Poetry: When Revision Happens

Over at the National Writing Project Studio space, the host (Mitch N) of a group of teachers-poets has been providing us with inspiration and ideas around drafting and revising poems. As someone who writes quick and hits publish on small poems nearly every morning, my initial reaction to working on a longer poem, over many days, with multiple revisions … is that I am on unfamiliar ground when it comes to intentional and extended revision practice. (So says the writing teacher!)

But I have jumped in, and my third poem of the summer — Sorting The Pieces — comes after our host, Mitch, shared a quote from Annie Dillard about writing, about what gets left behind and how to find a path through a writing draft. I was writing a poem about lost threads, in a way.

In an effort to track and reveal the work that I did on the poem over a series of days, as I kept returning to the draft of my poem, working and working and reworking it to get to a place where I sort of comfortable with it (at least enough to let it fly), I took a look at the Document History of my Google Docs, and grabbed screenshots of the work that I had been doing. (It would have been easier to use something like Etherpad with its timelapse tool but … I didn’t). I made note of how many edits I had done in each of the sessions of writing/revision.

I thought an audio reading of the poem would make a logical audio track to a video with all of the revision screens.


I’m not suggesting this poem is “done” but it’s done enough.

Peace (always in revision),

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