friday roundup: free poetry, ‘a smell of the sea,’ and to know again

It’s Friday morning, early. All my people are sleeping. I have nothing planned today for the first time all week. I’m at my desk and happy to be at my desk and planning to stay at my desk most of the day – joy! And now, Reader, it’s roundup time.

free poetry  For the last few years, poets and poetry lovers across the blogosphere have participated in the Big Poetry Giveaway during poetry month. Poet-blogger Kelli Agodon Russell is the wizard behind the curtain for this event. I’m mixing up the formula a bit this year to give away one book of poetry and one subscription to a lit mag (rather than two books). Stay tuned for details on how to win free poetry.

a smell of the sea Many poets and lovers of poetry are mourning the loss of Adrienne Rich who died this week. In her life and in her poetry, Rich was a feminist, an advocate for the marginalized, and a person who put her money where her mouth was. I admire her activism, and I’m grateful for her poetry. I can’t imagine my life without these words: “A wild patience has taken me this far.” Rich’s death made me think of a poem by Denise Levertov, “September 1961,” which explores the subject of the world losing important artists, and the feeling of those left behind, “alone on the road”: “we wonder // how it will be without them… .” I love that this poem ends with a smell of the sea — place of endings (the end of the land, the vast somewhere where many have been buried) and a place of beginnings (the source of life on earth, for example). Read “September 1961” here (you will have to scroll down a bit).

And then click over to Kathleen Kirk’s blog. She wrote a wonderful piece about the experience of being an artist in the world, and reflects on Adrienne Rich’s directive, “You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.”

to know again Yesterday, I wrote about revision from a philosophical point of view. I want to say just a bit more about that before moving on to more practical notes on revision. If we look at the etymology of the word revision we see that it comes from the PIE weid, “to know, to see.” And from the Latin re-, “back to the original place, again,” also with a sense of “undoing” (source here).

If we approach revision literally, then, we must know (or see) a poem again. We must go back and undo.

I happen to think this is the very hardest thing about revision because it’s easy to become attached to those words we already have on the page. Again, time and the Resting Drawer enter the mix. But I’ve also had good success and lots of fun by revising through re-drafting, by holding on to the idea and the impulse of a poem (and maybe even a few key phrases), but writing it over and over again, differently each time. Once you’ve re-seen to your satisfaction, other revision strategies can enter the mix. The Mail Order Bride’s letter home came out of several rounds of redrafting. Have you tried re-drafting as a revision strategy?

Ok, that’s the roundup. I’ve gone on longer than I intended. Also, none of my people are sleeping anymore. It’s on to the next phase of the day. Happy Friday to you, and thanks for reading.

5 thoughts on “friday roundup: free poetry, ‘a smell of the sea,’ and to know again

  1. Molly,
    I am intrigued with the idea of redrafting. As one who holds close to the original poem, revision can often feel more like tinkering and less like rethinking. Your process of ‘writing the poem over’ is a great idea, and one I will try. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome. It can be really hard to turn away from the original draft. Sometimes I coax myself into redrafting by saying to myself, “I’m just going to play around with this a little.” Somehow that makes it easier for me.

  2. Pingback: NaPoRevMo and the usual suspects | the stanza

  3. Pingback: on revision: darlings, poetry hairballs, getting better gas mileage, and surgery. or, the useful. | the stanza

  4. Pingback: on revision: surgery, funhouse mirrors, and abandoning ship. or, the radical. | the stanza

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