Friday, January 20, 2017

Self-Ekphrasis = New Approach to Revision

60º ~ after days of gray & drizzle, the sun makes a valiant effort to break through ~ to the west some success, to the south the gray is winning


This morning, during my scheduled writing time, I decided to focus on revising and preparing more of the collage/poem combos from my self-ekphrasis project. Because my goal was on having some pieces ready for submission, I flipped through the portfolio of the work, and stopped whenever I read a poem that felt strong. Remember, I read the poems out loud as I assess for revision.

The new approach to revision with this project is that I also have the collage to consider. First, I read the poems without giving the collages much attention. Of course, I got a glance of them and that brought back memories of the images, but my instinct was to read each poem out loud and get a sense for the poem alone. Also, reading out loud is crucial to my revision process no matter the work, even prose. Speaking the text is the only way I can figure out if the words, syntax, punctuation, etc. are the best choices for a particular piece. It's the only way I can assess lineation, pace, and sound elements in poems, especially.

In this new project, though, revision also means considering the collage beside the poem. My goal is to publish them side-by-side, although not every journal will be able to do that. As I approached revision this morning, two things struck me.

1) The collages resist revision. Yes, I could go back to my image bank and glue over parts of the pages (I collage by hand with cut out images and glue), but I have no desire to do so. These pieces experience so much active revision during the process of creation that at this stage they are whole, "finished." Poetry is never this way for me. Even after a poem has been published, I may tinker with small changes to get it closer and closer to that elusive "ideal" poem I'm always chasing.

2) I had to consider how strictly I wanted the poems to be informed by the collages and how much room there was for conversation rather than strict translation of the images. In the original project, I created the collages first and tried to repress the instinct to think about the eventual poems as I was moving images around on the page. In re-reading the poems in consideration with the images, the Type A part of me really tried to pull toward a more strict translation, which the poet part of me resisted. I had wanted the poems to be in conversation with the collages, and that's what I strove for in this set of revisions.

Once I had the poem "set," I had to prepare a PDF file for submission. I've been ironing out this process since August, and I think I finally got all the wrinkles out. I am self-taught in all things computer, but wish I had much more knowledge of graphic design programs. For however many minutes I devoted to true revision, I spent twice that many getting the two files (poem and collage) merged, with much time figuring out how I wanted to present the collages, which are built on white paper. I ended up using the border function in Word to create a mini-frame for the images, which make the digital version of the collages much more pleasing to the eye.

All of this is to say that during today's writing time, I revised 6 poems and created 6 collage/poem PDFs ready for submission. Now, I must investigate where to send.

For those waiting to see some of this work for real, 4 pieces have been accepted. Three will be available from Tupelo Quarterly on February 15. Stay tuned!

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