One of the unsung forces in Vancouver of poetic prowess and community building is Elee Kraljii Gardiner. She is an adjunct member of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University and a freelance writer who teaches creative writing at the Carnegie Community Centre. She is the director of “Thursdays Writing Collective” and the founder of Otter Press. She was kind enough to answer my editing questions.
How do you work your way through revisions? Do you have any tricks or theories to removing commas, words or lines?
Simple tricks: time and a patient, nonjudgemental first reader!
I write in gushes, generating a lot and then settling into a fallow period that is perfect for tinkering. Punctuation is about breath and pause for me so after a piece has left my immediate concern – as in the thrill has worn off- and I return to it with less familiarity, I can see where I stumble as a reader.
I like to read through to take out adverbs. If I’m using too many adverbs I need a stronger verb. But every piece arrives idiosyncratically and demands different attentions.
Robert Lowell wrote that “Revision is inspiration.” To what extent do you think that’s true? How would you rewrite Lowell: “Revision is __________”
Revision is liking hooking up with your first lover years later. You have such tenderness for the poem’s intent, it’s charm and awkwardness, but you are clear about why things can’t stay as they are.
Any pet peeves when it comes to editing your own work or someone else’s?
Oh, sure, I have a couple: when someone confuses editing with rewriting and obliterates the voice of the piece. Conversely, when someone asks for feedback but fights every idea with a closed mind. Both drive me nuts.
Are there any lines from an early draft of a poem that you’d like to share? What ideas, principles or gut feelings guided you through those changes?
I have a few lines that are renting space in poems where they don’t belong. I know they will find their fixed address when the right piece arrives but I feel like a mom waiting for her slacker 30 year old son to get off the couch. I keep suggesting new locales but the kid picks up the remote and ignores me.