Sunday, October 17, 2004


This week, have been going through unpublished work, revising. Cutting out excess. Tightening. Changing words. Finding redundancies that previously seemed integral. Always the struggle of sound and sense: what may sound good causes us to overlook whether it makes sense, or can be read in unintended, detracting senses… Or on a more subtle level, one poem began well, even ended well, giving a sense of formal completion -- but somewhere along the way evaded the point, bifurcating into a clever word game (successful, perhaps, as a wordgame, but word game nevertheless) rather than drawing upon and developing the central feeling that brought out those strongest beginning lines. Emerging from all this: a greater sense of solidity, as the words - every word - is sharpened and considered… but when is the poem ever truly solid? There have been plenty of occasions of delusion along the way. The language is a palette of a million colours, and the colours of the poem can be changed instantly. (Much easier than say on a canvas…) That's the difficulty … but also the beauty & delight….
All this of course occasioned by the desire to send more work out, even a sense of pressure, as it's already mid-October, and I have very little out there…. and finding in the last few months that almost everything recent I planned to send has been marked with changes, strikeouts, etc. (a lot more than even I had realized). So it's really not ready. Ostensible reasons may be visibility, a growing list of credentials, etc. But in the meantime, sending out has at least one benefit: I am guaranteeing myself at least one more attentive reader … namely, myself.


Charles said...

I'm really awful about sending work out and then revising it later, even after it's been accepted. I'm getting better about it, though. I used to be unable to recognize when a poem was really "finished," but now I think I have more faith in them.

Good luck with submissions!

Brian Campbell said...

You think! Ha ha ha... I've been thinking so too. But we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves. I've seen many a book where the credits said something to the effect that "versions of these poems have appeared in such and such a review." Reviews are testing grounds... it's when it's in a book that the lice seems "trapped" in that poem. (Until you come out with with a "New and Selected (Revised)")-- which even Yeats did near the end of his life!