Rob on Process

Rob Mackenzie’s four posts on How (Not to Write a Poem), found here, here, here and here, together with Messalina‘s reference to it here, have got me thinking now about the revision process and whether I should follow suit with a poem under revision.

My problem is I work really slowly (because I’m afraid of boredom, I have many projects on the go at the same time, and the result is that they take their time in finishing. The good side is that when they are finished I’m often pleased with them, so I don’t complain. I do worry about sudden death though, and the orphaning of all my oeuvre. But more of that later. Or never, as the case may be).

Lily Campbell and the Dead‘s what I really want to finish, and there are several draft poems in that series that require tightening, fashioning, and so on — poems whose reception have highlighted issues that may or may not be soluble right now. Most of them have been worked on for over two or three years — I started the series five years ago now — and the change in my style is evident as time goes on. What’s a little nerve-wracking is that the latest four — “The Carpenter Seals Lily’s Widowhood“, “The Youngest Bridles Lily’s Hands“, “The Dancer Asks for Lily’s Heart“, and “The Granddaughter Sings Lily Home” came out close to fully-formed, though they all need some work to be finished. On the other hand, “The Preacher Man Saves Lily’s Soul” is a work in progress that is nearing completion to my satisfaction, though this response to the latest draft on PFFA gave me pause.

Which raises the question of critique, what it achieves, how one responds to it/incorporates it into one’s work, and how one moves on. But that’s another story.


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