Days of crying, fighting, raging, dying – all results of extreme emotion – most accurately describe the revision process of my poetry portfolio, which I am proud to present in its polished form.  Through my first experience in writing poetry, I have learned to appreciate it infinitely times more. Truly, the revising process was humbling, especially when forced to “cut” my lines (and sometimes whole stanzas). This is particularly true in the revision of one of my portfolio’s poems, “Don’t Touch My Stuff.”

My new enjoyment and respect of poetry most likely arose while working with this poem, the one formal verse out of all others in my portfolio. This poem was not at all even close in similarity to its first draft. The only similarity would be the fact that a father exists in both pieces. In my opinion, the first draft had nice literary effects, emotional invitations, and a simile that I completely dreaded to surrender when scrapping them. I could have continued the theme of that draft. During the revision process, however, I felt that the poem led to meanings that were very different from what I initially intended. With the existence of multiplicity in direction, the poem was confusing and unclear, so I tried to ask myself questions as a reader and attempted to reply to them as a writer.

These difficult questions are really what caused great ideas to pop in my head. An important question that caused a complete change of my poem, for example, was, “What if the poem was about a father and son that doesn’t represent the relationship between you and your dad?”  As I searched for answers, I knew that changing the poem to be about something starkly different from my personal background would be uncomfortable, unsafe, and unsure. For the sake of good poetry, however, I began to accept this possibility. Suddenly, explosions of ideas came in from every direction, striking my brain to turn with each hit. One vital idea to the building of this poem is that the father’s son in the poem is specifically a child. This inevitably led to “Don’t Touch My Stuff,” a poem that is preoccupied with the dangerous effect a father has on his innocent child. This then caused many other ideas to form, including the scenes running through my imagination that I described in the poem. After much cutting and re-writing, it finished.

During the revision process for each of my poems, one grand question continued to scratch at me for an answer: “What is a good poem?” There may not be a valid, universal standard of “good poems,” but after diving directly into the jaws of poetry I have begun to realize that the question should be flipped; I should be trying to answer the question: “What makes a poem good?” Although subtlety different, that question helped me to discover a handful of traits in poetry that contribute to its powerful effects, fully motivating me to use them in my own poems in this portfolio: concise and descriptive action instead of an overload of adverbs and adjectives, consistent grammar and structure that aids the unique flow of a poem, a title that effectively adds to a poem’s meaning, a vivid setting that immerses the reader, moments that are lasting and memorable,  and specific word choice that prevents confusion and vagueness that also implies inherent meaning – all to facilitate the reader’s emotional adventure from one place to another.

I hope that my poems do all of this and more. I serve you with my portfolio. First off, “Don’t Touch My Stuff.” Please enjoy.

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