[New-Poetry] On revision
david.weinstock at gmail.com
Fri Oct 8 12:29:37 EDT 2010
I have one hard-working student who revises endlessly. He brings in
poems he has been working over for many years. He keeps printouts of
each revision and clips them together. When he copies the top draft to
bring it to workshop, the paper clip is always evident--we tease him
that his trademark paper clip.
Occasionally I ask to read the stack, to see if his revisions have
done him or the poem any good. What I find is that he takes things
out, puts them back in, takes them out again. Often the very first
draft is superior to the worked-over last draft because it is fresher,
truer, and clearer. Much of his subsequent work seems to have the
intent (or at least the effect) of smoothing over or hiding strong
feelings and regularizing the meter into metronomic iambs.
Me, I revise far less than I used to.
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