Endings and Beginnings from Week 8

Tuesday’s Writing Tips:

Portable MFA in Creative Writing

The 8th and Final Week: Endings and Beginnings

How do I know when my poem is really done? The best method to know a poem is done is to keep revising it until you have worn out the impulse to work on it.

Write about your own poem: what you like in it, what you love about it. Write about what you remember in terms of the process of writing the poem. Did it come all in a flash? Did it germinate slowly? Did a specific memory or incident prompt it?

Rewrite the poem taking the heart out of the poem…yep, the most important thing. Then, rewrite it a second time and go where another theme or subject start to bubble up. Follow that lead. Finally, rewrite a third time using the last line from the rewrite. Forget everything that came before the last line. Make your end your beginning, and see what happens.

Creative Checklist:

  1. What is the strangest thing you’ve written during these last eight weeks?
  2. What is the least finished?
  3. Have you looked at the beginning, middle, and end of your lines in your poems?
  4. Have you faithfully done your outside reading?
  5. Go back and read the first poem you tackled by that intimidating writer. Is the poem more resonant for you?
  6. What have you written that truly surprised you?
  7. According to your own eye and ear, how has your writing changed over the last eight weeks? Is it messier? Deeper? Worse? Better?
  8. And finally, how has your sense of yourself as a poet changed?

Throughout the week I will answer the eight questions above. I’ll start today with the first—the strangest thing I’ve written. I found the haiku, Trapped, from November 5th along with the picture that I posted with it.

Trapped Haiku Poetry

Trapped Haiku

Weave a tangled web—
Freedom exits as she speaks.
Soon her mind stops.

Here’s the second rewrite:

I am free to choose
the direction of my life—
dreams boiling over.

Here’s the third rewrite: 

Dreams boiling over
like a Dali painting.
Swarm, ooze and paralyze.

Here’s another rewrite: 

Soon her mind stops—
dreams slowly fading.
a lackluster life.

Hey poets, how do you determine when a poem is complete?


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