Do you practice condensation or concision when you revise your poetry? Find out if you fit into one of these two camps, or none of the above at this thoughtful post by poet Scott Edward Anderson (That includes a great poem) here.
Today we are finally going to get into editing and improving trouble lines. By that I mean those pesky lines that derail the flow of your poem. After the revisions that I have made I feel that this poem is getting close to the point where I would feel comfortable sharing it with an audience at my local slam. Please comment on the changes and let me know if you think that the new revision is better or worse than the last and tell me why (I know it’s a lot to ask for on these internets).
Let’s get down to the nity grity! I made a rather critical post last week about the conventions that are taught as gospel on college campuses concerning creative writing. Today I am going to have to eat some of those words (without invalidating my argument by the way), because I feel that there is too much abstraction at the beginning of my poem. So I have exercised the line “I, the product of white flight” and replaced it with the more concrete image of “I, my White folks beat feet” which I feel is more lyrical and concrete. Even though I love the phrase “White Flight” for its inherent Poetry I feel that the new line is better for the reasons described above.
The next lines I looked at were “pure intention” and “poorly chosen words”. These lines are simple straight to the point and maybe worth keeping, but for this revision I opted for more figurative language so they are now replaced with: “intentions like water” “but words that burn”.
Gash has a connotation that I don’t want anywhere near my poem and I could not find a suitable replacement so that bit has been removed entirely.
This concludes my commentary about the bulk of the changes that I have made. I have been thinking about adding more biblical imagery which led to the new lines concerning Passover.
Lastly I still need to come up with a more effective creation to replace “smiling at dark faces” and “still singles out race” because the message is good, yet to literal for maximum impact. Maybe my hand full of readers might be kind enough to help me brainstorm some ideas.
Finally I am proud to present the new re-envisioning of Cracker
I, my white folks beat feet
He, the product of able bodies
Me, my name is Cobb
He, his name was Cobbs
My intentions like water
But with words that burn
Shed light on ignorance
Reopen old wounds
Wounds that pass-over, yet passed on to sacrificial children
Wounds that over-look the shades of sharecroppers’ fields
Feels, now my tongue now the lash
A rash, realization
Of past realities is robbing me of the breath that my name betrayed.
It starts with the blood. Like verse from the book. That speaks of the sin which our fathers partook.
Now stains the hands of the son.
The mark of Cain cannot be whitewashed…
Our intentions are in question
Smiling cause they’re dark
Perpetuate crimes through kindness
Seldom, letting dark souls just be soul
Lord knows, my ignorance and stupidity has often come back to label me, cracker.
And I say “god”.
If I’m a cracker
I want to be an animal cracker
Oh yes Jesus
Make me a cookie
You see, cookies only have wet backs when you lick them. Colors mean flavors and nothing more. Parents don’t care if you love the dark ones.
The many sizes and shapes are all sweet and you never have to worry about the macaroons attacking the pecan-sandies for their shelf space.
I wonder can you be institutionalized for expressing a desire to be snack food?
If that’s the greater absurdity
Then I confess my insanity
Because I never want to relive the shame I felt when I learned why you never call a black man boy.