Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Thoughts on Revision and Sending Out Poems

When I’m revising my poems sometimes it feels like I am working with a piece of rough-hewn marble that has the general shape of what will be the finished product, but it is my job to make those finer chips and smooth and polish. Another view of revision I have is that of a spiral. Each time I make a revision that improves the poem it feels like a turn closer to what I am getting at. After several tightening turns, I begin to see the dot in the center of the spiral. That is what I am after: the finished poem (or at least as finished as my current powers allow).

I’m getting better at judging when a poem is truly ready to send out for publication. A key requirement is that there should be no noticeable bumps in the poem. The poem should appear smooth and whatever flaws the poem does have should be minor or buried and not easily noticeable. It is sobering to look back at work you’ve been sending out and realize that some of it is not truly ready. It’s amazing what you miss when you are still too close to the poem. It helps to let enough time pass so that you can look at the poem with new eyes.


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