Sunday, August 17, 2008

Failed Poems

Sometimes a newly written poem can feel just right but when returned to a few hours later the problems and holes in it stare you in the face yet they can usually be fixed through redrafting.

It's not often (I don't think!) I write a completely failed poem where it's just not working on any level and no amount of redrafting will salvage it. Today was one of those days. I tried something different, posted the result briefly and now it's gone.

To spend hours working on a poem that turns out to be terminally problematic or frankly a pile of mince is annoying to say the least, yet I think it's important to try out different styles / themes, to challenge my writing comfort zone so I don't end up in a poetic rut.


Crafty Green Poet said...

It is frustrating when that happens but maybe something can be rescued from it in the future? A line or a phrase to resurrect in a different form? I agree its important to try out different styles etc to challenge your comfort zone...

Jim Murdoch said...

I used to sweat over poems for a long time, months on end actually and then one day I realised that trying to be word perfect was pointless because of the very nature of words. Now I write very quickly and the guts of a poem will be done in a few minutes. If I'm struggling with it after about a half-hour I'll usually save it on my desktop and stumble across it a few days – or even weeks – later. I've just checked and I have 5 poems in the Poetry folder dating back to January and I couldn't tell you what any one of them is about and that's the best place to approach a work in progress from believe you me.

There's constructive work and destructive. You just have to learn that point when you see you're starting to make a mess of what had some potential and stop, just stop, and go and do something else.

SarahJane said...

i don't think anything is waste, really, even when you throw it away.

Sorlil said...

hi cgp, there's a few lines that will probably make it into another poem at some point, I think the main problem was that there was the seeds of more than poem in it and that's why it refused to come together.

hi jim, sometimes I get stuck in a rut of trying to perfect a line that I lose the momentum of the poem, it's something I battle with constantly when writing.

hi sarahjane, that's a nice way to look at it and I agree, kind of like failure as a part of progress

shug said...

Failed Wee Poems Exact Some Small Revenge on the Poet

When the light goes off
the blank page you left
sparkles in streetlight
like snow. It’s perfect
but you’ll be back

to spoil it. At night
we think about what might
have been, if that line
had been just right,
that rhythm less flat,

if you were any good, in fact.
We were battered out and sent
half made into the world,
now we hang about the shelves
all day, your dead-end kids.

Here’s a clear image
at last, to define a quarter
century’s struggle:
tyro, middle aged,
distils boredom into dross
with a shovel.

Sorlil said...

ha, very good. I like it, especially the title!

Dave King said...

I do get this feeling of hitting a brick wall sometimes. The only thing to try (for me, that is, I cannot speak for others) is to take something from the body of the poem, or maybe just from the original thought or idea that started it off, and promote or demote it to somewhere else in the poem. You then rewrite rather than redraft it. Doesn't always work, though! Increasingly I feel that there is no point in struggling; if it will not flow, at least to some extent, you're better off with a fresh start.

Sorlil said...

thanks for the tip dave, having had a couple of days away from it I can see that I was trying to make the poem about something that it just wasn't about, always a bad idea!