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More thoughts on drafting poems

  1. Most of what you write can be rewritten and made better, or at least returned to. Any idea, half idea, image or emotion, can be the start of a poem. W.B Yeats often distilled his poems from prose descriptions. According to John Whitworth, Yeats genius lay in his infinite capacity for ‘taking pains’.16257318563_a20d31cf5dYeats by Sean Cronln

    2. The imaginative mind captures the genesis of a poem. Another facet of the same imaginative mind revisits the words with an intense analytic focus. The drafting poet generally aims to control the expansive, to concentrate meaning by means of technique, discovering and learning technique in the process. The drafting poet is trying to confine the infinite, refine the crude and distill the dissolute. The (virtual?) impossibility of this task makes it exhilarating and frustrating by turns.

    3. The drafting poet should be invigorated by the vivacity of the poem. If the poem is dull at any point, how can the poet expect a reader to continue?

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    4.  A poem may take off well only to stall.  It may be under or over-powered. A poem may be repaired, rebuilt or completely redesigned . The re-launched poem may climb and bank well, but slight adjustments to airspeed and angle of approach will mean the difference between a smooth, bumpy or crash landing. Aerobatics are great, but take off and landing and level flight are all of equal importance.

    5. It isn’t necessary to know where a poem is going in order to begin to write.  Writing can let you find out what you think.

    6.Drafts may contain diffuse ideas, or ambiguous ideas or narratives.  It is exciting to turn your attention to the one idea that seems most important.
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7. When it comes to the appearance of a poem on the page, it is a good idea if form reflects content. Stanzas of equal length create a sense of order. Variable length might give a sense of organic development. One unbroken stanza might give the sense of narrative, or of continuous thought. These statements are open to debate.  The main thing is to have some notion of the expectation your poem shape generates. Gratuitous stanza choices and outlandish line breaks might affect the credibility of the poem. They may not. It is good to consider the reason for your choices.

8. It is alright to not write for long periods of time. It is not alright (unless illness prevents) to not live. Reading is good but living, (if you are a writer) gives rise to writing, eventually.

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