Revision Lesson: How I Approach Shaping a Poem from a First Draft — 5 Comments

  1. Hmmm, I have to revise my question: …do I plan on revising, knowing that I will have to revise when I finish, or do I not plan on revising and surprise myself that it needs revision?

  2. Revising. Ah yes. Now, there’s a new idea. As I start the poem, do I plan on revising, knowing that I will have to, or do I not plan on and surprise myself?

    • Every poem starts with what compels you to write and what you write that surprises you. And then the revision–where have you quashed what was other was surprising and wonderful? Where have you written your way to something new only to have covered it up with telling words rather than evocation? Where is the sound flat? Where are the lines out of shape (literally on the page) with other lines? Those are the places I start with on revision. And when I write, though, at first I am not thinking about revision but about allowing the poem its life (as much of it as I can find at first) on the page. Louise Gluck wrote that the poem is something always in existence. But we have to write our way toward it.

      • Like the sculpture inside the stone. You have to chip away the outside to let the inner being reveal itself?But you have to be careful not to cut away too much. Thanks for your response.

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