26 July 2011

Also Against Revision

William Blake Comes Out Against Revision

(Sort of.)

First thought is best in Art, second in other matters.

Against Revision

As a teacher of creative writing (and what writing isn't?), I often tell students that writing is all about revision. I find a lot of evidence to back me up and I deliver it to them with gusto. However, I also have to admit that this is not actually true. Many writers, good ones, disagree with me vehemently on the topic of revision.

Allen Ginsberg, for one. I often recall his line "First thought, best thought." And his pal Kerouac had a "No revision" policy that was, he believed, influenced by Buddhism. Fine.

This evening I'm reading an interview with Nikki Giovanni in The Writer's Chronicle (Vol 43, No 5) and she also comes out "against" revision.

"I don't revise. I start all over again. And I say that to my students too. To say revise is to say, 'Oh my goodness, line fourteen needs some, you know.' So, you just start the poem all over again."

from "Mothers" by Nikki Giovanni

the last time i was home
to see my mother we kissed
exchanged pleasantries
and unpleasantries pulled a warm
comforting silence around
us and read separate books