Revise, Revise and Revise…

I’ve been working on revising several poems that I drafted about a year ago. This is pretty typical for me. I think of an idea, I write a first draft, sometime a second or third and then I let it sit for “awhile.” Sometimes it’s just a few days, sometimes a few weeks or months and sometimes it’s a year. The good news is that I have a lot of ideas. The bad news is that finished drafts can be slow in coming to fruition. 

I am reminded of my slowness by three of my poems  that appeared today in Rust + Moth. I wrote all three of these poems while I was a graduate student at the University of North Texas. They were drafted and revised and eventually included in my thesis. I finished that program in December 2005. I returned to one of the poems, “Song,” while enrolled in my MFA program at Murray State University. I think this was one of the first poems I brought to workshop (maybe?), so it was sometime in 2007-2008. This month, October 2013, these three poems finally found a home.
Rust + Moth Autumn 2013 
When I think back to the time that I was writing these poems, it was a turbulent period for me. I had graduated from Allegheny College, packed a U-Haul and moved down to Texas to enroll in a graduate program. I didn’t know anything about Texas. I didn’t know anyone in Texas. By the middle of my first semester of graduate school, I was also convinced I didn’t know anything about poetry, literature or being a scholar. In fact, I was pretty sure that it was only a matter of time before I called it quits and went home. However, I’m a stubborn soul (I think it might be that “Yankee” in me that everyone in Texas kept referring to whenever I opened my mouth) and I refused to give up. I knew I was homesick and I also knew that I had to suck it up and move on. I met my friends Natalie and Sam and Michael and Crystal and Terry. I soon realized that half the people I was in class with (people just mentioned excluded) didn’t really know what they were doing either, so we were all in the same boat and that made it less lonely. I started exploring my surroundings more and I found that I liked Denton. I remember walking across campus one night and pausing beneath a tree and hearing a chorus of birds. It was comforting and it was beautiful, so I went home and and wrote the first draft of “Song.” I remember reading Anna Akhmatova in workshop and being so intrigued by her work, and “Stargazer” came as a result of that interest.  Finally, sitting out on the stone steps during a break from class, surrounded by cigarette smoke, I looked up to see huge seed pods hanging from the trees. Obviously, the ideas in all three poems evolved and deepened from the first image, but I feel a certain a sense of completion to know that they are finished and out in the world for other people to read. 

A Day Spent At Home Writing

I’ve spent the entire day at home revising poems, reading poetry and occasionally asking my fuzzy pup, Kweli, if he thinks a certain line or word sounds right. He has very discerning taste. My two Zebra Finches, Humphrey & Pip, just chirp at me whenever I speak to them.

What a lovely day it has been to stay in my house and work. Actually, this week overall has been pretty great. Two fellow poets from Murray had work published this week: Karissa Knox Sorrell & Pamela Johnson Parker. These are wonderful poems and you should read them.