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Passions in Poetry

How easy is it for you to edit your poems

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William James
Junior Member
since 05-05-2008
Posts 31
Ohio


0 posted 05-07-2008 04:06 PM       View Profile for William James   Email William James   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for William James

When I write, I MUST finish without being interrupted because the feelings are so strong or emotional that if I have to, say, answer the phone, I lose the rhythm and the focus of the piece and it becomes an orphan (or widow).

Days later looking on a previously completed work, I cannot seem to be able to improve on rewriting an entire line.  A word here or there? Yes. Everytime I try to 'improve' a line, it just doesn't quite sound as good as the original.  

Am I the only person that has this failing limitation?

Will

Sunshine
Administrator
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart


1 posted 05-07-2008 05:28 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine


Why would you perceive this as a failure? If it sounds good to you days later, and no editing is required, then you are satisfied with your Write.

Do you read your work aloud, or to others? Is what you hear in your head the same as it appears on paper? Or do the line breaks change?

Does your mouth change your mind, and instead of "this" word, it utters another word which stands as well within the poem, so that either word could be used?

We grapple with this in our writing group, Prairie Inkwells. We share our poetry, reading it aloud, and even then as we read, we find what we consider to be our own errors, or, as in an omission of error, find the better way in which to display this or that theme.

We also benefit from the way others hear our poetry. They allow us to find our strengths and weaknesses.

Although I noted in an earlier post of yours that you weren't sure whether or not you'd continue to write as you are now content in your life, it seems that the bug of it has returned to your soul, so I hope that you find the answers both here in the walls of blue, as in other forums and venues, and that we will be some of your audience to such releases.

serenity blaze
Member Empyrean
since 02-02-2000
Posts 28839


2 posted 05-07-2008 07:56 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I completely understand this. When I was writing (the dreaded block is upon me now) I used to write directly into this box. I've written many, many, five minute poems. I lost a lot of them too. (I use notepad now.)

And yep, I have to get in a "mood"--which is harder for me to do now.

(Jose Cuervo was not a friend of mine.)

Nice to meet you, though, William.

serenity blaze
Member Empyrean
since 02-02-2000
Posts 28839


3 posted 05-07-2008 08:04 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I forgot to answer your question. (See? I got distracted over here.)

I edit my poems to death.

*shaking my head*

I've come to the conclusion though, that the poem just has to satisfy me. Eventually you have to decide that you can't please everyone, so while I welcome critique, I've decided to stop trying to write made-to-order poems. I still consider critique, but file it away in my head "for future reference."

oceanvu2
Senior Member
since 02-24-2007
Posts 1007
Santa Monica, California, USA


4 posted 05-07-2008 10:11 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Write drunk, edit sober.  Or vice versa.  

Here's the short form:  It's a craft.  If you've mastered it, leave it alone.  If you haven't, edit.

Best, Jimbeaux
serenity blaze
Member Empyrean
since 02-02-2000
Posts 28839


5 posted 05-07-2008 10:45 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Very cool to see you here, Jimbeaux!



(He is my "great advice" guy.)

Give my love to Deb, too.
Bob K
Member Elite
since 11-03-2007
Posts 3860


6 posted 05-23-2008 03:48 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     If you're writing for yourself and you find any change weakens the poem, don't change the poem.  You have satisfied your audience.  You've done what you wanted.
This is a fine way to write poems, as purely personal documents, and the only revisions needed are revisions that reflect changes in yourself as your perspective or insight may change.  Sometimes, not even then, because a poem can be a perfectly useful record of who you were at the time you wrote the poem.

     These poems may or may not be meaningful to others.  If they are, it's coincidence, because it's an accident that they would see them in the first place, and their enjoyment of them is not a concern to you.

     If you want them to move other people and that is as important to you as they uses they have for you internally, then a whole different set of questions becomes important in addition to the ones we've spoken about.  How is it for you?  

     For me, I am very much concerned with what other people think.  I am very conscious of wanting an audience, and I resent any concessions I feel I may have to make to them.  I've learned to take feedback pretty well, even when it's angry, and not to try to defend my poems most of the time.  (At least I try not to.)  But I find myself blinded to the faults in my poems by the fact that I've written them, and—as Ron says about his software, they don't have bugs, they have features.  That makes editing difficult.  Often it takes me years between starting a poem and finishing it, 5 years, 20 years or more.

     I was looking through a copy of Donald Justice's Selected Poems in 1978  or '79, before he was about to give a reading in New Hampshire.  All of these poems had been published before, some of them in Poetry and The New Yorker and magazines at that level.  Every poem was filled with penciled notations, crossed out words, substituted phrases.  These were changes he wanted to make in poems, many of which were already famous, before they went into another printing.  I don't know whether he did or not, but I did see the pencilled revisions.  

     Robert Graves reported about Thomas Hardy, the English novelist and poet, that Hardy wrote fairly quickly, frequently with only three or four drafts, sometimes as many as seven or eight.  Graves said of himself that he wrote more slowly, taking thirty-five drafts or more for a poem.  Marvin Bell would write a book of poems in a two month sitting, revise frantically for a month or two and be finished.  When Sylvia Plath was "hot," she was able to write two or three poems a day, with very little revision, though I suspect she was able to talk with Ted Hughs about some of them.  I don't think he did any revision for her, though.

     Is that the sort of feedback you're looking for?

Best, BobK
 
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