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Grandmother Spider looking down in her wisdom at my desk

Grandmother Spider looking down in her wisdom at my desk

My poetry class is drawing to close. Next Tuesday will be the last class, the last time to get together with this configuration of men and women.

I haven’t focused on something like this in a learning sense in quite a long time. Last year I took an online course in songwriting and while that required some discipline, feedback was  more random. And because it was online, it didn’t have quite the immediacy of perspective that meeting and discussing in person does.   In this class we distribute our poems to each other and get seven different perspectives and feedback.

One thing I am finding, and learning, is that have a practice does involve doing something, some writing, every day.  I count my blog posts in this, as blogging forces my writing to be concise. It’s not poetry but it is playing with words and that play, no matter in what form, seems to me to build a writer’s toolbox and makes writing overall stronger.

I am also learning a lot from other people’s approaches to language, form and words (duh!).  There are a couple of people in class who write rich and layered observations, frosting a concept with a depth of description.  The feedback I get from them often is a request for “more.”  Since my tendency is to be tight, even sparse in my language, this goes against my natural predisposition and I’m having an interesting time trying on approaches to satisfy this kind of reader.  Will I end up with a poem that satisfies their wishes? Maybe not but it’s provocative  to try it out.

To that end, and because I believe I’m not much of a reviser, I have been taking feedback from my poet colleagues and applying it in different ways to my work.  I’ll take a poem I’m working on, examine the “common” comments and the singular ones to see how the pieces might change. Then I apply my personalized discernment to see what changes might fit my self.

Here’s an example

Original

Space
When immersed in thought I conjure
the very back of the stage,
those bricks a toughened skin protect
the hidden work within.
There’s something there imbued into the air
something of the  long dead men
who once paraded in, perfecting sacred art
remote from the mundane.

The thin wall between the ritual and the act
As porous as a membrane.

This was a time when candles blazed,
the smoke and soot of many lights embossing
scent in wings and flys.
And murmurs stole about the seats and stairs
echoed voices now archaic there.

The catwalk recedes a thousand miles it seems

and touches stars beyond the ceiling of the stage.
The ghosts of memory gather
at some certain lines
drawn to the dark corners where the dust of magic settles.

Faintly, you see them taking shape, waiting

Feedback (in bold)

Space  change title, not sure title gets it. Orient to poem more.

When immersed in thought I conjure is this sentence relevant (2 comments)
the very back of the stage,
those bricks a toughened skin protect seems a bit awkward
the hidden work within.

New stanza??There’s something there imbued into the air
something of the  long dead men
who once paraded in, perfecting sacred art
remote from the mundane. redundant?

The thin wall between the ritual and the act
As porous as a membrane. Expand on this?

This was a time  be more specific when candles blazed,
the smoke and soot of many lights embossing
scent in wings and flys. couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of scent being embossed
And murmurs stole about the seats and stairs
echoed voices now archaic there. make this the first stanza?
This didn’t work for me, mainly the word “stole”

The catwalk recedes a thousand miles it seems
and touches stars beyond the ceiling of the stage.
The ghosts of memory gather
at some certain lines try taking this out. OR get more specific, what are the lines.
drawn to the dark corners where the dust of magic settles.
Faintly, you will see them taking shape,
waiting. what is the “them”

can you incorporate something about “light of day” into the poem.
What are “they” waiting for?
 
I wonder what the sacred art is and why there is this wall between ritual and the act.
Loose the tie to the theater

And with my chosen revisions
Hallowed

In this space,
the bricks, a toughened skin
still protect some
hidden work within.

There’s something there imbued into the air
something of the  long dead men
who once paraded in, perfecting sacred art
remote from the mundane.

The thin wall between the ritual and the fact
a porous membrane.

This was a time when candles blazed,
The smoke and soot of countless lights infusing
scent in wings and flys.
And murmurs stole  slipped about the seats and stairs,
echoed voices now archaic there.

The catwalk recedes a thousand miles it seems
and touches stars beyond the ceiling.
The ghosts of memory gather
drawn to the dark corners where the dust of magic settles.

Faintly, you see them taking shape,
waiting.
I have a lot to learn about revision and polishing and would like to get to the point of doing this more naturally on my own.  It goes against my penchant to want to come up with new work. Although I know that I do some revision even as I’m working on a first draft the polishing process could be intensified.

When I write dances for my dance group I usually have an image in my head of how I think things are going to work.  I find that I have to try it out with the bodies in real space to find the glitches and to see what really is possible.  The “editing” happens then, after the piece hits real time.  I can get pretty close in my minds-eye but not perfect.  The “real-time” of poetry is when the words hit the reader.  There can be no poetry without her. I can see where getting my internal reader separated from me as a writer could strengthen the whole shebang.  Or I could cultivate the perfect reader (besides my dear husband).

So I’m curious, as a writer, blogger, poet how do you approach revision.  Is it something that comes naturally or. How have you managed to cultivate your internal reader/editor? Or do you rely on others?

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