I hope everyone has recovered from last month’s poetry writing. If you participated in a fraction of the prompts and poetry activities out there, then I know you have a drawer full of poems and drafts. Get ready to open the drawer.
What do I mean by polishing silver? I mean revising, revising to the point of creation. Whether you write and then revise or you write/revise as you go, changes are always necessary. But what about those poems we abandon? What about the ones with good parts or ideas, but we find the whole unsatisfying?
For this prompt, I would like you to find a poem (or more than one) which you know needs revision but you’re not sure where to start. If you choose more than one, try to choose ones with complementary themes or images (or images that create powerful contrasts/synergy). Once you have chosen your poem(s), go through the following steps, using the steps that work best with your writing and emerging poem.
- In your poem(s), pick out your favorite parts (the parts you feel you got right/near right). Write them down.
- In your poem(s), identify imagery, metaphor, themes, etc. which enhance your choices in step one. Write them down underneath the corresponding parts in step one.
- Brainstorm new ideas to add to step two and write them down.
- Now to find connective tissue. What do the choices in step one have in common–themes, physical images, colors, sensory imagery, symbols, etc.? Make notes. Mark them on your paper. Add new ones to your lists.
- Look at what you have on your paper. Find what connects best and write it on a separate page. Try writing it out in prose and see if a story emerges.
- Time to consider your form. Will you rewrite using your original framework (free verse, sonnet, haiku, etc.) or try a new form?
- Finally, polish out the details–word choice, transitions, line breaks, etc.
This is creation at work. Going back and revising is not one of my habits (confession time). So I am going to do this prompt with you. Take your time and put your heart into it. I look forward to seeing your new creations and especially in hearing how the process worked for you.