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Sewing tighter the gap between expression and reality

The reading on October 29 in honor of Fomite Press went off very well. Attendance and book sales exceeded my expectations, my reading was very well received, and several people came up
to me afterwards to tell me about ways in which my poems had moved them. It doesn't get much better than that!

During a break in the program, I had an interesting conversation with a fellow poet about revision. I know him through our mutual attendance at a monthly, local, open reading series. I complimented him on his work, which seems to me recently to have taken on a new life and accessibility . He told me about a theory he'd encountered, to the effect that revising a manuscript can be harmful because it
constitutes tinkering with the poet's original perception of what the poem wants to say. This theory wasn't entirely persuasive to him, but he thought there was something to it.

The problem I saw with the theory, I replied, was that it misunderstands the nature of the revision process. To me, revision is a conversation between the poet and the poem, in which the poet asks the poem questions intended to find words that will help the poem better express itself. The nature of language makes it impossible to give the poem perfect verbal expression, but skillful, respectful interrogation of the poem's needs can lead the poet to give it words that indicate the truth of the matter by their very inadequacies and imprecisions, which point beyond the words to the poem itself. For me, I said, good poetry is found in that gap between what words can say directly and the thing they are talking about, in how well the words point you through that gap at the thing itself.