(Lise Day, Elaine Edwards, Michael Keeling, Pamela Newham, Angela Prew, Cornelia Rohde, Elizabeth Trew, Annette Snyckers)
How to Hone a Poem
Mary Oliver writes, “I usually revise through 40 or 50 drafts of a poem before I begin to feel content with it.” Revision needs energy, honesty, patience and a passion for language. Come hear how a group of poets help one another with the fascinating work of shaping a poem.
‘Well, write poetry, for God’s sake, it’s the only thing that matters.’
e e cummings
Seven years ago, a group of poets stimulated by Finuala Dowling’s UCT Summer School course decided to meet monthly to share their work. They chose the name Pleached Poetry, meaning interlaced or plaited.
New poems are emailed to the eight members the day before a session, so that hard copies can be brought to read aloud. All of us understand that in the writing of a poem, nothing, if it is done well and works to the desired effect, is wrong. It is a gift to have someone notice when a poem is constructed simply, freshly and clearly, but it is equally helpful if someone is aware of lacklustre images, monotonous lines, or sloppy grammar, and will point them out as diplomatically as possible. Over the years we have become adept both at giving praise and voicing reservations. It is not unusual to spend quite a bit of time debating the strength of one adjective against another or whether it should be left out altogether. Poets often defend their choices passionately and there’s no pressure to make unwanted changes. Our ideas are no more than suggestions to be accepted or rejected.
As we’ve been brought together by our love of language and verse, there is always plenty of robust discussion and a great deal of laughter. Sharing the process of writing within a supportive group has encouraged our creativity, and provided us with an attentive audience of discerning, intertwined poetry enthusiasts.
Pleached Poets: Lise Day, Elaine Edwards, Michael Keeling, Pamela Newham, Angela Prew, Cornelia Rohde, Elizabeth Trew, Annette Snyckers.
Find out more about Pleached Poetry: https://thepoetryplatform.wordpress.com/