Why Is It So Hard Write Poems?
...Because every excellent poem requires an incredible amount of work (and even suffering) to create, even though it may not be readily apparent to a reader.
Consider this masterpiece by the poet Ezra Pound (and if you know the poem, please keep reading):
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
There are only 14 words, but the original draft was 30 lines in length! Would you care to guess how much labor (and, yes, suffering) went into getting from concept to finished product? It must have been at once tortuous, overwhelming, and fun.
It would be disingenuous of poets not to admit this fact: We write poetry to a considerable extent because it is hard, not in spite of it. Admit it. We like to find the way from point A to point B (and sometimes the reverse), because we like the challenge, the puzzle, the difficulty, the suffering (that word again).
I once watched a high school student who was torturing his body and suffering immensely at a cross country practice, and the next day I asked him why he does it. His response: "Because it feels good when I stop."
Same with the poet. When we "finish" a poem (if we ever finish it), we admire it as though we have finally finished the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle--without any help.
We admire it, that is, until we have second (or third) thoughts about that particular word, that combination of sounds, that phrase that might read awkwardly. Why the second thoughts, the tweaking? Because suffering is fun for us. Even if we are not that good at it (the suffering I mean).
A VerseWrights poet recently submitted an excellent, strong poem. A few days later, he sent a revision. Then a few days later another revision.
It's OK, I get it.
In a recent letter, Donal Mahoney, a verseWrights poet, stated:
But when it comes to poetry and fiction, it is the process of writing
that drives me. Not any satisfaction with the poem, story or essay
that might finally result.
So, there we are.
Daniel Klawitter (another VerseWrights poet) has a new poem which will be published in a few days entitled "All the Poets." It ends with these three lines on how poets are always...
Searching for the perfect words
in the perfect order
on the most elusive subjects.
So, we suffer--and it's fun. Except when it becomes overwhelmingly frustrating.
Then, we just start a new poem, no matter how hard that one may get...
➙Your response is always welcomed.