Monday, July 16, 2007


I've been thinking about poetry again, thinking mainly about how I haven't been writing any. It isn't unusual for me to go six months to a year without writing a scrap of poetry, but not much longer than that. I guess it's been about five months now.

As luck would have it, I also read about a local poetry contest. I entered it once back in 2003. I have better poems now, with stronger themes and clearer imagery, so I just spent the last hour digging through my files and picking four to submit. As luck would also have it, only one was within the line length, so I did some editing.

I enjoying editing poems, though it always hurts more to delete a line of verse than a sentence in prose. I'm usually more than happy to delete a sentence of prose. You might go as far as to say I get giddy with anticipation. But poetry is different. I labor over those individual lines far longer than it takes me to jot out a sentence. So there is always a growing pain when it comes time to delete.

Take my Indiana farmhouse poem. I loved the imagery in the first stanza, comparing the house to dandelion wine, but honestly, the first stanza was the weakest of the lot, with unclear structure toward the end and no real comparison to the rest of the poem. It hurt to delete that image, but the poem is stronger now, tighter and more focused. And it has the right opening line, finally. If this farmhouse spoke it would sound like him . . .

"Why Housecats Nap" got a bit of a face lift, too, with tightened lines. It reads better. And "Reflections" ended up with a changed line, the line that always bothered me, but the end word was the best fit to the rhyme scheme and I could never figure out how to fix the rest until today. That isn't unusual for me and tradition verse. Takes a few years, but eventually I end up with a sound poem.

"Fog" will need to cleaning up, too, but it's one of my newest and I need to let it seep a bit longer.

But in a few weeks, or maybe next week, I'll print off the copies and put them all in the mail and see how I fair. I don't enter many contests anymore, maybe one every couple of years. I should do more now that I have so many poems to work with and only a handful of which have seen publication. Maybe I could work up to one or two every year. Might encourage me to write a bit more poetry again.

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