Draft of the Week, #2.

I don’t think it’s ever happened that I’ve written a first draft straight through before beginning revisions.  I don’t know enough about where a poem’s headed to get it all down right away.  Which is probably one reason the blank page is such a daunting prospect.  Yet, when you sit down, neglect your family and stay sat, it all works:  I present you the second installment of my Draft of the Week series.  I’ll leave it up until Monday some time.


Home again, home again, jiggity-jig!

All in all, a nice break from work, but I could really use a break from my child. Especially between the hours of 7 and 10pm.

We’re in the process of moving from the 3rd floor to a larger apartment on the 2nd floor, hooray!, but the resulting chaos is wreaking havoc on my mental health. And this is the easiest sort of move there is! I’m not averse to change, but CHAOS. My deepest sympathy to those of you dealing with this stripe of strife right now.


Of course I accomplished nothing of note while I was away, though I did somehow get looped into writing 2 reviews by September 15, which is right at the tail end of textbook rush, egads. I also managed to read through most of the essays in Poem, Revised: 54 Poems, Revisions, Discussions, edited by Robert Hartwell Fiske and Laura Cherry. The quality and usefulness of each essay vary widely, but the ones I found interesting were more than worth the price of admission. Most importantly, I discovered new poets (to me), and these glimpses into their processes, and reading their poems from drafts to final version, was fun and strangely reassuring — re-visioning is highly subjective, but I can see parallels between most of the poets included, and me. This quote from Deena Linett’s essay on her poem, “Above the River,” is one example:

“Those are terrible lines,” I said earlier and, wincing, again here: how bad they are. But I have learned over the years that you have to be willing to write them. You don’t have to show them to anybody, but you have to be willing to put them down, and the reason for that seems to me extraordinarily important.

You don’t know what they’re going toward; you can’t know what they’ll yield, until you write it.

I don’t save my drafts, the early ones — I hate to be reminded of how plain awful they are, and would hate even more for someone else to read them. But it can be important to keep that inner censor/editor muzzled early on, to let those first drafts be as bad as they need to be to get you to where you’re going.

I say this even though I also revise as I go along, before I’ve even finished a poem, line by line. But I keep all the versions and fragments together in a pile until the poem is done, or nearly. Then I type it into the computer, and consign all those crappy drafts to poetry purgatory, a.k.a., the recycling bin.

Ode to Illness.

My shingles are improving, the rash receding, the pain lessening. But pale Vincent is still vomiting spectacularly whenever solid food hits his belly, so we’re trying to be nurturing and patient and insist on clear liquids though in between bouts he cries passionately to nurse. O it wrings our hearts.

So lacking time or brainwaves to post properly, I thought I’d share this poem by Jan Bailey, from her collection, “Midnight in the Guest Room,” published by