Poem 6 Editing

I love this poem. I was trying to work on another assignment during my junior year of undergrad and instead chose to procrastinate with a little poetry. I was able, as is often not the case, to capture a sense of rhythm with this piece that I always admire in others’ work. The use of repetition and structure carries throughout the poem in a positive way, while there are some minor elements that need attention.

The mark-ups are surface level here. This poem has seen multiple rounds of revisions which included a whole restructuring in its earlier stages. My goal here is to fine tune the imagery and establish a sense of I as well as they in order to solidify the solidarity of the narrator. Like a story, some poems have characters that need to be distinguished. Often this notion goes unrevised because a poem is beyond that kind of artifice. Don’t be afraid to try new things like characters, plot elements or even scene shifts in your work. If it feels narrative in nature, don’t resist that, use it to your advantage.

The abstract areas are those where the voice is lost to vague notions. These lines act as fillers for something more poignant. Bodies blurring, too quick to memorize implies little about the moment and at the same time generalizes the perspective of the narrator. Instead of those important poetic details that I mentioned last time, we get a blur that is too hard to memorize, which is also an abstract notion.

Here would be a good place for some color, some sensation, a smell or a sound. The other stanzas bring that to the table, the second stanza seems to hit a lull. However, you will notice I am not trashing it all together because there is that rhythm and the structure to remember.

In this case, I am going to only pinpoint the things that don’t work rather than cut and hack around the things that really work. This tactic should be saved for later revisions and is sometimes where writers hit a roadblock…

TAKEAWAY

A poem can always be edited. at any stage. Remember, in later drafts to distinguish the high and lows of a poem and methods of editing that doesn’t undercut the best part of a piece. In this case the missing sense of boundaries between speaker and environment helped me see where I needed to focus my attention. Step back and ask yourself if a later draft has hit a lull, and if so, where that lull might exist. Fine tune work is just as important as the big sweeping cuts you’ve seen me make before… every step of the way a poem can be tweaked… that’s my favorite part of poetry!

 

Poem 6 Revised Poem 6 Original

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Poem A Edited

Dear readers,
 
I wrote a mother-blanking call to action manifesto yesterday that would have made Literature and Creative Writing professors around the globe shed a tear. It was pinpointed, inspiring and thorough… then, instead of moving forward with my promises and editing the first poem, I planted myself on the couch and watched Family Guy… so there you have it… I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to productivity…
 
So instead of making the same broad-sweeping claims, I will simply begin by saying that this project will be extensive, comprehensive and harsh. I will be editing and refining every poem written here, in the hope that something more powerful will come in a second and third draft… hopefully… who knows…
 
With no further delays, in honor of National Poetry Month, let’s begin.
 
 
 
The poem is titled On Modern Art, in conjunction with Wallace Stevens’ Of Modern Poetry. The poem actually came about from a project to emulate Stevens’ work. But after the grades are in and the semester is over, it’s time to consider the poem on its own… and not beside the original inspiration.
 
The title is highlighted here because it is a maybe… I might need to change things around, remove it… cut it short… Always remember, whether you’re a title person or not, the title of your poem is its business card… so what does it say about your work before your work can speak for itself…
 
Note the green parenthesis midway through the poem… this is the natural breaking point, where I find a little momentum… I will treat the poem in two sections according to this break. From the start, the poem is pretty mushy, not a lot of structure, consistency or imagery, all about the meta-whatever I was trying to portray… you’ll see a lot of red here… red is bad.
 
I start with big words like Existence, endow, depend, depend, depend… these are pretty heavy handed. There really isn’t any greatness established to warrant these words… nor is there really a need to come out swinging like that… if this is my way of echoing modern art, I’m doing a shit job.
 
I get an image at line seven, but it’s not a great one… the idea of images on top of each other opens too many questions. Are they translucent, is the seer omniscient, is there some kind of connection between the images, is the image the painting with sticky brushstrokes or generic images. The painting is still a blur, too much so to build a scene…
 
More big words like divinity… bla bla bla…
 
And then we hit it. The point. The idea of modern art I was trying to capture is the duality of imagery. And here it is, buried in the bottom of the poem, one eye seeing something the other does not… I love this line even more now that I am scrutinizing the poem. Is it two eyes of the same viewer, two sets of eyes… the mind’s eye and the seeing eye… it’s a great moment, where the poem actually starts to mean something…
 
And what does the eye see? Two things that now the reader sees, because I bothered to write them down in the poem, instead of leaving it open. Momentum, gravity, trajectory, all of these real tangible forces of the poem become a reality when I get to the fucking point…
 
It takes me until line twelve and the other shit is just weighing it down…
 
And as a side note I end with this notion of capital G God… like hitting a gong at the end of a lullaby… why God, is there a point for that, and if so is there a reason that it takes me all that time to get religious, and why bother getting so heavy handed in a secular poem. There’s a moment of divinity, but why can’t it be the artist that delivers it, why does it need to be God. In this instance, and many others in my work and the work of my contemporaries, we throw in God as a space filler for the real subject. Everything is grander with God. But the truth is, God tends to steal the thunder in poetry, where keeping it intimate and tangible might be a better way to go.
 
Not bad for a first editing… keeping in mind this poem has been edited before with a lighter touch…
The Takeaway:
There is the poem you write and the poem you’re trying to write. The poem you come up with might not even resemble the poem you are attempting… and that’s ok too… the point is to take a look with fresh eyes (be as objective as possible) and try to find where you were going with this…
For this poem, the real crux was at about line 12. With some tweaking and a whole lot of hacking, I was able to create something powerful… maybe… it might need to be hacked at again…