Poetry Revision by Gemma Collins

Recently, Creative Writing concluded its poetry unit, leaving me reflecting on my new perceptions of poetry. Throughout the unit in Creative Writing I, the many steps of poetry revision became apparent as we revised the same poems over and over. We generated poems from in-class prompts and homework assignments, and were expected to revise independently. Later, we held group workshopping sessions to gather peer opinions on our work. Workshopping in class gives the opportunity for second opinions and collaborative feedback, where each student also had the chance to ask questions about how to improve their work. After this initial group workshop, we revised our poems again. I found this lengthy process helpful because we had adequate time to realize our intentions for each piece. When we turned in the final poems, I figured that we had created our final drafts. Much to my surprise, the homework over winter break was to revise yet another time, using all of the tools we had learned throughout the unit.

Starting the final revision process was daunting because we had learned so much over the unit. I didn’t know how to demonstrate a whole unit’s worth of learning into several short poems.  I decided what I wanted most from my poems was a clear purpose. This meant rewriting my poems several times until they felt complete. I aimed to reach the point when all the elements in a poem worked together to reveal some insight into what it means to be human. After repeated revisions, achieving this balance seemed less impossible.

The most significant lesson I’ve learned was the ability to focus on creating a powerful poem rather than resisting revision. I learned that a poem can truly flourish only when I  reconsider possibilities. At the beginning of the unit I was overly-attached to my writing and wary of critics, but as my first year in Creative Writing progresses, I embrace the power of revision and I can already see the improvement I have made.

By Gemma Collins

Class of 2023

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