100 Days of Poetry: Day Two–Stanza 1 and Drafting

Last night, I worked on my first poem in my 100 days of poetry project. I posted the full rough draft of the poem yesterday and mentioned it had problems. This is always the case. I rarely ever get a poem right the first time. I don’t think anyone does, plus I want to get back into the habit of spending loads of time with a poem.

Sunday night, I worked on the rough draft for little over an hour and last night I worked on it for an hour. Two hours isn’t bad. I read once Mary Oliver worked on each of her poems for at least 72 hours. That’s great. If someone worked on a poem for eight hours a day for a couple of weeks, then that would cover Oliver’s requirement, unfortunately I don’t have that much time per day to donate to composition. This is only going to get harder when school starts in the fall, but if I recreate a lot of the good habits I had when I went to school before, then I should be able to work on poetry for three or four hours a day, just I’m not sure if that would be everyday.

So what about the draft?

The first version of stanza one was as follows, with the new lines placed to the right:

First Draft                                                     Second Draft

Rust flecked, heavy,                                    The giant treads

hatcheted, and                                             the hymn’s rusted,

groaning, the hymn,                                   flecked, hatcheted,

an exposed nail                                           hiked headless nail,

head stepped upon                                    meandering

trailing blood, missed                               foot-tromping blood,

its notation’s                                                dolorous, off

verve: “fervently.”                                      tempo and pitch.

Honestly, I don’t like the second version much either, but it’s going in the right direction. This doesn’t mean I’m going to work on this stanza again tonight. Tonight, I’m going to work on the second stanza and if everything goes well, then I will work on the third stanza.

What don’t I like about the first stanza? Now, I love list poems and I have written quite a few, but the list of modifiers–rusted, flecked, hatcheted, and hiked–is just a little much. I also lost a bit of the metaphor from the first version. I know some people are going to have trouble that I changed the subject from “hymn” to “giant.” I don’t have a problem with it, but I do have a problem with the word “giant.” “Giant” is more of a placeholder while I work on this a little more, meaning I’m searching for a better word basically meaning “giant.” Another problem is there is a bit of subject/predicate agreement conflict. Even in a poem, the grammar must be accurate (IMO). Thus the reason for the drafting process.

In my article tomorrow about comics, I go over a cool comics rule about drafting comics. The comic rule basically states the comic writer needs to write, write again, and then write at least once again. With carefully crafted poetry, there might be a lot more drafts than three. I have redrafted some of my published poetry up to fifteen times (I suspect even more). I guess the biggest habit I’m working on right now is rewriting. As time goes, I’ll be working on effective drafting and hopefully finding a beta-tester who can give me sound, honest advice.

Thanks for reading this article. Please follow my progress, like my articles, and comment as often as you can. These steps will help me as I work to improve writing poetry and comics.


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