Catherine Wagner | Revision           (page 4)

I have tried revising a poem to improve it as communication and make it do what I wanted it to do. Usually when I revise thus, the wavelengths that buzzed around the words I had put together cease buzzing and die. The changes collapse the mysterious invisible living castle spun into the air by the poem’s interactions. When I revise in order to tame the anomaly the poem presents, its harmonics go inaudible and invisible. I have to let the anomaly show itself if I want the poem to live. One way to do so is to try to see the anomaly: hypnotize myself, trick myself into looking at the poem in some new way. Or to go hyper-self-conscious and notice the quotes I put around the world as it addresses me. A third way is to casually revise without meaning to do anything at all, save all drafts, and wait until the anomaly sorts itself into something I can view without panic. Usually I can’t wait; instead I slaughter and reslaughter the poem and ship it off dead to a magazine, which publishes it perhaps. Then it blows back to me arriviste and I hate it as self.

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