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?