The Evolution of a Poem

Evolution of "To a Swallow", 04 May 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.

It has been some time since I have shared the development of a poem visually. Here is the evolution of “To a Swallow”, from its first sketch to its current state, presented in two columns. The red text is notes, the colourful lettering how I keep track of alliteration, and the highlighted text those variations I am actively exploring towards the final work.

In the weeks to come, this welter of words will arrange itself into a traditional poem. By then, the word count of the document will likely be 13–15,000 words—it is now about 5000 (the final poem will be about 80)—needless to say, it will be some time before I arrive at a final draft. Incidentally, there are 16 poems completed (since 2017) and 28 unfinished—publishing in 2020 may be a somewhat optimistic goal!

Working on a collection of poetry, I find that I must also consider the issue of repetition. For example, a line may work well in more than one poem, but it must be sacrificed in all other instances (regardless of whether it is differently expressed) in order to preserve its impact (in that instance where it is best used) within the collection as a whole.