Thursday, January 28, 2021

the home stretch

This past weekend, my concentration a bit better after the inauguration, I wrapped up a fine-toothed combing over my proof copy of FEED.  Making sure, in addition to the margin issues I want to fix, that I'd banished any pesky typos, misspellings, or weird punctuation. While I rarely do wholescale renovations on poems once they've solidified into finished form.  I have been know to do minor adjustments--like breaking up long and unweildy sentences into shorter bits.  Cutting redundancies or deleting things to help the flow. Sometimes a piece will seem fine when published in a journal, but I'll make minor tweaks before I publish it in zine or book form. The best example being "nebraska,"  a poem in my first book that had multiple revisions from when it first appeared in a lit mag, when I put in in chaps (the archaeologist's daughter and bloody mary.), then a final version in the fever almanac.  In this case, the entire final stanza was eventually retooled and rewritten.

My relationship to revision is a strange one.  In the process of drafting a poem, I usually make a lot of efforts then deletions.  Steps forward and back.   While I initially began as the sort of poet who writes out by hand, there was a shift at some point that led me to composing electronically, if only for saving myself a lot of confusing cross-outs and paper versions.  I don't remember when the shift happened and it was gradual. but it happened.   Once a piece has formed into being, there may be some cosmetic things I'll change as I'm getting ready to submit or make public, but I don't really revise in any organized manner. It's less of an intentional thing I sit down and do than something that just happens here and there.  This may be why I always found workshops rather tiresome.  Once a poem was done, I too was sort of done with it, so telling me to change things like structure or tone would just annoy me and wasn't very helpful  The poem existed, I could no more change it than I could unbuild a house.  I was polite and seemed willing to take suggestions, even nodded my head and wrote them down., but probably wasn't taking them seriously beyond minor adjustments..  Like changing the color of a wall or adding an ottoman.  Hanging a painting here instead of there.  A visiting writer at Columbia told me to watch the number of articles in my poems and if I cut a lot of them, it would be a lot smoother.  This was something I could use. 

So I found myself this weekend, pen in hand, reading carefully through the proof to make sure everything is perfect and in its place. If I can make those changes in the file this week, I can place the order for final copies before the end of January, which have them in hand and in the shop before February is done. Keep an eye out for more sneak peaks and snippets on social media as we get closer. 

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