Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Unfinished Poem by Joanna M. Weston


Joanna M. Weston, a member of Internet Writing Workshop and a widely published poet wrote this guest blog about how she works.
She titled her blog, THE UNFINISHED POEM

"I love writing poetry and read poetry most days: it is inspiration, clarification, communication and a delight.

I write a poem every day except Sunday. Then it may be a few days or weeks before I come back to the poem and, if it has no energy in it for me, I re-read with a fresh perspective. I then either delete the poem or tweak, or re-write: i.e. work on it, better able to see errors and where meaning is unclear.

I want to convey a feeling or experience to others clearly, for I believe poetry is, like all art, a form of revelation and communication.

I try to be sure that imagery is relevant, language fresh and without clich├ęs. Phrases like 'every cloud has a silver lining' or 'after rain comes a rainbow' come so easily that sometimes it's hard to reach for a new image.

The computer's Spelling and Grammar checker is usually not helpful for poetry, so I try to ensure that subject and object, pronouns and verbs agree; that there are no extra words to muddy the focus of the poem: i.e. an unnecessary 'and', 'that', 'but' or 'then'.

I change words that have been repeated, often using Roget's Thesaurus. Adjectives and adverbs superfluous to the theme are deleted, as not every noun or verb requires a descriptive.

Line-breaks require particular attention, especially as I don't use punctuation. The best way I know to check line-breaks is to read the poem aloud, find where the natural breaks occur and use them.

Reading aloud also gives a reality check on rhythm:

·       Is the meter appropriately broken or maintained

·       Are alliteration, assonance and dissonance as effective as possible?

 All of which adds up to ensuring that the image or emotion is clear to the reader, that the devices of diction, prosody etc. enhance rather than get in the way of the intended meaning. And always I wonder whether my poem goes beyond surface conclusions to give genuine insight.

This is not to say that it is a simple task to edit my own poetry. And I rarely regard a poem as 'finished' even after it's been published.

I'm deeply indebted to the Poetry List of the International Writers' Workshop for their on-going help in critiquing my poetry, truly invaluable. Also I maintain a blog where I publish a poem every Wednesday:

I'm endlessly grateful to family and friends who, over the years, have pointed out typos and grammatical errors.

Joanna is married; has one cat, multiple spiders, raccoons, a herd of deer, and two derelict hen-houses. Her middle-reader, 'Frame and The McGuire', published by Tradewind Books 2015; and poetry, 'A Bedroom of Searchlights', published by Inanna Publications, 2016. Other books are listed at her blog, where you can also read more about her.

Joanna M. Weston

A Bedroom of Searchlights poetry


ISBN 978-1-77133-305-4
published by Inanna Publications