A Surge of Language
In this sense, I feel the process of revision is a real gift to
students. They are used to writing a paper, getting a grade, and filing
the paper in the circular file. End of process. When I put them through
multiple drafts of a poem, they have to take more time and consider
what might be there. The process is, in part, about honoring
themselves. A first draft is an impulse and impulses matter powerfully.
I would never deny that. I always begin any look at a poem with praise.
There is always a word or two that deserves that praise and usually
there’s a lot more than a word or two. But there’s more to writing than
impulse. Consider that every time one starts a new sentence in a poem
one has made a decision that affects where the rest of the poem is
going. What if the poet reconsiders those decisions? What does sentence
two have to do with sentence one? Does sentence two honor what is there
in sentence one or just go off on its own? And what about sentence