Friday, August 19, 2005

A Poet's Perspective on Revision.

A friend of ours wrote recently in response to our comments about revision:

"I often dip into a book entited, Haiku, Volume 1 Eastern Culture. It's one of four volumes written by R.H. Blyth, an expert on Japanese culture and haiku in particular.

"This morning I came across the following passage and wanted to share it with you:

"'Issa is well known, in spite of his fluency and the large number of verses he
produced, to have revised his poems over months and years; for instance, the

A huge firefly
Passes by.

"'This verse is the result of many revisions, but the final version appears artlesss and the work of a moment.

"'This revision of verse is a revision of experience. The experience had matured in the words of the haiku so that he came to know what he should have wanted to say.'"

"I just thought this was fascinating--and true.

"It's quite often that I'll rework and rework a poem until it teaches me what I wanted to say originally...until I can get close as possible to the nugget of truth of the moment, of the experience that initially made me sit down to write the poem."

What's interesting and true, too, is how the process of revision not only helps you find what you want to say. Sometimes it reveals something new and unexpected... and takes you off in an entirely different direction.

And yet that direction is somehow where you're meant to be.

What about other writers?

Do you have revision stories to share? Places that you found only because you spent the time and effort revising your poems and stories?

Why not share your experiences with other Wordswimmers?

Let us know what you've found.

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