Thursday, June 30, 2016

Writer's Quotes - Jane Yolen

A guest post: Jane Yolen

This month's thought on writing: 
Poetry especially is not a One/Done writing activity. I constantly revisit and revise my poems. I read each line aloud to test its rhythm. I roll it around my tongue to find the sweet spot in each line. I tighten and cut to make the poem more compressed. I search out the sense and sensibility of the whole.
Sometimes I read a new poem to my critique group--an ongoing (40 years) group of seven professional and very well regarded children's bookwriters. Each day I see something good and something that needs work in a particular poem. Each word in a poem is sacred. So it better be the right one. Maybe I make a single word change, or add a new line, or an entire verse. Sometimes I take them out. 
The great French poet and philosopher Paul Valery said that a poem is never finished but abandoned. He didn't mean abandoned as in throwing the poem away. He meant there comes a moment when the poet abandons the poem to the universe, having given that particular poem his/her best shot at perfection. (And note the last part of that word. Uni-VERSE.) 
Time to write a new one. 
How many times do I revisit a poem? As many times as it needs. I often revise a poem 20-30 times before abandonment.

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