Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Revision as re-seeing vs re-decorating

Poets starting out often feel at a loss as to how they can improve on what it is they feel "inspired" their poem in the first place. Often they merely polish a poem rather than revising it: they try to make it sound good, break the lines in more interesting places, perhaps take out offending clichés. That kind of revision is microcosmic work, more akin to the decorating of a room than the framing of a house, the house of the poem...what good is a poem that sounds good but merely reports or pleases the eye or ear but leaves the reader with such a diffuse sense that it's impossible not to lose faith in how and why that dramatized experience matters? Revision means exactly what it suggests: it involves re-seeing the world of the poem. It turns a vague and unbounded experience into one that matters at every turn. - Ira Sadoff

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