How does one edit poetry?

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  1. ThompsonPen profile image66
    ThompsonPenposted 9 years ago

    How does one edit poetry?

    I have found myself I a position where I need to write a poem. I used to write poetry when I was in highschool (the horrendously bad stuff, mind you), and was of the very stuff opinion that a poem must be written when the emotion grips you and must not be touched after. However, some ten years down the line I find myself involved in a poem and abandoning this belief - and I have no idea how to edit a poem!

  2. Vvitta profile image80
    Vvittaposted 9 years ago

    Poems are usually about imagery and emotions. There must be a flow throughout the poem carrying these themes. To edit, you have to reconnect with the intentions of the poet. If the poem is your own, this is easier. i for one, don't place too much of importance on the rhyme scheme as the effectiveness of word choice.
    Overworking a poem has its failings. One can end up completely destroying the intention of the poet by over editing. For me, editing must be done without delay.

    1. ThompsonPen profile image66
      ThompsonPenposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      That's a good way of putting it. I work in a writing center as a reader/tutor, and I hear sometimes we have people bring in their poetry, and trying to help them revise is something that scares me since I believe it is a representation of a moment

  3. Twilight Lawns profile image71
    Twilight Lawnsposted 9 years ago

    Does this sound arrogant?
    I usually find that the poem flows as I am writing it, and sometimes (only sometimes) I finish it and hardly need to change anything at all.  Those are the lucky times.  But what I have found, is that if I do not complete a poem in its entirety first time, it is incredibly difficult to pick up the pieces and get back into the emotions and feelings of the initial poem.
    Thinking of this, it makes me remember the tale of Samuel Taylor Coleridge who, having experienced an opium influenced dream, had started to write that amazingly beautiful poem: Kubla Khan.  Unfortunately, he was interrupted by a “person from Porlock” during its writing, and when he had extricated himself from that person’s company, found that he had lost the thread of the poem as planned.
    But this was a poem based on the senses; and as you said: “and was of the very stuff opinion that a poem must be written when the emotion grips you and must not be touched after”.
    I know it would be difficult to take up the thread, but if you poem were fulfilling your purposes and conveying those emotions and longings, then it shouldn’t have been too difficult to read it; immerse yoruself in it;  and allow yourself to enter that mindset again.
    Writing verse with metre, and also poetry requiring rhyming patterns is a completely different matter, and frequently requires much planning and tweaking, especially with the correct number of syllables per line and also the correct rhythm and rhyming pattern for each verse.  That is where the “science and mathematics” comes in and the Muse must, sometimes, take a back seat for at least some of its composition.

    1. ThompsonPen profile image66
      ThompsonPenposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Doesn't sound arrogant at all! I like the idea of getting the emotions and "moment" out there, and then applying, as you put it, "science and mathematics" later. I think for me the form was the hardest part to design.

    2. Twilight Lawns profile image71
      Twilight Lawnsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      ThompsonPen, I agree with what you say and also, thank you for dismissing my apology concerning my arrogance.  I also agree, strongly, with the challenges that form presents.
      I have a friend who is convinced that a poem should have neither more than

  4. The Examiner-1 profile image60
    The Examiner-1posted 9 years ago

    Like anything else. You go through it very carefully and look for misspelled words (were they poetically misspelled?); missing words (I jumped bridge) - ask yourself if you meant to say that or meant to use 'the'; Words which should be capitalized (I,i); any punctuation accidentally forgotten?; etc.

    Do not change the theme.

    1. ThompsonPen profile image66
      ThompsonPenposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      The theme should of course remain untouched! I remember reading in years past of poets who would painstakingly take hours to produce a line or even a couple of words. That baffles me!

    2. The Examiner-1 profile image60
      The Examiner-1posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I keep a journal with me and write it down as it comes to me. It could be hours or days but I do not sit and worry over it. Something may come while I am writing an article. I simply jot it in the poem journal and return to what I was doing.

  5. Diana Lee profile image80
    Diana Leeposted 9 years ago

    Poetry needs a rhythm to flow from one thought to another.  I like to use rhyme, but great poems have been written without it.  Grammar rules are more or less non existing when it comes to poetry. Read some poetry before you decide to fix anything.

    1. ThompsonPen profile image66
      ThompsonPenposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I certainly made the effort to read some other poems before even composing my poem. Poems are tricky beings! The idea of this particular one was to mimic the Romantic Era style - flower and imagination.

    2. Twilight Lawns profile image71
      Twilight Lawnsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Diane Lee, I agree that rhythm can create a flow within a piece of written work; whether poetry or prose.  But breaking rhythm can actually cause the mind to stop and appreciate  the impact of a new though. 
      All the above is true, but I was amazed t

  6. Sinbadsailorman profile image59
    Sinbadsailormanposted 9 years ago

    Never edit your poems you should only seek to make them more clear and flowing. sure edit miss spellings but always check the meaning of that mis spelled word for sometimes it is a subconscious decision that you missed spelled It. When I first started learning [Not that I know how to yet] (Get It Right) or edit my poems I ended up scrapping hundreds of them. I will write a poem or some prose and then place it were others can comment and then I see what they think I saw. and try to clear the message or emotions or feelings out for them to get my geest of it. I write and do not always understand the poem at first. Until others have commented upon them. Unless you are writing a specific style of poem say maybe a Sonnet or a Hukia stay as true to your original draft. I only write Prose and free verse poetry because I am not interested in conforming to a strict rhythm or rhyming pattern. Just not my thing although it may appear sometimes  on it's own in my poems I don't seek to place rhyming and rhythm patterns. Poetry to me must be felt at all cost and the feelings or "message" is what I strive to present. Don't ever throw that first draft out it may lead you to several poems or verses. Edit nothing eliminate and rearrange if necessary. But one doesn't edit poetry Poetry Edits one's self and others. Poetry changes thoughts and feelings and can steer the course of a Nation or cause one to end their very life's course. It can Flip an Angel into a devil or a demon into a mortal man. No Rhyme or reason for it to be edited. One doesn't edit their thoughts. They only receive them adhere to them or disregard them. Write your heart out right or wrong a poem will become a song that reaches the ear of the beholder. Or it will sink to the deepest low between one's shoulders. It may smash unto the floor or it may soar where mosquitoes tread do not edit the words that you bled. Transform them instead.

    1. ThompsonPen profile image66
      ThompsonPenposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I love this, this is a fantastic answer

    2. Sinbadsailorman profile image59
      Sinbadsailormanposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      If  you Need help finding a forum or site is where I go or began. I barely have time to create these days so I don't get there often Poetry Soup is a good site as well.

  7. Radical Rog profile image71
    Radical Rogposted 9 years ago

    The question is, should one edit poetry? On top of what Vvitta says, poetry is often inspirational, an idea of the moment. The poet can then consider and change a few words, tidy the metre and rhyme, but as for being edited by another, that is another question.
    Then there is the more constructional form of poetry. Verse written on demand, for a specific purpose, this is another game altogether.

  8. chaitanyasaivb profile image67
    chaitanyasaivbposted 9 years ago

    Check the poem, as many times, as you can, You can definitely identify your own mistakes, Then correct them. And If you want to make it colorful, try to read other poems, which were related to your topic. It will give some new ideas to your poem.

  9. Besarien profile image74
    Besarienposted 9 years ago

    You could edit out clichés in favor more original imagery and find better ways of describing things- more nouns and less adjectives for example.

    You could find a more precise word for something (haddock instead of fish, hedgerow instead of bushes) or change the word order so that the line sounds better when read( He walked with his back against shadow, to With back against shadow he walked).

    Personally I never minded changing the theme if the poem called for it. Sometimes when you think you are writing about one thing you are subconsciously writing about something else entirely.

  10. Seafarer Mama profile image79
    Seafarer Mamaposted 9 years ago

    Read it aloud to yourself. This will help you hear whether it flows the way you want it to, and says what you want it to say.

    Then re-read to correct spelling and punctuation errors.


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