San Diego Poetry Guild

notes on guild, poetry, and San Diego


Poetic Method: Editing (part two)

Back in October (on Halloween, in fact), I posted a little something about editing and never got around to finishing it. I'll do that now but, first, to summarize that 10.31.2004 post:

A poetic document is always divided into a great number of separate pieces, and an actual poem, ready for use as poetry, must take into account this basic property of the poetic document. The construction of a poetic document from pieces is called editing.

Some basic rules of editing and poetic method:

1. All poetry begins with material, and this material is a kind of content.

2. In making poetry, we make choices (conscious/unconscious) about the material we use.

3. Choices with regard to material are instrumental to the editing process.

4. To edit (write) is to give material a certain relevance -- a social, which is to say aesthetic, relevance.

5. There are no good or bad editing choices. Different choices mean (deliver, encode) differently, and these differences may also affect the way we interact with (edit) material.

6. Whether it's jotting a word, deleting a frame, erasing a pencil mark, setting up a web page, tweeking a motion, adding a matte, rapping a mike, busting a move, signing a phrase, or whatever, these actions are kinds of editing, which means they give selected material a certain social (aesthetic) relevance.

7. Editing removes, or forecloses, other choices -- which is not to say that those other choices disappear or are rendered less meaningful.

8. Editing always delivers an outcome, but it is never a pure outcome.

9. Since there can be no poetic documents without editing, editing is primarily poetic, meaning strategic.

10. Editing always comes down to a strategic use of material toward a particular, if not necessarily planned, outcome.


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