Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Snap, crackle, pop!

I'm hoping to work on some of these new poems today. And because I don't know where to start, I thought I'd start by plying some of the tricks I've learned in classes and workshops.
  • Choose only the lines that are most important (or original, most distinctly yours and the poem's) and using those.
  • Make the lines longer, and see if anything seems extra.
  • Make the lines much shorter, and see if anything seems extra.
But I haven't started yet, and I realize it's because I'm a little afraid of losing my voice. Sure, I might write a poem that's tighter (and more mysterious and even more poetic), a poem that snaps and crackles in a publisher's hand, but will I like it as much?

Maybe I prefer a looser style. Maybe it's the secret wannabe novelist in me. But I'm wondering whether even if the poems end up "better," I'll like them as much. And who wants to write poems that they don't like?

Just a little Tuesday morning insecurity. Do you ever worry about losing your voice?


Jane said...

I JUST read this bit on Jane Yolen's website about voice:
"Writing teachers speak of "finding your voice" as if the damned thing were lost somewhere: behind the desk, under the computer, in back of the commode. Whenever I hear that phrase, I am reminded of the "discovery" of America. Columbus did not discover America, he encountered the native people who already lived there. They were not lost, to be found. And neither is the story's voice.
The story's voice, not the author's.. That is what must be uncovered, not discovered."
Would finding a poem's voice be helpful, Joannie?

Joannie said...

I think that's a good way of looking at it, although I'm also looking at the voice of a series of poems (okay, maybe there isn't much difference there). I guess my biggest concern is that I'll try to fit the poem into some other voice that seems "right." Ah, confidence.

Jane said...

In the end, I believe the very words you do choose will reflect YOU - your personality. Is that what you're afraid of losing if you edit too much?
Your own unique experiences in life come into play when you gather your personal collection of words together for a poem. It is difficult to separate one's art from who you are. In your case, Joannie, I think even your poetry's cadence and rhythms have a sort of dancer's grace to them.
You can experiment with techniques and advice, but your voice will always be there.