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Does your poetry need refining?

October 15th, 2010

Having worked from my present home as a tutor for 35 years, I amassed enough paperwork to account for the demolition of a couple of forests.  When I cleared it all out to prepare my study for decorating, one of the things I unearthed was my leather bound Complete Works of  Shakespeare, originally my Nana’s school prize.  Riffling through the pages got me wondering which of today’s poets would still be read regularly in another four hundred years.

Guest blogger and award winning poet, Alison Chisholm

Of course, Shakespeare was a perfectionist.  The wordplay and rhyming quality of his sonnets, the depth of his philosophy, the tailoring of humour to appeal to his audience and the sheer music of his blank verse contribute to his genius.  But as Thomas Edison pointed out, genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

I have to keep reminding myself of that ratio.  You may have discovered a brilliant idea, but it’s what you do with it during and after the first draft that converts it into a brilliant poem – or not.  I always promise myself that I’ll spend at least double the time on revision that I spent on producing the first draft … and then repeat the revision process several times over.  If the ratio of creative time to revision time is 1:99, perhaps I’ll be on the right track.

So I come back to all today’s poets, and wonder again whose work will stand the test of time.  I know at once whose won’t – those writers who see no point in grammatical and technical accuracy, punctuation and sentence structuring, perfect application of rhyme and metre, seeking out original and exciting imagery, making the best possible word choices.  And whose will?  It could be any of us who collect that 1% chance of good luck, a.k.a. inspiration; as long as we put in the 99% work.

Back to the study.  Anyone recommend a foolproof way to strip 35 year old wallpaper?

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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