The Twilight Zone
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  1. #1

    The Twilight Zone

    To write poetry I have to be in the zone, a poetic state of mind. And, despite the title I don't think of it or refer to it as 'the Twilight Zone', but that is something to me it is sort-of-like, but not.

    There is a state though, a poetic state of mind, that I have to be in to write poetry, and that state is not 24/7. It lasts maybe 20 minutes in a day, and those days sometimes don't happen for weeks at a time. For instance, right now. I'm not in it ( the poetic zone) and there will be no poetry ( today, as far as I know..).

    Now then, the reason I bring this up is because of a comment I just saw in the poetic workshop that said the poem had been crit'ed and re-written to blandness.
    The reason that struck me is that poetry ( for me) is all about (well, mostly about) (..as opposed to writing something concrete or factual) getting what caused my feelings, my impressions, down.

    Communicating a state of blandness is not at all what I'm after.

    So, getting back to it ( my point, sorry...)( ...and this is the point) for me at least, re-writing poetry successfully requires that I be in that zone, or the original inspiration and impression are lost. Unfortunately, I can't make myself get into that state. It's something that has to just happen. What comes out (barring a coma, or a simple word change) from my re-writes is not what I'd felt, and is usually without feeling. The inspiration is lost. For me, at that point, the whole point of writing poetry is then lost.

    Just thought I'd share.

  2. #2
    i get that....1st drafts of anything is were the work is at it's strongest and what comes after is just a polished version of the initial outburst...
    The only one who can heal you is you.




  3. #3
    Hey, Kevin...

    As I wrote the "blandness" reply to a poem's revision, thought I'd interject, but had to think about it a lot first.

    I do believe there is a poetry zone that is unique. And, I absolutely must be in it. There is a local poetry workshop that I do not attend simply because they meet, someone picks a topic, then each writes a poem, on the spot. They keep asking me to attend. I expect I would have a blank paper. And, I wouldn't care. And, care is the operative word. I must care, really care, about what I want to say. And, usually it is the first line that pops into my head, while doing something else, that drives me. I write it down immediately. Oddly enough, the poem can end up where I had not intended to go. It has a life of its own. Really. Maybe a poem, as opposed to other writing, is born at the subconscience level. It can't be forced.

  4. #4
    Kevin,

    Regarding rewriting one's own work.

    Yes, the original passion shouldn't be lost. I call that the bones of a poem. It holds it up, makes it resonate. But, then revision should make it real (not just technically correct), which is often missing in a first write. The real passion can be found in the revision.

    My recent posted poem in workshop ("I've kept your hat, dad") added the real later: contour chair (as opposed to chair); St. Louis; Mississippi (as opposed to any river); Detroit; varicose (as opposed to veins); cardboard covered (as opposed to broken), Eisenhower; and specific comic strip, etc. The details.

    My first draft, without the details, some might think good. It wasn't.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by sas View Post
    Kevin,

    Regarding rewriting one's own work.

    Yes, the original passion shouldn't be lost. I call that the bones of a poem. It holds it up, makes it resonate. But, then revision should make it real (not just technically correct), which is often missing in a first write. The real passion can be found in the revision.

    My recent posted poem in workshop ("I've kept your hat, dad") added the real later: contour chair (as opposed to chair); St. Louis; Mississippi (as opposed to any river); Detroit; varicose (as opposed to veins); cardboard covered (as opposed to broken), Eisenhower; and specific comic strip, etc. The details.

    My first draft, without the details, some might think good. It wasn't.
    my later revisions are usually awful for the reasons I've stated. I rewrite as I write, and then I'm done. It had better work, or it doesn't, period. I can't force it. And then I'm really done with it.

  6. #6
    Kevin, if you rewrite while you write and then you're done, what is the point of offering your writing in a workshop for critique? I think the assumption in most workshops is that any poem can be better and different perspectives give the author a chance to see his work in different light. We all learn from each other and we learn the most when it's our own work that's under scrutiny. There is, of course, the danger in workshops for a culture to develop, with rules, in which everyone's poetry starts to look/sound the same and that is the death of art. I recently read a comment by an editor who also judges contests and he said that after reading hundreds of poems he can tell when a poet is trying to sound like other poets. He says that most of the submissions he reads sound the same. He discards these without reading to the end. What he is looking for is the poet's authentic voice and he stresses that a poet must never forget that. The late Robert Kroetsch said a similar thing to me one time. he said "Use your own voice. There is no other."

    That being said there is value in rewriting. We distill our thoughts through the writing process. But the initial effort is often loaded with peripheral stimulus, digression and extraneous baggage. Or we skim over a thought that really needs to be unpacked in the poem. I often don't know what my poem is about until I write the last word and somethimes it's days before I really understand what I've written. We tend to overwrite in the beginning and the end. We don't always get our thoughts in the best order, initially. When rewriting we often find better ways to express what might be over written or cumbersome. It's true that the poet should strive to keep their original passion. This is also the case when reading critique of your own poem. It's you who has written the poem and often the critics have no better reason for their ciritique than to say it's the way they write. Well, excuse me, but that's not the goal here. in fact anytime you read critics who advise you to change something because it's the way they write, you should flat out ignore them. It's bad advice. On the other hand, there is good technique and there is bad technique and any poet can improve if he allows others to point that out without letting his ego get bruised.
    Last edited by TL Murphy; February 12th, 2018 at 05:47 AM.

  7. #7
    TL-
    why post? Mm- now, this I'd personally why...
    to see if it successfully connects to anyone and thereby boost my ego
    to see if there is something someone else may point out as an 'error' and burst my ego.
    Can't think of anything else. Okay... to have them point out any error, however minor. I really am open to any suggestions, I try all of them out to see what it looks like.
    Garbled thoughts or perifery are usually not my issue. I'm like a laser. Bzzzt-bzzzt! But whatever else, there may be something useful, and for that, and for that matter - for any and all comments- I am greatfull. I do try to re-write after consideration, it's just that typically I fail. My poem becomes dead to me.
    Also, I am in no way a proponent of 'my way', just pointing out how it is for me. I consider it a limitation, my 'short-bus'. I don't know if anyone else rides it with me, or, just for a distance. I can't say. That s my poetry. Prose is a whole different thing. That I can write, and re-write, and re-write...Thank you for your input.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by TL Murphy View Post
    Kevin, if you rewrite while you write and then you're done, what is the point of offering your writing in a workshop for critique? I think the assumption in most workshops is that any poem can be better and different perspectives give the author a chance to see his work in different light. We all learn from each other and we learn the most when it's our own work that's under scrutiny. There is, of course, the danger in workshops for a culture to develop , with rules, in which everyone's poetry starts to look/sound the same and that is the death of art. I recently read a comment by an editor who also judges contests and he said that after reading hundreds of poems he can tell when a poet is trying to sound like other poets. He says that most of the submissions he reads sound the same. He discards these without reading to the end. What he is looking for is the poet's authentic voice and he stresses that a poet must never forget that. The late Robert Kroetsch said a similar thing to me on time. he said "Use your own voice. There is no other."

    That being said there is value in rewriting. We distill our thoughts through the writing process. But the initial effort is often loaded with peripheral stimulus, digression and extraneous baggage. Or we skim over a thought that really needs to be unpacked in the poem. I often don't know what a poem is about until I write the last word and somethimes it's days before I really understand what I've written. We tend to overwrite in the beginning and the end. We don't always get our thoughts in the best order, initially. When rewriting we often find better ways to express what might be over written or cumbersome. It's true that the poet should strive to keep their original passion. This is also the case when reading critique of your own poem. It's you who has written the poem and often the critics have no better reason for there ciritique than to say it's they way they write. Well, excuse me, but that's not the goal here. in fact anytime you read a critic who advises you to change something because it's the way they write you should flat out ignore it. It's bad advice. On the other hand, there is good technique and there is bad technique and any poet can improve if he allows others to point that out without letting his ego get bruised.

    Thank you so much for being so eloquent ...you said everything I wished to express... My Grandmam started reading poetry to me when I was about 2... Frost, Whitman and Poe... so when I started writing, I emulated their style.... then I came to WF, and wow!!! What a shock! Every poem was so unrestrained.... rcallaci had several poems on the main poetry thread, one, my favorite still.. "The Spider Weeps".... IT BLEW my mind! From that point on, I was determined to find my voice... do it my way... I value uniqueness, I respect the poet that expresses emotions/ thoughts and ideas outside of the normal mundane idealized vein... love that, it inspires me, excites me...

    Kevin, I write very much like you do... when inspiration strikes ... I write... but after I write, I don't read it again for several days, then go back to it, if anything jumps out at me, I fix it.... I do that process many times, but I always SAVE an original copy... just to make sure my message does not go sideways....
    Check out the exciting Poetry Hill !!

    If you are a writer, reach a reader
    If you are a fighter, teach a leader
    If you are a lover, touch a leper
    If this has helped you, thank you, reader

    If you can read this, teach a thinker

    Author: Lynn Loschky



    Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
    love leaves a memory no one can steal....
    Author unknown.

  9. #9
    The point is that we can all get better and deeper through interaction with others who share our passion. Art thrives in community and dies in isolation. WF is a community. What's important is to discover your own voice and be true to it. It's not up to the critics to protect your voice. That's your job. You don't need to get offended or reactive to protect your voice. Just learn to recognize it for what it is. That's not easy. You have to be careful and you have to develop a sense of self. But it doesn't mean you can't learn from others or be influenced by others. The balance of honing your own voice while at the same time benefiting from the experience of other poets is an accelerated atmosphere for learning. It's okay to ignore advise if it doesn't ring with you. But it's foolish to ignore all advise because your initial inspiration is somehow precious to you. That's just counter productive. What's important is to learn how to be productively selective and not let your ego get trashed every time somebody says something less than glowing.

    To get back to the original post, "the zone" is something I think we all relate to. There is a mental place where creativity flows. We all want that and strive to build that into our practice. One fellow poet expressed it well - he said - "when it's happening, try to get the whole poem written down in one sitting." That means you push through doubt. You ignore spelling, punctuation, technique, rules, all that shit... you just get it down. But then the hard work begins. Poetry is more than inspiration - it's also craft and that takes time to learn and hard work.
    Last edited by TL Murphy; February 12th, 2018 at 05:51 AM.

  10. #10
    Tim, this is one of the most beautiful and articulate pieces I have ever read about art/poetry. ‘Art thrives in community’ and in isolation it dies. If we are not true to ourselves, we die and our art dies. When art survives the artist you can know full well that the artist was unabashedly herself...and it was with help from others that she learned to be herself. I am going to enlarge this and have it framed. What you have written is high art and should live forever. This should be posted in every creative writing class around the world, in every language. Thank you. Your words will become a classic go-to for artists everywhere.
    Last edited by Robbie; February 12th, 2018 at 06:43 AM.
    Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity --it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.
    John Keats

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