Australian writer of books for younger readers, young adults, verse novels and poetry.

Revision tips.

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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:

  1. Are there words I can safely delete? I pare back as much as I can – possibly sometimes too much.
  2. 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.
  3. The end of a poem should resonate after the poem’s been read.
  4. Is my title working?
  5. 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!



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