Friday, October 16, 2009

Revised "Again"

One of the wonderful things about having a writing group is getting feedback. I've rarely written poetry for classes, so they've never been "graded," and until the last couple of years, I've been my own lone critic --- which explains why my writing hasn't grown as much as I would like it to. Our Mountain Empire Creative Arts Council's monthly Writing Workshop has been a godsend in providing me with real feedback from some pretty good writers and even better critiquers.

The first few times I handed poems to a poet-friend from church, I was a crying-jag mess. My oh-so-sensitive soul was devastated -- I was sure that everything I had asked my friend to review and thus everything I had written in my entire lifetime was utter crapola -- no exceptions. My friend, an accomplished poet who just completed her thesis for her MFA in Writing in Poetry, is an oh-so-senstive soul too, and she empathized and sympathized and gave me over-the-phone hugs 'n' love that slowly made me see that beneath all the crapola might be a glimmer of the salvageable. (She gave me much more than that, but I only saw glimmers myself.) She encouraged and challenged, pushed and prodded when each was needed -- with just the right mix of self-deprecating humor that made me smile through my tears. Reviewing her thesis this week was a joy -- she is truly a brilliant star.

So on Tuesday night when I read my poem "Again" to our monthly gathering of writers, Judith (a well-published poet, well-known far outside our local confines) asked me if I wanted "real" criticism, and I honestly did. I was able to take her ideas as well as the suggestions of others without a tear ... and even with a smile.

I've slowly learned to allow my little poem-children to creep out into the world, come back a little battered 'n' bruised with torn clothing and missing socks, and then after I patch them up, they venture out again with more confidence.

The original "Again" may be seen by clicking on the hyperlinked title in the next sentence. So here is my revised version of "Again."


Again.

Slowly
she shook her head,
negating the swirling images --
the insistent questions:
Who now?
When now?
Where now?
Now.
Again.
Still shaking her sickening head --
Not again.
He had promised.

She dared not imagine
who this one was --
what she looked like --
where they had met --
how often?
for how long?

Her face raised to his,
betrayal, accusation
in her eyes,
apology in his --
Again.

Copyright 2009 Susanne Barrett
So what do you think? Judith said I should cut it down by 1/4 to 1/3, and my cut is over 40%. Perhaps I took out too much, condensed it too far and lost some emotional impact. Or perhaps that emotional "blow to the gut" is a bit stronger.

I'd love input, especially from my poetry-writing and poetry-loving followers. Again....

4 comments:

Anne said...

Susanne, I'm not much of a critic. I liked it the first time, and I still like it. But what I really like is your description of your poem children! That is wonderful!

Susanne Barrett said...

Thanks, Anne. :)

Jane D. said...

Liked the original but this one is far more punchy and less prescriptive on the emotions, letting you put them in as the reader - fab!

Karen said...

I agree, I like the original one better.

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