Monday, July 18, 2005

Knowing when it works.

Last week I wrote two poems. I mananaged, with each of them, to cut to the raw of some truth, and I knew it when I did it. Now, when I reread them, I still feel it.

Since then, I have written two more, and although I worked harder on them, they don't have the same quality of pointed honesty that the others do. I think. I need to sit on them little--then we'll see.

That's how it happens with me: write it out, cut away the dross, take down the on-ramp (often my first stanza just turn out to be something to get me going), don't skimp on the end. Now, what's there? Is it honest?

I can't describe this sense of truth I strive for in my poetry. I just know it when I get it, and it doesn't happen every time. It's not entirely, but it is partially, emotional, psychological, physical, logical, and the result of experience.

Do you know when you get something right in your art, whether writing, sculpting, painting, etc.? How do you know it? How does truth hit you?


Pete said...

I know what you mean when yo utalk about how do you know when you get something right. But that, it think is what's great about it, even if you think it is perfect another person will think the opposite. Even if make what your trying to say perfectly clear someone will misinterpit it and take it for something totally different.
I love those poems that are totally raw and what i do is when i feel like writing i do and only speak what i want i don;t care if it flows or anything. Then later i'll go back to it and if i like what i'm saying and if i still feel that way then i'll polish it, no to much though i still want to feel it as if i had just written it. If that makes any sense then i'm glad. Who knows maybe i'm totally wrong, maybe i chose the wrong words but hey it's how i feel so that's the truth for me you know.

Gilbert Koh said...

When you get it right, you will never feel you have to write about that kind of topic .... ever again.

Anonymous said...

When I get it right, there is nothing else to do. I'm done.

And then I want to read and reread and sing it aloud. Out of fascination. Out of poking and prodding looking for and failing to find something wrong.

(I am in awe of the process, because it has become its own thing, alive and apart from me. I've channeled something through, and managed to stand aside enough while doing it to really hear and let it through.)

When I get it right it doesn't matter what anyone else says.

Too bad this doesn't happen all the time. ;-)


Liar said...

When I feel like I've "gotten it right", it's completely unreliable. It's like having an itch; it's a feeling, but it doesn't tell me anything about what I've produced.

I've got to let it sit, let it sit, let it sit. Sometimes it takes months for me to see just how awful something is, or how beautiful.

Amy said...


It is a good idea to let projects sit. That is the great way to get perspective on the work.