Season of Revisions

Now we come to the Season of Revisions. I am not only speaking of poetry here; I am speaking poetically. I have habits of mind and habits of space and movement to revise and to refine. I have thoughts and ideas, plans and intentions to revise and to renovate. Perhaps my poetic revisions can be like a wave that will help me in other areas to continue to move always in the direction I want to move, to break the stasis, to step out of the rut, to live–as US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera says, “in a flourishing way.”

Earlier in the month of April, I tossed out this poem one evening:

Message from the Empress

In the orchard over the ridge
the trees have broken into a riot of pink,
lascivious against the rain-wet grass beneath.

Let us riot too.

Let us spread
our blooming fingers to the sky,
opening our mouths and our hearts,
meeting destruction with bloom,
with green, with simple beauty,
with overpowering fragrance.

Let us waft.
Let us be wanton.

Last week I subjected it to a several-step revision process that I asked my Creative Writing students to engage in:

Step One:
Change up the line lengths. Consider tossing in some tabs to change the shape of the poem on the page. Or center. Or right-justify.

Step Two:
Find six interesting words in your poem. Using an online thesaurus, your own head, or the help of a friend, write three+ synonyms for each word, and substitute them for the words in your poem.

Step Three:
Go back to Step Two. Retype those six words, or choose six more. Find three+ rhymes for each of those words, using an online rhyming dictionary, or the help of a friend or your own head. Can you tuck any of these words into your poem? Also, listen for words with similar sounds–vowels and consonants–even if they don’t rhyme. Can you add or substitute any of those words in your poem?

Step Four:
Rewrite your poem, using rhythm and rhyme. This one may feel like the most complicated one, but see if you can feel a sense of the rhythm of your words. (I have revised my revision process: originally I had steps three and four in opposite order. They make much more sense when you transpose them.)

Step Five:
Read through all your versions. Is there one that stands out as the strongest to you? Are there parts of different ones that you like? Mix and match. Choose your favorite version so far and type that one in.

I ended up with this:

Message from the Empress

In the grove over the ridge, the trees
have broken into a flourish of pink,
lascivious against the rain-wet green,
a thousand mouths seeking a drink.

Let us riot too.
     Let us fill our thirst.

Let us spread our blooming fingers,
opening our mouths and hearts, dancing
away ruin with bloom, lingering
with simple beauty, with aching fragrance.

Let us waft.
     Let us be wanton.

***
I’m still not sure that this is my best version, but I feel a real satisfaction. I hope my students can feel a little measure of that satisfaction with their own poems.

Gratitude List:
1. Wise and open-hearted colleagues
2. Sharing food
3. Revising, renewing, renovating, reactivating
4. Yellow feathers, yellow flowers
5. Breath. Inspiration. Breath.

May we walk in Beauty!

Let Us Waft. Let Us Be Wanton.


Message from the Empress

by Beth Weaver-Kreider

In the orchard over the ridge
the trees have broken into a riot of pink,
lascivious against the rain-wet grass beneath.

Let us riot too.
Let us spread
our blooming fingers to the sky,
opening our mouths and our hearts,
meeting destruction with bloom,
with green, with simple beauty,
with overpowering fragrance.

Let us waft.
Let us be wanton.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT
The Fool still has more mentors to meet. Tomorrow she encounters the Teacher, or Hierophant. Teachers who know their jobs are compassionate facilitators of learning, nurturing the curiosity of their students, drawing out their students’ own ideas and perspectives, providing spaces for the Aha! Teachers who don’t know their jobs are judgey and demanding, offering shame and guilt instead of encouraging a desire to learn for learning’s sake. Unlike the High Priestess who guards the Mysteries from those who are not prepared to learn (until they are ready), the Teacher entices the seekers into the realm of Knowledge.

Gratitude List:
1. I still can’t quite believe last night’s spectacle. It was heart-pounding and nerve-wracking, but I am grateful I got to see it. While I was watching Ellis’s baseball practice, I heard a screeching in the sky–a bald eagle was chasing an osprey. It went after it for quite a while before it gave up the chase.
2. Turkey feather
3. Mama goose so persistent on her nest despite the storms
4. I love being part of a school where the culture is one of giving to the community and to the world. Students WANT to get involved in projects to help out other humans.  I love these young people.
5. Tomorrow is an easy-plan day. I need a light day.

May we walk in Beauty!