Poem 31 Edited: Smoothing Out Harshness

Poem 31 is a literal bitter/sweet poem about love. Bitter/sweet because the idea of fruit is an easy metaphor for taste and sensations. However, the language in this poem is a little too prickly and in the revised version I attempted to smooth that out. Let’s talk a little about how I accomplished that.

aPoem 31

So the original is a little accusationary (is that a word?) about the love and the loss and who was really to blame. I was in a dark place, let’s just say that. But the poem shouldn’t suffer for my present moodiness, so going back the idea was to remove some of that hard language in favor of wisdom.

Wisdom is always a better way to go. Don’t let your poems be sour, let them be airy with a remove that makes the speaker both sage and relatable. Sure, we all bust out poems in a fury, but those poems are hard to read and sometimes embarrassingly poor. Instead, the speaker in the new version is both held together and calm.

I took out words like blame, terrible and rot. I also took the focus away from what happens to the fruit when it was picked too early (selfishly) and made it more about the mistakes made by the picker (inexperience). Everyone can relate to both selfishness and inexperience, but one is less a fault and rather a growing phase. We all grow, so the idea that we hurt each other while growing is more humanist than the pain of a loss.

Loss is good, use it. But just remember that the way you use the influences of your life will determine how good and bad the poem ends up being. This poem needs a few more revisions, but you can see how much has changed in a short while.

 

TAKEAWAY

In a time of pain there are always two directions, bitterness or airiness. Take airiness and see how your poems change when you give them a little wisdom instead of blame. This can simply be accomplished by changing the words used to describe the event. Keep Writing!

Poem 31 Original Poem 31 Revised

Poem 3 Editing

When I look at this poem I can still remember the thoughts going through my mind when I wrote it… I was apprenticing Wallace Stevens as part of a poetry writing course and I was struggling with his subtly. By the end of my studies with his work it was clear that we may never write on the same wavelength.

Lesson number one here is to never give up on old work. Whether it was a class homework or a writing exercise, there is usable material everywhere. Just because that first day you didn’t see potential doesn’t mean it should be trashed, or worse filed away to discover 10 years from now when the passion is gone…

Going from top to bottom I’ll point out a few key points to consider:

1. The title is one of those ‘on’ poems that you will see throughout my collection… it might have been relevant for several works but not whole chapbooks… ‘on’ became a titling crutch for me. Discover your own crutches and identify them. By knowing what we lean on we can become more conscious writers, which is the whole point of poetry.

2. Every poem, and written work of any kind, balances verbiage with temperament. By that I mean quite simply that sometimes the words do not match the feel or sense of the poem. Sometimes they are in harmony and other times they are playing different chords. Know what the poem is doing on both sides and work for better congruence. Please don’t confuse this with how something is being said… that is a word issue…

In this poem, the issue of finding inspiration is overshot with visceral violence that fails to portray the journey… in my notes I describe the struggle as a silent one rather than a violent one… keep this in mind… make the words and the cadence of your work both equal partners in a poetic piece.

3. You will notice that whole lines are crossed out at a time. This leaves large sections open to new writing… be wary of this kind of full scale overturning of stanzas… just because it fixes issues now doesn’t mean they are perfect, the editing process begins all over again once something new is added… Like a virus sweep, you run it until your computer is clean, not just once…

TAKEAWAY

This poem, though I loved the earlier draft, needed some serious work. Remember to keep an eye out for the pitfalls you recognize in your own writing and edit edit edit… Breaking your own habits is key to developing new skills… good or bad a habit can become a crutch, and a crutch will limit your potential every time… Instead of habits, develop rituals; unlike habits that are stationary (like my verbal tick for titling ‘on’), rituals like editing or handwriting or retyping or inverting poems are part of a process. These lead to better final pieces. This blog is my ritual, by editing I can break those habits that I’ve picked up over time… what will yours be?

 

Poem 3 RevisedPoem 3 Original