Friday, February 14, 2020

3 Poems: Revise, Change, Break the Rules!

Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday! (see link at the end)

Before I forget, if you live near Los Angeles, author/illustrator Barney Saltzberg, author Alexis O'Neill and I are once again teaching our one day class at UCLA, Writing a Picture Book and Getting it Published on March 7, 2020.
This class is always a kick and a half.  I hope to see some of you there!

Today is TeachingAuthors final post on "Revisioning 20/20"...and, as usual, we're all looking at this through a different pair of glasses. Bobbi introduces the topic in a post called Unsinkable, Carmela's brings in author Shirin Shamsi for A Wednesday Writing Workout called Befriending the  Revision Monster,  Mary Ann's is Revision: Re-learning to See, Esther's is One Writer's Rx for Achieving 20/20 Vision in 2020!, Gwendolyn's is Revising My Writing Life, Carmela's is called Celebrating Post #1300 and Revision as Re-Seeing, and Esther brings us debut author Mary Sandford in A Wednesday Writing Workout called Seven Ways to Beat Writer's Block.

Today, for your listening pleasure, I will post three poems.

Please give a warm welcome to Poem #1, on REVISION (previously posted here in 2009):

by April Halprin Wayland

I push open
the heavy door.
I take out the cleaver, the machete,
the switchblade, the scalpel, the penknife,
the X-acto knife.

I plunge my arm into the oily black pile of drafts
and haul one out.
And though it screams a thousand deaths,
I stab it over and over and over with the cleaver,
hacking it in two.

Then I amputate.
I sever. I cut.
I carve.  I slice.
I mince words.

I take a breath and step back to admire my bloody work.
Then…I drop it back into the oily depths,
pack away the knives,
wipe the black spots off my desk
and leave.

I close the heavy door.
I will come back.
To do it all

Egad! That's a grim one. If my poems have been edited (that poem needs to be even shorter!), I've changed, too. Though it still scares the bejeebers out of me, I don't see revision as quite as grisly these days. My writing (my life) will never be perfect. 

And speaking of being scared, Poem #2, a poem about working with Play Doh, is about the fear of being edited. (For a nonfiction poem and my Play Doh related editing exercise, click here):

by April Halprin Wayland

I pinch a pink pig,
gash a green grape,
coil a coral curl,
roll a red rope,
bend a blue bow,
swerve a cyan swan,
then share what I make!

hey, don't change that!
No pig wears a hat!
No swan puts rouge on!
Oh, wait—that's a squid.
I like
what you did.

In proposing this topic, Carmela brought a thread of tweets from Debbie Ridpath Ohi to our attention. One says: “I'm a big believer in stepping out of one's comfort zone on a regular basis to avoid complacency & getting into a rut. I may fail spectacularly (& have) but picking myself up & persevering makes me stronger. If I succeed, my comfort zone's a wee bit bigger.”

Well!  That sounds good!  To me, getting out of a rut means breaking the rules! This year I am becoming aware of all the rules I lock into my life...and I'm ditching some of them.

photo by stevesphar from pixabay

And so we come to our final poem, Poem #3:

by April Halprin Wayland

She wants one of those adorable gardens
with straight mounds of earth labeled
carrots, radishes, peas.

She wishes her grandmother had made a video
explaining how, exactly, you're supposed to tamp down
all these leaves, sticks, clods, roots flat as a tabletop.

Who knows the garden rules?
What ifshe does it wrong?

drawings and poems © 2020 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

posted with love and a little help from Eli (my dog), Penny and Gin (our son and soon-to-be-daughter-in-law's dogs), shown here:


Linda B said...

Love each one, glad you've veered away from the shivering violence! The telling line to me feels like one that often lurks inside: "What if we get it wrong?" Thanks, April, always wishing I could take your class! Happy Valentine's Day!

Linda Kulp Trout said...

I like the idea of breaking the rules! Your class sounds wonderful. Happy Valentine's Day!

Janice Scully said...

Your revision poem really spoke to me, as grizzly as it was. Writing is so hard. I really enjoyed your poems, so descriptive with a good amount of humor. I've often wondered about garden rules wish a garden would magically appear in my yard.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Yes, yes, Janice! If only the perfect garden would magically appear!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Happy Valentine's Day to you, too, Linda <3

April Halprin Wayland said...

That line lurks beneath my life too often, Linda...time to plant a more beautiful mantra.

Karen Eastlund said...

Ahhhh, the garden. So fun to plan, plant and water for the first month. So hard to weed, swat bugs and wait for the final product! Fun post, tho... thanks so much! I should ditch some rules too!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

I love your three different approaches to revision. And every piece of writing needs its own method, doesn't it? I often think of ways that gardening is like revising--all that weeding, transplanting, combining, and rearranging. Yes to breaking the rules!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Karen ~ the more people I share my thoughts about rules with, the more I discover have rules of their own...we're not alone! And now that we're adults, we get to jettison any or all of them--whoo-hoo!

Yes, every piece of writing asks for its own method of writing and then of revision, JoAnn. I'll bet your garden is that classic picture book garden I always drool over...!

Cheriee Weichel said...

I enjoyed all of these. I love the creepy humour of the first one, but as a gardener, that last one hits the spot for me.
I have bookmarked your page to come back to and follow all the links.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Cheriee ~ thanks for coming by and for bookmarking the links. Glad you liked it 🌞

Linda Mitchell said...

oooooh, this post has nudged me more than you know. I'm up to my eyeballs in old black inky drafts. Thanks!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Right now, Linda, you are a braver woman than I am, and so I in turn, take inspiration from you!

Carol Varsalona said...

April, here's to chopping up, etc. drafts and then doing it all over again. That seems to be what I do barring the blood and gore routine. Thanks for the bit of comedic humor tonight.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Carol ~ Glad you liked it...I was searching my poems for "revison," "edit," "draft," etc and that one popped up. I hadn't read it in years and was surprised how bloody it was!

Ruth said...

I love all of those. I am thinking my students might like the violent revision one. Maybe I'll share it with them. :-)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Ruth ~ Please do! What ages are your students? I'd love to hear their reactions!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

I like what you did, April!

Indeed, I - always - like what you do.

I'm with you on breaking rules.

Do you think it's an age thing? :)

Your Fan Esther

April Halprin Wayland said...

Yes, Esther, I do think it's partly an age thing. Those calming hormones are a blessing.

Carmela Martino said...

Hi April, I meant to comment on this post but never did. All three of your poems gave me much to ponder, but I was especially struck by the last line of the last one:
What if she does it wrong?

This is my constant fear with my current WIP. But acknowledging that fear is the first step in overcoming it! 💕

April Halprin Wayland said...

You're right, Carmela. You might be interested in this author interview from NPR: the complicated pursuit of perfection