Monday, January 16, 2006

Stray Thoughts on Revision

I’ve had a couple of really good revision sessions lately on two of my poems. I don’t think my sestina is an exercise poem, but a real poem. Now I just have to innovate and fix those rough spots in the sestina. Yesterday I came up with an alternative for the envoy that I think I like better. I’ll probably retain it for future drafts of the sestina.

For my artist colony application it was suggested to me that I be as specific as possible about the project that I want to work on while I am there. I decided to give my slowly forming manuscript a tentative title. My wife suggested that I try writing a poem using the tentative title as a departure point. I spent about an hour brainstorming, and a few images and snippets of lines came to me. It feels like a new poem is shaping within me. It would be nice if the poem turns out well and can be the title poem of the manuscript.

It’s always exciting when you start working on a new poem. There are endless possibilities, and I enjoy the give and take between the Platonic ideal of the poem in my head versus what I actually write on the page--and adjusting my plans accordingly.

Revision has its own rewards. Lately I think about revision as working on pieces of a puzzle. With revision, you always make choices according to what’s best for the poem. At times that can mean striking out large portions of your writing and beginning again.


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