Anyone who calls themselves a writer knows that revision is no walk in the park — unless, of course, that saying was invented by a writer who knew that parks are just really sites of distraction, AKA time when you're not working on your writing, AKA trouble. Revision is hard work, even when it's fun. (And yes, sometimes, it gets to be totally fun.) When the fun quotient is zero and the work is beyond arduous, you may be tempted to... well, do just about anything. (That's how bad revising can be!) Fortunately, you can save yourself the agony of totally losing your writer vibe by doing some reading that's guaranteed to help you revise. Folks, you know I'm talking about poems.
Another writer's novel might get in your brain, and turning to a perfect short story can just incite wordsmith envy, but a poem is the surefire solution to upping your revision game. For starters, even if you read the poem to give yourself a breather, you'll feel virtuous, like you're doing literary work. But more importantly, these poems will help you re-see your process. They'll help you gain some perspective on what it means to be crafting something out of words.
Put down that red pen or Post-It note, writer, and read one of these seven poems.
1"Kafka's Axe & Michael's Vest" by Chen Chen
Days like this, the right silence can be an action, an axe,
right through the frozen sea, as Kafka calls for. A necessary
opening. Though silence can also be a shattering, closing.
2"Painting vs. Poetry" by Bill Knott
is the shadow writing its
name upon the person.
3"Aubade to Langston" by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
I listen to you again beneath the mercy
of a blue morning’s grammar.
4"The Perfect Poem" by Kaveh Akbar
The perfect poem is no bigger
than a bear. Its birthday hat comes with
a black veil which prattles on and on about
comet ash and the ten thousand buds of
5"Delta Flight 659" by Denise Duhamel
Look, Sean Penn, the clouds are drawn with charcoal pencils.
The sky is opening like a child’s first stab at penmanship.
The sun begins to ripen orange, then deepen.
6"On Gathering Artists" by Alberto Ríos
How easy to spend a day writing a poem,
How hard to spend a life writing a thousand.
7"Dream of Heaven" by Chard de Niord
I’d read and read since I’d be done
with sleeping, but dreaming, no, still dreaming
a lot. I’d live to live again with moments
of dying to see how “lucky” I was.