Poetry Challenge 49

Today a distant friend e-mailed me that she was reading a poem, “Bird News,”  from my new book, Beneath a Portrait of a Horse, and that it had her tongue-tied.  It’s always amazing to discover that someone sees what you intended in a poem–or sees more than you ever thought was there.  This was a poem I started years ago, tinkered with, abandoned, tinkered again, and finally included in the book, hoping that in made sense in somethingof the way I had hoped it would when I wrote the first draft.  Putting a book together allowed me to see old poems in new ways.  Sometimes just placing one poem next to another brought out some association I hadn’t noticed in the older poem and made it seem fresh once again.

So, go back and find an old poem you’ve stashed away somewhere.  Read it as if you were a distant reader, as if you had no idea where the poem originated or where it’s going.  Let yourself be surprised by the phrases that actually do turn out well–and do some housekeeping on the ones that fall flat.   Pare away.  Strengthen nouns and verbs.   Make short lines long, long lines short.  Or discover that the poem is actually a complete whole  that arose from the deepest awake places in your unconscious.

Post it here in the comments section–your oldies and actually goodies.  When I have a few posted here, I’ll post the poem my friend was reading, too!

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2 Responses to “Poetry Challenge 49”

  1. K.V. Douglass Says:

    I have so many old poems! But I’m ruthless in cleaning out the notebook and stashing whatever lines are still alive in a journal. But yes, putting them side by side does reveal the secrets.

  2. rachael Says:

    I do love that poem. A friend has had the book off of me, so I’m looking forward to reading it a second time. Poetry, for me, is like second day meatloaf. It’s a fine thing the first time through; but, I tend to finally get it when I’ve set it aside before the second read.

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