Saturday, 6 March 2021

Stephen Jackson : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I think over time I’ve come to trust my own judgement about when a poem is ready to stand on its own. It requires a little faith and trust in what has been given to me. A poem, through revision, is vulnerable to losing that mysterious something that imbued it with a life of its own in the first place, though a trace of it may still have flickered there after the third or twenty-third draft. One can’t always be like the parent who says, “You will not leave this house dressed like that!” Sometimes you just have to let them go, allow them to be themselves. As a general rule, I do consider a poem that has been published finished. An acceptance is a sigh of relief, like the kid finally got their own apartment, now I can focus on the ones (I believe) still need me.

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