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