While perusing my poems again and beginning the revision process, I’ve realized that my poetry tends to be less thematic and more of a series of aurally pleasing sounds. I think that’s why, as a poet, I have a hard time giving up the sequence of words in a line if I really loved writing them. Therefore, the revision process is hard for me when I want to keep a line simply because it has a great rhythm or sound. I don’t know if this is helpful, but I’ve compiled the list of questions I ask myself when I’m in the process of revision and I really want to keep a line:
- Is the sound this line is achieving already echoed in earlier lines/stanzas?
- Is it possible to acquire that sound with another phrase?
- Will another phrase convey the same feeling you want to express without a loss of clarity?
- Will my poem be successful as a whole if I simply cut this word/line?
- Do any other lines in the poem reflect the content of this line, but in a different way?
- How often have you used that word in your poetry?
- When was the last time you took a look at a thesaurus? Try that.
- Will adding lines around this line/changing up the order of the lines and stanzas allow this line to do the work you want it to do?
- Read the poem aloud, does this line make your mouth do the work you want your reader’s mouth to do as it is read?
- Have others pointed out the flaws in this line? Have many people seen the same issue with this line?