24 September 2010

About Revision

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

--Anton Chekhov

I don't remember seeing this quote before but it's a good one for thinking about the--about your--project this semester. Chekhov illuminates and gives us a good example of all my teacherly repetitions of Show Don't Tell. (Show Don't Tell: not simply a policy for hook-ups in the military.)

This Chekhovian tidbit is a good way to think about revision, which word derives obviously from seeing (vision) again (re). I'm definitely asking you to take another look at the poems and make sure that you are showing the reader as much as possible. We discussed this a lot last night in class and previously.

I also want to suggest that you have some respect for your poem. Imagine, if you can, that your poem had something to say that you are not fully in control of, as if your lines were half-written by a poltergeist or (better!) inspired by an ancient Greek muse. How can you let that part shine, that mysterious part that might not seem totally relevant to you at first glance? I'm suggesting that before you start scratching out lackluster words and pulling out the thesaurus and re-writing according to your teacher's suggestions, you listen to the poem.

Though, by all means, do pull out the thesaurus.

No comments: