Friday, May 8, 2015

Editing a Poem

As a girl, I loved reading poems, especially rhyming ones.  Back then, I didn’t realize that poems can be, and often are, edited to make them extra special.  In my youth, I had written a number of little poems, one about a leaf floating by my window and at least one about love.  I never edited them, I wrote them just as I thought them up. 

In 2010 I wrote a poem, and it was edited, a lot! 

It was August and, while driving to work, I was staring at the most beautiful configuration of clouds I thought I’d ever seen.  My first inclination was to hold that moment in time somehow to share it with others.  Not having a camera, and being in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I struggled to find a way to capture the image.  So, I started describing what I saw out loud to myself.  I broke down my thoughts over and over again until I had a piece that was very short and made me remember the exact scene I had witnessed in the heavens.

Once I reached my office, I rushed to write down the short verse.  It was never edited again.  At the time it was exactly what I wanted, and still is.  Here is that quaint, descriptive little poem: 

August 2010

Radiant tiers brushed with light
Fanned out across the sky
Gracefully reach for the earth

The way I edited this piece was all verbal.  I kept searching for the most descriptive words I could to paint this picture in my mind’s eye.  This is essential for a good poem; the reader should be able to imagine the same feelings or vision as the writer.  Some poetry is written for the writer alone, some to invoke feelings, others to tell stories, and some to bring an image to the mind of the reader (and…this is a short list).  Look for descriptive, vivid words, or phrases that bring immediate images or feelings to you.  If you are convinced, your reader will be also.

Try to use metaphors and similes in your poems.  (This is an area where I’m weak)  A metaphor is like a symbol for something.  For instance, a family is like a tree with each person representing a branch.  A simile is a comparison, like being ‘as black as night’ or ‘as white as a swan’ or ‘as happy as a lark’ to name a few.  These can be very powerful for creating an image for your reader, especially if you use a common one.

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