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Bring up the poems (are they dead or sleeping?)

As part of my autumn poetry reactivation plan (sounds good, eh?) I’ve signed up for an online course from the Poetry’s School with Karen McCarthy Woolf. It’s a feedback course for the ‘general improvement of left-for-dead poems in need of resuscitation’. This premise really appealed to me – having quite a few poems languishing at the moment, some of which I feel at the end of my editorial tether (with). (Apologies for the clumsy construction, but since I’m off duty while writing this I feel able to mush over any dodgy grammar or whatever. It’s the equivalent of pulling on a onesie and eating a takeaway while watching TV. I’m at home. Off duty.)

Putting Baby to Bed

Soooo … time to dust off some old pomes. While we’re on the subject, I should mention that I was pleased to find out that South have taken two poems of mine for their autumn issue, just when I’d thought they wouldn’t find a home. I did think I wasn’t going to submit to South again, but when it came to it I just felt those poems belonged there, so I’m glad the selectors felt the same. It’s an unusual setup there – no one editor, but a committee, of which (as far as I can tell) two or three people act as selectors for each issue. Although submissions are anonymous, there’s a distinctive consistency about the poems chosen. For example, my Lewes cohort Jeremy Page manages to have something in every single issue – what gives, JP?? – and other names too are ‘regulars’. The magazine doesn’t include poet biogs (which is a shame) but it does have a launch event for each issue (which is good).

Anyway, I digress – my question to you is, when do you leave a poem for dead? Is it ever actually ‘dead’, or just sleeping gently in a drawer until you bring it out for another airing? Do you have any good success stories about poems you resurrected after a long period of time? I’d love to hear them.

0 Comments on “Bring up the poems (are they dead or sleeping?)

  • Jennifer
    August 13, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I come back about a month later, “improve”. then next day reread and go hmm, and oftten it goes back to the first polished version I always keep copies, and also copy paste poem, call it version 2 or 3 or whatever, and do the alterations on that as otherwise ican’t remember my original lines! I email myself copy on gmail so even if computer goes phut I still have a copy.

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      August 14, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Jennifer – you sound very organised! I keep different versions of poems and *sometimes* go back to old versions. I also tend to print out an old poem to look at it on paper before working on afresh. Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Reply
  • socialbridge
    August 14, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    ‘Never say dead’ is my motto. While I can’t claim wonderful success with poems I’ve left for years and dusted off, I CAN say that I’ve looked at some of them and been quite amazed that they are in my writing. It can be like another ‘you’ is involved in the re-working.
    Your course sounds like a brilliant idea!

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      August 14, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Hi Jean – yes I agree, it can be fascinating to read a poem after some time has gone by, and sometimes in a good way! And yes, I’m looking forward to the course and will blog about it as I go along.

      Reply
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