Friday, May 11, 2007

Poets on Revision

If you've ever found yourself discouraged by the prospect of revision, take heart from the insights into the revision process that poets share in Seeing the Blue: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko (Candlewick Press, 2002).

Here's a small sampling:

Naomi Shihab Nye: "Now I see revision as a beautiful word of hope. It's a new vision of something. It means you don't have to be perfect the first time. What a relief!"

Georgia Heard: "To revise is a poet's life. To see and then to see again is what a poet's life is all about. I revise my poems not for the sake of revising, but to clarify what I see with my eyes and what's in my heart."

Nikki Grimes: "Good poetry requires a great deal of revision! Most of my poems go through ten drafts, minimum. (Groan.) That said, if you don't write honestly, no one will care what your poem has to say, no matter how cleverly written or technically competent it is."

Adam Ford: "It's always exciting when a poem tumbles straight from your head onto the page, but sometimes it still needs a little extra work. It's a rare poem whose first draft is as good as it could ever be."

Bobbi Katz: "Be prepared to revise. And revise. And revise."

Lillian Moore: "I tend to write poems slowly because I enjoy seeking the right word and revising until I think I have it. For almost every poem I have written over the years there has probably been a wastebasket filled with rough drafts. Most of all, I want a poem to say what I really felt or saw or heard--that is, to be true."

Not all of the thirty-two poets seeking their own truths in this collection reflect on the revision process, but their thoughts--whether on revision or on creating poems--are a pleasure to read, full of helpful insights and encouragement for poets, young and old alike.

Take a look at the poets included in Seeing the Blue Between: Joseph Bruchac, Siv Cedering, Kalli Dakos, Michael Dugan, Robert Farnsworth, Ralph Fletcher, Douglas Florian, Adam Ford, Kristine O'Connell George, Nikki Grimes, Georgia Heard, Christine Hemp, Steven Herrick, Mary Ann Hoberman, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Andrew Hudgins, Bobbi Katz, X.J. Kennedy, Karla Kuskin, J. Patrick Lewis, George Ella Lyon, Lilian Moore, Lillian Morrison, Naomi Shihab Nye, Tom Pow, Jack Prelutsky, Liz Rosenberg, Alice Schertle, Marilyn Singer, Mark Vinz, Janet S. Wong, and Jane Yolen.

It's a wonderful collection of poets, isn't it?

Their poems and advice will inspire you--whether you are a poet or not--as you seek your own truths in the revision process

For more information on Paul B. Janeczko and his work, you can visit his website


HipWriterMama said...

These are great. Thanks for sharing them.

Bruce said...

Janeczko's done a remarkable job of putting together this collection.

If you like Seeing the Blue Between, you might enjoy the other collections that he's assembled, too.

Thanks for stopping by.

eisha said...

Hi, Bruce! What a great idea for a collection - I'll definitely have to look for this. Thanks for sharing!

Bruce said...

Janeczko's a gifted poet, and a gifted editor, too. Another one of my favorites is I Feel A Little Jumpy Around You, which he put together with Naomi Shihab Nye. Take a look when you get a chance.

Jack said...

Scanning the collection names, I recognize a couple of favorites: Nye; Fletcher ; Hopkins. I missed seeing our old faculty mentor, Ron Koertge ("Making Love to Roget's Wife").

Barbara W. Klaser said...

Those are insightful thoughts on revision, and applicable to all writing. Poetry can be so compact and precise, it's easy to not even consider that it's been through lots of revision to get that way. We see the pretty cake, not the messy batter. Thanks!

Bruce said...

Thanks, Jack, for stopping by.

And, Barbara, I enjoyed the way that you describe the writing process--revision as messy batter, the final draft as pretty cake. Thanks for that image.