Revising...Poetry on a Rainy Afternoon
After a draft of a poem has had time to sit quietly and figure out exactly who it wants to be, it's ready to be edited. If you listen to the poem – your revisions leave both you and the poem satisfied and it may not need any more editing ever. But if the poem has one idea of what it wants to be and you have another – you could be wrestling with each other for years – literally.
I have a few poems in this state. I'm constantly editing them and then reversing all the changes and leaving them just as I found them. It's almost better to just let these poems alone and let time do some of the work. In a month or two I might have a more objective eye.
Poems don't like to be rushed. Some poems of course don't want to be poems at all – so they will fight you tooth and nail and no matter what you do – you can't make the words on the page into a poem. You simply have a part of a poem that may or may not find other parts to make it into a whole poem.
I have at least five poems that don't want to be poems. I work on them every once and a while and they always cross their arms and refuse to become poems. Damn them! I try to be understanding. I do. But sometimes they really get my goat.
I have piles of drafts of poems that need my attention. It's starting to feel a bit unorganized. Editing requires a clear, calm and creative state of mind. I need a day to just figure out where I'm at with each of these drafts...they're like employees who all have concerns and I have to figure out what I can do for each one. One wants a vacation – one needs time off for an operation – another wants health benefits that include massage. Some want to quit. Others want a raise. You get the idea. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
Time to dive in. I'll have to line them up in single file and listen to their complaints, their dreams and their plans for the future...