"[P]oetry makes nothing happen: it survives, / [...] a way of happening, a mouth." -W. H. Auden

Friday, August 27, 2010

Those Who Wield the Pen Must Also Wield the Scalpel: Installation #1

There are many well-known poems that have enjoyed wide recognition despite (what I consider) fairly obvious weaknesses that could have been remedied by a good editor. I will offer a short poem as my first example, with other examples to follow in future installations in this series. So, allow me to offer for your consideration the oft-anthologized poem "Keeping Things Whole" by Mark Strand. For copyright reasons, I refer you to the link attached to the poem title instead of reproducing the full text here. I love this poem, but I think there is a definite weak point. My suggestion for improving the poem is simple: Cut lines 4-7. Read it that way. What do you think? These lines seem overly-explanatory and redundant. They say in a less interesting way what is already said better by the other lines of the poem. The economy of the language in this poem also begs for eliminating all superfluities. Moral of the story: Those who wield the pen must also wield the scalpel.

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