I thought this would be a great way to get some cool tips and tricks out there for revision!
We know the usual ways of revising: sitting down in a cute coffee shop and crying into a latte is my go-to. But really, we’re used to revising a certain way, and we could be doing so much more with nuanced approaches!
Revising method 1. Play games! Too many people doubt the power of writing games! Sometimes cool ideas stem from simple word games with friends that can offer new insight on a poem!
Method 2. Try out a new form! By giving yourself new limitations with which to work, you can see what’s important in your poem. Giving yourself a set number of syllables to use per line or using a different alliteration per line can be a fun way to play with different sounds!
Gimme more methods!! (please I’m desperate)
I love the idea of a hyperextended line. From the Greenberg reading in A Broken Thing, I gathered that the hyperextended line exists in a place of building: being that a line’s train of thought will continue over two or more lines either to add meaning or build upon what was previously said; a collection of thought separated into lines that break (more or less). The inclusion of a few different examples helped my understanding in this, but I’m worried that the hyperextended line, though creative and insightful, offers a thread of messiness that might deter some readers.
No one will admit it, but it’s refreshing to read “easy” poetry at times (easy is, of course, a temperamental term that renders multiple meanings, but essentially, everyone wants a poem that they can read without too much effort). It follows a narrative thread, or lines are broken with the flow of speaking; at the very least, the reader is able to feel a sense of accomplishment by having finished reading a poem. The hyperextended line is a direct defiance of this, asking the reader to break the flow of speech for emphasis or duality within the reading. It makes the reader pause and re-read, and maybe re-read again.
I’m all about it. Give me multiple meanings, give me enjambment. But while reading these examples of the hyperextended line in the Greenberg reading, I have to admit, I can see how the average poetry reader might get tired of reading the same method of writing over and over again. They might hate having to reread the same line 9 times to get an idea of authorial intent.
What do you think? In the realm of popularized poetry that’s built to sell and remain accessible to a vast group of people, do you think certain styles do better than others? I’m worried we’ve began to forsake creativity for the preference of accessibility.
***It’s funny. I just finished reading the following reading for this week, the Zucker essay, and she brings in the troubles of money and poetry. Definitely give that one a read even though it gives me little to hope for as a poet!
Have any of you ever tried writing songs?
I’ve tried in the past but it always ends up leading to a really cool poem even though some might argue that they’re the same medium. My problem comes with the classic format of a song: verse, chorus, second verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, and then an epic guitar solo that wraps the whole thing up.
How do you decide the chorus? Does that comes first and then you build the song around it? Or do you come up with instrumentals and find the words that fit best?
I know that there are a million ways of going about it, I’m just curious to hear personal experiences with songwriting. I don’t play a “rock band” instrument so I think that holds me back (unless any of you wanna hear a killer french horn solo from someone that hasn’t played consistently since high school).
I came across this cute lil quiz from Penguin and I wanted to share. It tells you what punctuation mark you are and gives you a book recommendation for kicks (or for their sales, whatever). Anyway, I love the literary world.
What Punctuation Mark Are You?
I got “Quotation Marks” and its description is: “We quote to adequately depict our innermost thoughts that we may not be able to verbalize. You’re a reflective and gentle soul who enjoys curling up with a good book. Read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, a disturbing and fascinating tale.”
So, now is about the time we get to writing reviews in class. It’s pretty cool that we’ll be able to read an entire collection of poetry and give it our harsh opinions. It’s like the workshop event of published works that we’ve always wanted.
I’ve participated in a few literary reviews before but I had a few questions about the literary review scene: namely, how do you get published? We’re always reading reviews in the New York Times and our local papers and I often hold those reviews in high regard; they must have the qualifications to judge something like this, so whatever they say is right.
It’s weird. What gives me the right – an undergraduate student who prefers fiction – to review anyone’s work as an unpublished nobody.
So how do we feel about writing poems about the holidays? I tried writing a Christmas poem a couple years back because I was just so taken by the Christmas spirit, and it wasn’t too bad, but reading it after the holidays, I realized it seemed cliche and contrived. I’ve wanted to talk about this for a while and I feel like the blog, where a bunch of writers both in Geneseo and out, can add their input. Do we like holiday poems? Should I just stick to seasons and thunderstorms like a true poet?
I’ve read a couple poems centering around the holidays, but it seems like they always deal with a larger theme, with like, the holiday in the background. Is that the key?
Or should I just embrace the fact that I want to become the Michael Buble of Christmas poems?
Can I just say that I’m so excited we’ve finally strayed from lines breaks and white space as a topic of suspense/tension!? I’ve been stuck there for so long, reading every poem I’ve come across as a form of suspense, since that’s where my mind has been locked for so long, even before Prof. Lytton’s class on the line!
The first two poems in this section, Burnett’s Refuge Wear, and Nezhukumatathil’s Two Moths finally broke the suspense that I’ve been making for myself. Thank goodness, because I thought I was starting to lose hope. These poems utilized white space within the lines, which adds breath into the poem instead of at the end of the line. These poems used white space in a way that was better for promoting cohesion versus tension: combining ideas by juxtaposing them next to each other with white space.
It was just so refreshing to get out of the field of suspense. I feel so much less tense.
Okay. So we have the left side of the page, right? That’s where most of our poems start. Martha Rhodes mentions in her essay in A Broken Thing that she tends to stay to the left side of the page in the fear of her writing sounding to wordy or rambling when she begins to stretch to the right. The left side of the page is safe. The left side of the page is quick and neat and, as we read from left to right, sensical.
I’m only going to talk about poems that are situated to the left and the right side of the page. More abstract poetry works differently here and, for the sake of emphasis, I’m only going to talk about juxtaposing ways of writing (ie. right and left).
It got me thinking about white space and what white space does when we write starting from the left. The physical margin of the poem is close to the edge of the page, so when it begins, it’s like the words are forming from nothing. It’s a natural start to the poem. It’s a neutral location, one that we’re used to experiencing. We’re not distracted by white space beforehand: it’s just the reader and the word. The end of the line, here, also makes sense, especially in regard to line breaks. We have this beautiful yawning space of white following our caesuras and breaks and pauses and it serves to heighten the intimacy with which the reader experiences the break. When writing from the left side of the paper, the white space functions as a contextual and emphatic way to strengthen the meaning of the poem, whether the poet realizes it or not.
The right side of the page works in a different way. At the start of the line, this aforementioned yawning space acts becomes more than a neutral zone; it’s this overwhelming statement and the poem becomes this invading force that strikes the reader without them realizing it. It serves as a dreamy space that cannot be ignored by the reader. It says something. From the absence of nothing, comes something: the poem. Following that, we don’t have this break that serves to highlight the end of the line. We aren’t left to sit and mull over the lines final thoughts because suddenly the page is done and you simply have to go to the next line because all that’s left after is paper, then table, then the rest of the world, but you want to stay locked in this beautiful poem so your eyes are scrambling to be welcomed back to this white space followed by the start of another beautiful line.
Then you can take a breath.
Let me know what you think! Please contradict me or agree or just say that I have no point in the matter and everything I said is complete nonsense.
Reading Annie Finch’s chapter in A Broken Thing titled, “Grails and Legacies: Thoughts on the Line,” reminded me of the first poetry workshop I took while at Geneseo. We studied the poetics of sound and what sound does in a poem. In regard to this workshop, I think it’s incredibly beneficial to mention how sound can work across the line and tie different thoughts together while still making an appealing auditory quality for the reader.
Alliteration and (half-)rhymes are often the easiest, and most common, way to do this. Finch, herself, mentions the importance of this by the first stanza of William Carlos Williams’ poem as an example: so much depends / upon. The stretch of the p sound across the line creates a more cohesive effect by pairing similar sounds together. It also renders the use of a one-word line, whereas the second line would not have felt as effective if the author used a synonym like “on.” Also, it just sounds cool.
Sometimes, words sound cool paired together because they have similar sounds. If you’re feeling jammed, just brain-storming cool pairings or off-beat phrases can help. I guess this is also a weird way to call back to my revision post and answer my own question.
Lemme know what you guys think!
I love the recommendations I get from my peers in Workshop. In regards to my line breaks, I’ve been given suggestions for my specific pieces that really make them into a more cohesive unit; the breaks are lush with hesitation now, provide a sense of emphasis that I’ve glossed over. But I wish I came to these conclusions myself.
Throughout my college career, one of my biggest issues regarding my poetry resides in the inability to revise a piece in a completely new way. I get stuck to the “darlings” I’ve created. And more often than not, workshop rounds in college tend to offer good, if not invaluable, suggestions to the pieces in which I’ve presented them. Unfortunately, I’ve only witnessed a few of my peers in the last 3+ years suggest radical revisions to the pieces we go over, or provide any revision techniques that might aid us in the future.
Besides the bare-bones techniques we were introduced to at the start of our careers as undergraduate students, revision is this ubiquitous idea that exists in a state of obscurity; which technique should I use that will truly help take this piece to the next level? The answer is unhelpful: any of them can help your future writing. This vague sense of infinite possibilities can seem welcoming to some, but to writers like me, I have forgotten what revision can be. Eventually, we’ll leave college and we won’t have an arsenal of poets waiting for us in class on Mondays and Wednesdays, ready to offer A+ suggestions. We’ll have to revise on our own, and I seem to have forgotten how to do that with my poetry.
I was inspired by the reading by Espinoza in Rosko’s A Broken Thing. Here, he talks about an undergraduate professor who led them through a revision exercise that involved physically chopping up the poems the students had written in an attempt to reimagine the works. It was a process, which stuck out to me. They had to look at one of the scraps of paper each day. Espinoza ended up completely tossing his.
I guess, at the end of my long rant, my question is this: how can we re-learn how to revise when our old techniques are no longer working?