Q. for the Poet
" ... I enjoyed your poems and your readings in class. I never knew that the
revision process was so intense. I have written many poems and to be honest I've only revised two of them. For some reason I can’t get myself to revise them or change them. I like them the way they are. When I wrote those poems I wrote them just to have fun. ... Maybe someday I will like to write a poem book and include some poems but how will I be able to revise them if I think they are just fine the way they are. Thank you so much for sharing your revision process I know that it’s really going to help me!"
There is no rule that says you have to revise your poems. If you like them, then you should keep them as is. Nothing wrong with that.
But, if you decide to publish a book of poems, you’ll have to be much harder on your work because your publisher will be merciless. Revision is a necessary step in the publication process. And if your poems are good, which I think they are, they will stand up to whatever you do to them. Here are some suggestions for approaching the revision process.
- Put your poems away for a while and then look at them with fresh eyes. Are they as good as you once thought? This is your opportunity to make your images accurate and unique, and to cut any extra words that may slow the poem down.
- Read your poems out loud—to yourself. That’s a good way of hearing the rhythms in your work. Chances are, if you stumble on a word or phrase, you should look consider revising.
- Have another writer read your work. It’s hard to be objective while you’re working so closely on them, so have someone you trust take a look.
Maybe there’s a better word or line break that will open new possibilities to the reader. You’ll never know until you sit down to take a second look at your poems. Hope that helps.
Keep those questions coming!