When I’m putting together a poetry book, I typically take a group of poems and then start cutting… I toss aside poems that I don’t feel are to be published (not everything you write should be published) or ones I don’t feel are me, or ones I just don’t feel are very good. I usually have a theme in mind before I start editing, so then start grouping poems into chapters of the theme I’ve decided on for that particular book.
Then, I give it all over to my first reader and editor, my husband. He doesn’t typically like poetry so his opinions are good for me to hear. He’s honest. He’ll tell me what he likes and doesn’t like. Sometimes he’ll even take a poem I have decided will not go into a book and tell me it should. (I’m my worst critic very often with my writing.)
This poem, “By Poetry,” is one that he liked and I didn’t at first. I like the simplicity of it, but didn’t know if it would fit into the book I was doing at the time, which was a “new and selected” version, with older poems mixed in with new ones. The general vibe of that book is about building on the things you learned in your past to create a strong future.
My husband’s feedback saved this poem from the digital shredder. He says it represents how I deal with life’s challenges. I like that thought.
I will write poetry today.
I will pull up my sadness by the string that winds its way around my soul.
I will pull until my heart is free from its weight,
and the string will tie words together which bring beauty in its place
and that heaviness that followed me everywhere
will be replaced by poetry.
© Cherie Burbach, “By Poetry” New and Selected Poems, 2011