Robert Hamill

Poetry Revision

Another surprise for me was the prominence of poetry in the course.  I don’t have a very wide or discriminating taste in poetry and the course left the defining elements of poems quite broad.   The best I could glom from class and text is that poems don’t have to rhyme; they do need rhythm; they should have a sensory image which through linguistic devices can be tied to a abstract idea.  Diction should be precise, cognizant of connotations and removed of idiosyncratic nuances.  Density of meaning should be high.

That still leaves me with the question – why would I write a poem rather than a short story?    For my purposes, noting that poetry doesn’t require a story’s extensive characterization or conflict implies that ideas with numerous facets can be illuminated without as much overhead.  Why is poetry better suited than prose in these chases?  Because the human mind can only hold so many facets of an idea at one time.  In poetry, the facets of character and conflict can be minimized, leaving more mind space to apprehend the complex idea.   “Intuitive Logic” is my foray into that area.

Revision in poetry has been less successful for me. I don’t have a firm handle on the fundamental craft of rhythm and line. Everyone speaks at a difference cadence and with personal stress.

  • Check that I have sharpest, best, sensory image and that link to abstract idea is a firm as can be
  • Density of concept to word – much higher than prose; removal of all non-essential words
  • Check the precision of word choice with close attention to connotations that align with intent of poem
  • Rhythm important.  Since speaking pattern does not necessarily translate properly onto printed page, remove likely awkward constructions
  • Remove words and images that rely on personal, idiosyncratic memories


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