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.