Friday, October 07, 2005

The Will to Tinker

Wednesday night I was at a workshop that was sponsored by the KC Public Library & Branching Out. The two poets conducting the workshop were Glenn North and Stacey Tolbert.

The workshop was worthwhile. I especially enjoyed North's poetry that was shared at the event. However, what I really wanted to focus on here was something that Stacey Tolbert recommended to me in an one-on-one break-out session.

We were looking at a poem of mine that had been written some time back. I had several with me and the one I chose for this purpose was a poem that won second place in a statewide contest earlier this year. As it turned out, I think this was an especially good selection. I suspect we all have pieces that we get so strongly attached to that we have a hard time messing with them any further. For the purpose of this post I'll call it a poem we are married to. It has that special attachment that you just don't want to think about rewriting anymore. Anyway... This was clearly a poem that I was married to. We all have them. Probably several. The fact that it did well in a contest even adds to the dilemma. You already have reached a point that you have stopped rewriting it. You sent it off. If was published or recognized in contest or both. This has now compounded the matter. You thought it was finally what you wanted. Then, someone else validates your feeling that this is really great. Then someone in a workshop says, "What if..."

Well, this is two days later and I am exploring the notion that it might not really be so sacrilegious to take her advise. So starting tomorrow, I'm going to look at this same poem from a different perspective. Each day for the next week, I am going to look at trying to say the same thing differently.

Stacey for example thought the two last lines of the poem were so powerful. But she wondered for example what would happen if instead of ending the poem with them, I chose to start with those two lines. Well, I don't know how I'll feel abut what I have five days from now, but I will look at each day creating one new version of this same poem.

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