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Have you ever, truly, finished a poem? - Roy Jerden's Blog

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Have you ever, truly, finished a poem?

Blog Posted:1/11/2014 6:23:00 PM
I guess when a poem is published in hard copy, you have to put it to rest, so to speak.

But here at least, we have the luxury of infinite edits. I found myself yesterday changing ONE word in an old poem after I had an e-mail exchange with a friend from high school. There was an old slang term that I wanted to use originally, but passed on because I was afraid it wasn't generally known. Then my friend used it in the e-mail. Well, that was enough.

I probably abuse edits more than anyone, as I usually publish a poem too early, maybe as soon as it is complete in terms of length. I hardly ever change the length, but I constantly go back and tweak words and lines to improve the meter and flow, add alliteration, find a more expressive term, etc. I'm sure it drives some people crazy when I have entered it into a contest already. If I make significant improvements, I will sometimes withdraw it and re-enter it, to be sure it gets read again.

But I also go back and revise poems that have been out there quite a while and maybe aren't even getting read. A word here, a word there, a title change, moving lines and stanzas around sometimes. Trying always to make it just a little better.

Basically, I can't leave them alone, like Leonardo and the Mona Lisa. (I'm comparing only the behavior, certainly not the talent.)

How about you?
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  1. Date: 1/18/2014 6:39:00 PM
    I never really finish a poem I write .i read it then reread it. Then post it and over the next few weeks or months go back and rewrite it.

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  1. Date: 1/14/2014 2:01:00 AM
    Once I have done the 'finishing touches' I do not make any more changes to a poem. However, every now and then I find a poem that I feel is lacking after I have already posted it and I end up completely deleting it (even when it has placed in a contest).

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  1. Date: 1/14/2014 12:49:00 AM
    I always do it - go back, read, sometimes change the literary form and all that, Roy

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  1. Date: 1/13/2014 7:45:00 AM
    I hardly ever go back and change mine...but I do sometimes. Actually, I rarely spend much time on any one poem at all. Something pops into my head, I write it down, and it's gone.

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  1. Date: 1/12/2014 3:30:00 PM

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  1. Date: 1/12/2014 1:57:00 PM
    Good stuff, Roy. I also can't leave my poems alone. Interestingly enough, a few people will actually get back to me saying how they enjoy a particular, original version better(I repost 'remixes'), that it's simply their taste. I oil paint as well, and I don't consider my paintings completed even if the paintings are now in the hands of someone my mind at least, even if I am sometimes wrong, a painting or poem can always evolve; transcend itself. Actually come to think of it, I pretty much regard life in general like that.

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  1. Date: 1/12/2014 4:22:00 AM
    I do it always to change an adjective or a noun. I have revised about more than a dozen poems that I wrote as back as the year 2000.

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  1. Date: 1/11/2014 7:30:00 PM
    I too always find something I can do to make it better if only in my mind ;).

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  1. Date: 1/11/2014 6:46:00 PM
    roy, I think it is good to make changes now and then!! I spend about two to three hours on longer poems (the first time I write them) and just keep thinking and thinking until I am sure I have things like I want them. However, especially with older poems, I find myself making small revisions to improve meter, etc. when I decide to post an old poem, for example. Just the other day, I spent a whole hour just trying to get ONE stanza right. geeez, However, practice does make perfect, and generally I don't take that long like I used to. Good blog!!

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