Saturday, May 2, 2009
I'd let the rejections pile up on the desk over the last few weeks, so today I recorded everything and in the process did some good revision work (the usual outcome of rejections). Revising individual poems led me to revising Glacial Elegies. All of my fall book submission have come back negative, but I had come to expect that. The manuscript I sent out in the spring and continue to work on now is a tighter version of what I sent in the fall. I imagine it will tighten up even more before the next round as well. I don't seem to be able to stop tinkering (and couldn't with the first book either).
As I was revising, I got nervous about the number of poems in the manuscript that are written in couplets. I really can't explain where the nerves came from, or why I zeroed in on the couplets, but I did. I do remember Jim Whitehead once pointing out that all of my poems at the time were written in columns of three- or four-beat lines. This lack of range displeased Jim, and I've been overly conscious of relying on one formal structure too much ever since then, I guess. However, I know many poets who spend their entire careers writing within a certain formal frame. If the poems are written well should it matter? Do you worry about getting stuck in a rut?
So, this being baseball season (go Cubs!), I turned to the numbers. Currently, there are 54 poems in Glacial Elegies. Here's the form & theory breakdown:
Single stanza: 5
Regular stanzas of other lengths: 3
Regular pattern (i.e. couplet, tercet, couplet, etc.): 8
Varied lines & stanzas: 7
If this provides any deep insights to anyone, please let me know.