I’m posting some revision tips for poetry here – mainly because I promised I would. Poets can revise their work for decades – sometimes to the detriment of the original work! Anyone who has ever been involved in a poetry workshop group can attest to the frustrating challenges of revision – from both sides of that fence.
Here are five elements I look at:
- Are there words I can safely delete? I pare back as much as I can – possibly sometimes too much.
- Have I said what I wanted to say? I know that poems can be ambiguous and complex, but I also don’t want to lose clarity. There is often a stage of writing a poem when I have to ask myself exactly why I am writing that particular poem and then ask myself if that intention will be clear enough to the reader.
- The end of a poem should resonate after the poem’s been read.
- Is my title working?
- Are the images working and not inadvertently contradictory or cliched?
It can certainly help to have another person look at the work – they can bring a new awareness, a more rigorous eye and a different approach to problems or challenges within the poem. I’ve been in a few poetry workshops over the course of my writing life, but now, with time limitations, I rely on a couple of readers. (Thanks, Earl!) Comments from the outside can certainly speed up the self-editing process.
My visits to Fremantle, Geraldton and Albany were enriching and the work that was produced by the students was fabulous! It’s a real treat to work with such talented and engaged students. The Literature Centre looks after visiting authors and although the work is full-on, you feel well cared-for. However, it is good to be home with the family. We went to a gig on Sunday at the Skylark Room where the house band, The Skylarks, was playing. Always a joy! Today I went for my first swim in our local outdoor pool and, later, I walked into my local library today and rediscovered the joy of borrowing way too many books. Tomorrow NaNoWriMo begins – I have some cryptic notes in a folder and not much else, but I’m in. Oh, yes – hectic writing month about to begin…the countdown is on!