How To Write and Edit Poetry

The actual title of the piece at the Poetry Foundation, “The Warmth of the Messy Page“, is better.

No matter what your approach, engaging in revision will help you see your work more clearly and help you discover more of what you meant and sometimes what you didn’t even know you meant. The word itself says so: re-vision. To see again, to see better. Getting back into work that felt complete may seem daunting—why mess it up again?—but always leads to deepening the poem itself and your own skill in the craft of writing. You will see your work newly each time you come back to it with the willingness to explore further possibilities. It can even be a lot of fun.

Agreed.

New Summer Poetry

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Over the course of that rainy muddy monsoon that was the summer of 2018, I wrote some poems, cheap, messy, quick, and therefore true. I consider it an expression of this idea I call Suburban Zen, which I have not fully defined. It’s closer to Zen that way.

It’s a Kindle-exclusive, and it’s 99 cents. You know what to do.

This is my second such collection. The other one, Stir, was longer and composed over a longer period of time.

I am likely to keep doing this. There’s an ease an a gratification in making such small offerings. They keep the juices flowing.

I Don’t NaNoWriMo, But I Do Self-Publish

I’m definitely an agnostic on National Novel-Writing Month. I’m not down on it, and if someone wants to take the moment as a inspiration to create, I’m the last guy to wrinkle my nose at such. Write, you guys. Write like the wind.

But I also don’t participate. I’ve got a few reasons for this:

  1. I Can’t Write a Novel in a Month. Based on past experience, it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve got a job and a house and a family. I consider having finished The Sword as fast as I did an achievement, and I had to abandon that several times, because reasons. Trying to squeeze one out in 30 days just isn’t realistic for me.
  2. I Don’t Like Being Told When to Create. Call it a mental habit or even a mental block, but trends annoy me. Jumping on a bandwagon because everyone else is doing it makes some part of me not want to. I want to create according to my own time and schedule. I want to set my own goals, and then meet them. Again, if you find NaNoWriMo useful, good for you. I personally don’t.

That being said, I have some plans for this November. First of all, I’m planning on rolling out some new covers on my back catalog, including giving Solar System Blues a hardcover edition. Second, I have some new poems I want to offer up in a ebook-exclusive collection, as it’s likely to be shorter than Stir. All of them were written this past year. Planned title: The Short Cool Summer.

Watch this space.

Poetry Blather: William Carlos Williams’ Red Wheel Barrow

I am sometimes frustrated by poems that do not say what they mean.

Consider this.

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

As an exercise in imagery, it works very nicely. You can see it in your mind. And as an exercise in rhythm, it’s nearly hypnotic.

But what
the gibbering hogwash
does it mean?

By which I mean, I need the first line explained to me. What depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens? What, and why is there so much of it? I get the whole “no ideas but in things” dictum, but we have the things. They are clearly spelled out. What are the ideas in them? That so much depends on them? But that doesn’t tell me anything.

Mary Oliver:

Perhaps Williams is implying that the imagination comes alive in the world of things–of objects. Perhaps he is saying that the poem, to become radiant, needs images, and images always involve things.

This is plausible. But only plausible. It is speculation. It is “Perhaps”. And that drives me back to non-communication. If you’re not telling me what you mean, implicitly or explicitly, while telling me that it means something very much indeed, then my instinct is to roll my eyes and proclaim you a purveyor of obtusity or offal.

And maybe the point is that the Great Something in Things cannot be communicated. That’s fine. But I hate guessing at it.

Changes in Tablo Prompt The Rise of Poetry

Since I last made updates, Tablo has made large structural changes to how it publishes and distributes books. Consequently, I’ve had to make some changes as well.

The big takeaway is paperback publishing and retail distribution is now available. Given that the prices seem to be per year, per book, rather than a one-time fee, I’m not certain whether it’s worth the outlay (even if I just do the e-book distribution, if I have 5 books published there, that’s $500 per year. I’ve got that many titles on Amazon right now, and it doesn’t cost me a dime).

However, the more important change to me right now is the update to the Writer Software. It’s fancier now, but it’s lost a feature that I used to quite like: the ability to manually select to have some chapters of a book available to read and other, unfinished chapters, not. Now anything you upload and update is available for viewing, as a whole.

Which is fine. But it does change my small works-in-progress. Consequently, I have ended the availablity for Chemical Angel, which was just posted. But I’ve added something new…

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It’s not all of it, but it’s the first few from the years 2005-2106 that made the cut. I’ll be adding some more recent works over the course of the next year. Consider it an ongoing project. Click here to read some of my more experimental scribbles.