The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Re-Verse pt. 4

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I’m creeping ever closer to getting my poem where I want it to be.  The second poem, that is; the one that pushed the first poem to the back burner.  You’re following all this, right?  Good.

The exercise in first writing the poem out in prose form has paid off.  I tightened the language quite a bit and was able to establish a tone without having to think about anything but those two things.  Thomas Lux must be right, then, in what he prescribed.  But I’ll  bet he already knows that.  Ted Kooser must think Lux is right, too.  I keep Kooser’s book The Poetry Home Repair Manual on my nightstand and thumb through it on occassion.  So I was thumbing through it the other night to see if he had anything to say about line endings and enjambment, and on p.149 he has an entire section titled “Learning From Prose.”  He suggests that when a poem is near completion that it be changed to prose (and then back again).  He also alludes to a teacher he knows who encourages his students to compose essays, and then pare them down to poems.  He doesn’t say who the teacher is specifically, and I wonder if it is Lux, but still there are two poets of great renown espousing the same philosophy.  So I must be doing something right by following that advise.  But I didn’t have to read any of that to know it was the right thing for my poems.  I could feel it.

And yes, I really do keep The Poetry Home Repair Manual on my nightstand.  If you must know, I also keep Watchmen, The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Practice for Poets, The Collected Poems of Joseph Brodsky, and Muhammad Ali:  The Greatest of All Time on my nightstand.

Something else kinda strange happened with this poem the other night.  It’s laying wide open on my desk, a handwritten copy of it–sitting there in one of my journals.  I walked past it with something else on my mind, glanced at it, and the line breaks for the 3rd stanza jumped out at me.  I stopped, marked them with a pencil, and went back about my business.  Now if only I could stumble upon a name for the damned thing.

So the time is coming for me to go somewhere and do something with this poem, and possibly get to the other poem.  I’ll futz around with the line breaks for a week or so, then hand the mess off to two friends and see where they would put the line breaks.  One is emerging poet extraordinaire and Harvard graduate Steve Jordan; the other is the AP teacher in my office who has edited more of my writing than I can even remember.  We’ll have a meeting of the minds on the poem and see what happens.  Hopefully, I’ll have the poem in a position where I can read it when I’m at a weekend-long Mensa event over Halloween.  A poetry session is on the schedule, followed by an open reading.  I’m signed up.

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Written by seeker70

October 10, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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