Some poems are simply ‘received,’ gifts that match words to moment so perfectly it seems travesty to change even one. A friend in my writing group brought this up when discussing how we know when and what to edit.
My immediate response to her was: “edit, edit, edit.” I tend to agonize over my own writing, re-writing and re-framing over and over. But as days passed, her question kept knocking on my subconscious. What is the difference between craft and dream? Should form, skill and knowledge ALWAYS take precedence over the spontaneous joy of transcribing a vision? And then leaving the vision intact?
I have, in fact, ruined a couple of my best poems by overworking them. Ultimately, they lost their souls. I tend to take out words like ‘beauty,’ ‘love,’ ‘hope,’ ‘joy,’ even ‘sorrow.’ Then I secretly resent like mad Jane Hirshfield’s audacity, titling her latest volume, “The Beauty.”
I have resolved to ‘lighten up’ a bit on myself and do more ‘free writes,’ just letting words enter my mood and speak. Will these poems need some fiddling to improve? Sure. Might some of them stand as written? Maybe. Maybe a line or two. Yes, Laura, there are some poems that arrive as gifts and we should do nothing but stand back and say, “Thank you, Beloved Muse.”