Poem 60 Edited

Here we go with those weird forms again.

When I talk about control this is what I’m referring to. Remember that we don’t know anything outside the poem. That’s it. So, for example, when a poem only has 80 ish words, each of them becomes wildly important.

Shape poems are the most fun by far. It’s become a bit of a school gimmick with egg poems for Easter and house poems and all that. In this case the shape is less literal. But nevertheless, the image of a stair step down is intentional, as I meant to depict a stepping off of a kind of pedestal. Also backwards, to imply lost momentum, even a retracing of steps.

Now this only will work if the poem buys into this completely and creates a pattern. Again that sense of form, whatever the form is, maintaining consistence until the line is broken with intention.

You might not see the steps, or understand their express meaning initially, or ever. This is part of an emotional choice. The poem would feel different if it were centered, or if the top line was longest, etc. In this case, we are setting tone. This isn’t an egg poem or a house poem or a tree poem, but a shape poem with a mood agenda intended to set tone at first glance and inform with content later.


Mood agenda via shape is a powerful tactic. We have a 2 dimensional experience with poetry: first a visual experience of words in shape and line and second a literal or metaphorical understanding of words. That’s why poets get to choose line breaks and indentations and spacing in general. It’s one of the few things that separates poetry (sometimes) from prose. Keep that in mind when you shape to emote.

Poem 60 RevisedPoem 60 Original

Poem 2 Editing

Dear Readers,
Poem 3! I’m on a roll…


Honestly this whole thing turned out to be way more fun than I expected. Especially since there’s no grading involved and I get to use brightly colored pens! If you are an academic writer like I am, the impulse is to write the best paper or poem possible for a potential reader. In this undertaking, I have no professor to pander to nor any notion of a final number value associated with my work… it’s a pretty freeing concept. At the same time I need to be satisfied with what I turn out from these editing sessions, which in some ways makes things even more difficult… depends on how harsh a critic you are of your own work.
I want to take a moment to discuss a theory of poetry I developed during my thesis. I delved into the idea of two dimensional vs. three dimensional poetry. 2D poetry is your average poem: it has words and a shape. 3D poetry involves a poem’s words, its shape and a third element of some sort—maybe visual, sound, smell, interaction or anything else that brings the poem off the ‘page’. This blog qualifies as a third dimension, so does this commentary or the editing image below. That’s as much as I’ll bore you… someday when my thesis is published you can all marvel at its genius… for now the 2D poetry concept serves as an important structure for today’s editing.
This poem tried to do something rather complex with its echo effect. Sadly, it does not do so in a profound or memorable way… so I’m taking this opportunity to remove that fluff and try something new with the poem as a whole. Sometimes things don’t work out… it’s our job as the poet to realize the shortcomings of a piece and make it better by trying something new…
I have another three-pronged strategy for editing this poem: it’s the RE tactic. RE-move, RE-word, RE-position. Again, the first steps are always the most broad-sweeping. Removing will involve taking out everything that pulls attention away from the main message… in this case, there’s a lot to remove…
Rewording and repositioning is the fine-combing work. Consider carefully the ways in which you revise your work. After the fluff is gone, there are still ways to help and hinder the message. And don’t over edit. The great Walt Whitman really did a number on “Song of Myself” in an attempt to revise. His first edition is often lauded as his best because he took the idea of editing to an extreme. While none of us are in danger of being as awesome as Walt Whitman, there is still that opportunity to mess up a poem by carving too much away. Food for thought…
The Takeaway:
A poem, whether it was intended or not, has a lot more going on than just the words on the ‘page.’ Seize the opportunity to make your poem memorable in all ways, whether that is shape, content, or something entirely new. I decided to make this tree poem speak to its subject more literally and find that it makes a world of a difference in the final product. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box… after all, this is poetry.