else other than just your words. There will be so much power in your reference that gets lost when you don’t distinguish it from anything else.

3. Give Up the Struggle

So what if no one knows you referenced Keats’ little-known play in your sonnet about love and loss. The point is depth, the point is conversation, the point is reverence. Someday, someone will see that for what it is. Like letting a bottle message into the sea, your hope is that someone finds it and begins their own adventure. If you wanted someone to get the message right away you might as well have sent an email.



This poem was a mess. I needed much more change and freshness to come in and take out the stale. The heartline–that first line–stayed the same, so I feel the point is intact. However, these tactics are strong ways to give the poem an outside reference point. References can make or break a poem and a poet so read well and remember the changing landscape of the poet and reader will affect the way you write for the future.


Poem 52 RevisedPoem 52 Original

Poem 58 Editing

Today we are going to talk about the heartline.

Often, but not always, there will be a part of a poem that inspires the rest. I call this the heartline, the part most vital to the ideas behind the poem itself. Sometimes there will be a reason to remove this line, sometimes it inspires several poems. Every situation is different, but if you find that there is a distinct line that povits the rest of the piece, this post will aply to that kind of poem.

The heartline, suuuuper imprtant. I find that I am playing with a line for weeks before I ever write the poem. Don’t rush it. That is how we get lame poems. Sometimes your poem will support this line, other times it will dissapoint it.

If you find that your poem is not living up to te heartline there are a few options. Scrap it, fix it, or just remove that line. It might make sense without it.

For this poem, that line was merely the inspiration, it is not the backbone or the crux, or the moral at the end. It is merely an image (and an allusion to the headstone of Keats btw) that allows for the poem to pivot into motion.

Heartlines don’t need to be very compelling in themselves, but are another good test of your editing potential. If the poem is living up to the heartline, then a small scale editing may help. If the poem dissapoints the heartline, maybe there are some bigger moves you need to make in order to improve the work as a whole.


The heartline is an important benchmark for any given poem. If a poem grew from a single line, your job is to decide if the poem lives up to that line or if it dissapoints it. In no way should this line be anything but an inspiration, no pressure, but remember that getting down everything in your head is impossible, but that heartline, that thread is a good tell of how close you got.


Poem 58 RevisedPoem 58 Original