Form and Function: Revise, Revise, Revise

Writing poems are all about revision.

When I first started putting down verse, I was very anti-revision. To me, poetry was a moment of experience! A thought came to me and I scribbled it down and voila! Magic! A spontaneous explosion of feeling and meaning right there on the page! It would be inauthentic of me to try to revise it in a different place, time, and feeling. Right?


While this idea of spontaneous genius and creativity is great and lovely and all that, it’s unrealistic. If you want to be the best poet you can be, if you want to reach people with your verse and prompt them to have a-ha moments of their own, you have to be willing to revise.

No one writes anything perfectly the first time out of the gate, whether we’re talking poetry, a short story, a novel, an essay, a term paper, or an email. Everything warrants improvement.

As I’ve said before, and I will say again, write as a five-year-old, revise as the poet. It’s in revision where you truly become a poet, where your word choices and punctuation and selection of form all come together to convey a message.

Your poem doesn’t have life until you revise it.

Your thoughts on revision?

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