A Glance into My Process of Editing

So, I wrote this poem:

A gift of hope fades
to withered branches
waning as time passes
into dried sticks
and potpourri.
The scent of death fills the air
while promises re forgotten.

This was my first draft of the poem which has since been edited into this (still untitled) piece:

His bouquet of oaths fades
to withered branches
waning as time passes
into dried sticks
and potpourri.
Decay perfumes the air
while his promises are forgotten

While there aren’t a ton of changes, they are still significant and I’ll go on to explain each one and the processes I went through in editing the first poem into the second poem.

At Cal Poly Pomona I was part of the 2013 Spring Poetry Circle hosted by professor Liam Corley. In that group, I shared the original poem and I received a ton of helpful feedback on other people’s interpretation of my poem.

“Potpourri seems out of place because it’s the only French word.”

“Why do you hate pronouns in this piece?”

“The scent of death makes me think of a funeral.” (Not what I had intended at all with my original thought process.)

After receiving this feedback, I edited the poem and it came out as the following:

His bouquet of oaths fade
to withered branches
waning as time passes
into dried sticks
and potpourri.
The scent of death fills the air
while his whispers of love are forgotten.

Then, for no reason and with no feedback whatsoever, I decided the poem needed more French:

His bouquet of oaths fades
to withered branches
waning as time passes
into dried sticks
and potpourri.
The scent of death fills the air
while his whispers of amour are forgotten.

I was happy with my edits and I posted it to a poetry editing group I’m part of on Facebook (the same one that launched the idea for this blog, actually) and I got some more feedback.

“‘[T]he scent of death’ is a distancing phrase for me.”

“Amour is a nice touch but at the same time I’m also not sure if I can feel it.”

So I pondered further on the poem and edited some more and came up with the current version of the poem. It’s still in the process of being edited and, next time I go to an open mic event and read it, I will be watching the audience for their reaction and take what ques I can from that to edit my poem further.

Editing is a long process for me and I look for feedback from many sources to pinpoint if the meaning I intended is being delivered by my work. I think it’s important to point out that while I posted all the comments on things that stuck out about my piece, the feedback I did receive was mostly very promising and encouraging with just little blips of critiquing specific words or actions of the poem. I’ve said it before in this blog and I’ll say it again – always lead with a compliment or praise when critiquing a poem because that makes the author feel at ease for the rest of the process.

So what are your views on revision? Do you have any further feedback for me on my poem? Also, what do you think this poem is about? How does it make you think? What images pop up in your mind? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!

– Amanda Riggle

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