For many years, I was reluctant to revise my poems much. I don’t think it was that I thought they were perfect. At least I hope that wasn’t why. I just truly believed in the strength of the initial draft, the unconscious power of composition that occurred. I was more afraid of losing what I felt was that inherent power, even if the poem itself was flawed. I was more inclined to quickly move on to the next poem instead of spending time with any one piece. This could explain why my output was so much greater in the past.
I have been busy lately with longer, themed projects, like the Ziegfeld poems I’ve already talked about. I also spent a good portion of the year on a book concept concerning the women of Marx Brothers movies, a project that’s taken a back seat to the Ziegfeld material. I decided to follow my passions more directly, considering my very limited time to write.
I’ve also spent some time sending poems out, some new (despite everything, there are always new poems), but a good number of old ones. I’ve had some success there, but there’s a certain dishonesty I always feel in sending out work that isn’t representative of my current voice. Nevertheless, I aim for some consistency.
I pulled a few poems out from the last fifteen years and am trying to assemble them into some sort of manuscript, with the horrifically generic theme of “love.” Certainly, the romantic relationships in my life provided me with a good deal of material, and in turn, writing about them afforded me some cheap therapy that I benefit from to this day.
In order to make a uniform package, I’ve been revising each one. This is best done first thing in the morning, while I sip my stevia-sweetened coffee, and before the Dagwood-like rush to get out the door for work. Even poems I’d almost committed to memory (although that’s never a goal of mine) come up a decade later as desperately in need of order and streamlining. My biggest fault as a poet is becoming somewhat entranced by the sound of my own words, often to the detriment of logic. Sometimes the sun rises in the west, and sometimes a door becomes a jar.
The distance of years and deficit of crazy-making estrogen has given me clearer artistic vision. I am making these poems generally better, and most definitely a more cohesive unit. The truth will set your work free. I look forward to sending them out as a family to a few select publishers, or even doing another Flying Monkey Press publication. It’s all the same to me. The word’s the thing, and how it gets out there is a matter of chance.