Revision (2)

Because a poet knows what is behind her lines, it’s easy to forget that a stranger doesn’t. Where is the action happening? Who is doing it? When is everything going on (at a single moment in time or over several weeks), and so on? Sometimes, detail is so sparse or vague, the poem reads like a private conversation with somebody else, or abstractions and generalities substitute for evoking sensuous images and simply tell about an idea. Conversely, vibrant details may be present in the poem, but appear too late, only after readers have already filled in the gaps with their own misleading guesses. Although the first draft wells up from within, revising also requires a poet to project outside her own skull and determine what further cues readers need to focus their mental picture.