Tiny Machines & Gorgeous Time Bombs

by Alex Felix

This semester I’m taking a poetry workshop with Cynthia Cruz. We had our first class meeting on Wednesday & she’s already shared some great advice about poetry and the writing process. One idea worth passing on is Cynthia’s description of poems as “these mean, tiny machines.” I love that description because (1) it’s just cool and (2) it reinforces the idea that every line, every break, every image, every word in a poem needs to work and work well in order for the poem to “run” smoothly.

I’ve noticed that I often have lines in my poem that are just… there. I wrote them and since they “felt right” I kept them. I want to think about those kinds of lines and give them a clear purpose in the poem. And if I can’t find a purpose for them, one of two things needs to happen: (1) Revise the poem so that the mysterious line actually becomes the heart of the poem. (2) Cut the line from the poem entirely & save the line for later.

Hopefully, doing so will allow me to use another one of Cynthia’s catch phrases to describe my poems: “gorgeous ticking time bombs.”

If you want to read more about Cynthia’s work & writing process, check out this interview.

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One response to “Tiny Machines & Gorgeous Time Bombs

  1. need to share this one on twitter and facebook. great tips on those lines that seem wonderful, yet, may not actually be part of the poem they started in 🙂

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