*** Re-published. The introduction in the original which was published this past weekend was just too snarky. ***
There is so much smugness in the fancy-ass world of modern day poeming.
Have you ever fancied yourself just a cut above, and pride yourself on the fact that you (think you)…
- Never need to edit;
- Never need to revise;
- Never read or re-read your own work;
- Never need to proofread;
- Never need to consult a dictionary;
- Deny ever using a thesaurus (because we all know that the thesaurus is a total non-tool for writing improvement);
- Always admit that your poems are crap (and maybe they wouldn’t be if you followed the 5-step writing process… in any order);
- Cannot, for some bizarre reason, call yourselves “poets”… even though you write more poetry than Lord Byron ever did;
- Wear false modesty like a badge of honour.
It’s all spontaneous overflow of heightened elevated holier-than-Jesus human condition and emotions manifested in the all-hallowed written word with you (maybe us…?) non-thesaurus-using folks.
Not all of us little people are that dazzlingly flawless or genius. I am full of flaws and stupid shit.
But poetry isn’t only spontaneity. It is so much more complex and interesting than that. The spontaneity is just a small part of the process of growing a poem from seed.
That little seed of pure inspiration seeps into one’s being by some mysterious Aeolian propulsion played upon the air currents by the muses… whichever form they may take — person, memory, experience, feeling.
Once the seed implants, the dirty sweaty arousing toil of poeming begins for me… after the muses have blown their whispers into my moon-flecked skin or at least into my curls.
The crafting of the poem is what coaxes the little green sprout
That becomes the plant —
That becomes the bud —
That becomes the flower —
That becomes the enlightened fruit —
The final iteration before it is examined, deemed Grade A and acceptable for human consumption,
Or deemed Grade B, disposed of and burned directly in the field.
All of this miracle from a teeny tiny seed.
Sure, you can pop a seed into your mouth, and it might be ok, depending on the seed, I guess.
But why would you want to eat a watermelon seed when you can eat an entire watermelon — juice, flesh, seeds and all — on a sticky sweltering summer’s day?
Once I have harvested the fruit, taken a bite, and have written the damn thing to alleged completion, I re-read it obsessively, aloud and in my head. I roll it around on my tongue, smell it from different angles (downwind, upwind, right up close), stare at it from every fathomable vantage point, consider sketching it, steal words from it, throw new words at it, lick it, devour it or fuck it in front of a mirror….
Then I share a piece with you.
And I have been known to go back for seconds of my own work. I am always trying to grow and evolve and move past my own limitations. I don’t think I could ever be satisfied with a poem. Even if I am proud of it, there is always something that can be changed, re-visioned, tweaked….
And there is an infinite number of misplaced commas to delete or re-home.
Which is why I obsessively reread already published poems, and continue to tinker with them. I even fully re-write them, expanding the sentences, the narrative, the metaphors.
Sometimes I return to a poem but I am not the same person who initially wrote it… and somehow the poem needs to reflect my metamorphosis (but I keep the old and the new versions side-by-side so I don’t forget my own geneses and rebirths).
Because a poem is never really done for me. The inspiration to elevate it, elevate myself, to transform, to metamorphose, never ceases.
But if I ever publish in hard copy format…
*** Well, Toots, wasn’t that the snobbiest post you ever wrote…. Does it take pretension to know pretension? ***
*** Snobby poets are a pet peeve. Maybe I’m my own pet peeve… business as usual… but any self-proclaimed scribe of verse who says they don’t use a thesaurus yet gobbles every low-frequency word they can fit into their cheeks is a bit full of shit. That… or they don’t want the vast majority of people to even read their work… because they couldn’t without the Oxford English dictionary in hand… or at least nearby… every volume of it. ***