|Cover art for the book by Garth Bowden|
Had a hectic yet exciting few days last week going through and editing the final draft of my book of poems Human Form, the culmination of a long, often arduous process of writing, rewriting, sifting, sorting, cutting, changing, tweaking and deleting to finally come out with what is hopefully a book that in its own way and in its own time breathes and speaks.
You learn an immense amount just from living with familar poems so intimately and so critically; you gain a novel perspective on passages and lines that are years old but suddenly open out in unanticipated directions just by being placed in juxtaposition to create a larger, roomier whole. What seemed a ragtag of disparate fragments gleaned from a dozen places you've lived in over the years, written in a seemingly arbitrary succession of attempts at a style, of experiments in form and tone and sound, finally jostle along together in the paper time-capsule of the manuscript, suddenly finding they have tacit themes in common, share links and contours, talk with the same accent.
Others have to go. I remember when young watching an Open University programme about film-editing and the tutor saying "You have to be prepared to cut your best scene": this has always stuck in my mind as a key artistic principle, twinned with Pound's "One definition of beauty: economy of means."Only during the editing of this book, however, have I really grown to understand the importance of sacrificing certain, previously-integral elements for the sake of the broader form one is aiming for. It's true, too, that sometimes it takes an external agent such as an editor to see what the writer him (or her-)self, with their head immersed within the text, can't; poetic decisions have to be weighed against more practical and readerly considerations to create a convincing, durable final draft.
One definition of poetry: human form. The book's published in the first week of March by Penned in the Margins.