It's January 2nd, do you know where your poems are?


While cleaning my desk yesterday I found poems. Yes, poems I had started then got behind on, then they slipped out of my mind and I went on to something else. I also found a folder with poems and notes on revising them from my workshop group.

It's both annoying and exciting to find these new/old poems. Part of me thinks, Be a little more organized, will ya? The other part says, Yeah! A poem to revise!

I have started keeping a small notebook on my desk with the titles of the poems I am working on. This year it's the Women Artists Datebook 2009 published by Syracuse Cultural Workers and what I like about this is that I can keep track of dates when poems were born.

In my computer, I keep two folders-- In Process (where I save poems I just wrote or am revising or that I feel just aren't good enough yet) and Completed Poems (which is as you guessed, poems that are finished and ready to send out to the world).

Normally, on a writing day I open my In Process folder and sort it by date. I choose maybe 5-7 poems to open into new documents at once. I flip through these poems until I find something that interests me then begin revising. When I get tired or stuck on that poem, I flip to another. Some have asked how I can concentrate on more than one poem at once and for me, what this does is take the importance off of each of the poems. There is nothing that can stop me more than having only one poem to work on at a time. It makes that poem see too important (pronounced "im-POOOOR-tant" - with an accent).

If I haven't written in awhile and try to write a new poem, it may feel hard. However, if I allow myself to write the bad stuff along with the good, writing becomes easier because I am allowing myself to play without judgment or by putting too much importance on a piece. I do write a lot, but the majority of my "poems" never go on to become poems. They spend their life in the In Process file hoping for a good revision. And if they don't get one, they are happy there as there's a lot of first drafts with good personalities to keep them entertained.

So while I tend not to make the resolution "I will not lose poems" because honestly, I know a poem is never lost, this year, I'm interested in documenting the beginnings of poems and essays in my desk calendar. And still keeping that little index card on my desk with the titles of poems I'm working on. Sometimes I think I'm just having my own love affair/environment disaster with paper as it seems to always be surrounding me. (Side note: once in my twenties I went to a psychic who said, "I'm not sure what you will be doing in your thirties, but I see you completely surrounded by paper." ) This could be any day of my life in my 30's!

Anyway, I have mentioned my poetry process before, but someone asked, so there you go. Plus the new detail of the desk calendar, I'll tell you how this works as well as I'll end this post with a writing exercise--

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Writing Exercise--

New Year's Poem

***Make a list of at least 10 specific items or images that you saw, touched, tasted, or heard on Dec 31st or January 1st. Now write down 4 things that you did either on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

Now write a poem that includes two of the things you did on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day as well as 6 of the items/images from your list.

Happy 2009!


  1. Thanks for this writing prompt--I came up with an intriguing start on a prose poem, a type of poem I rarely write. I thought my poem would be full of only food images, but that was not the case (I focused on my recalcitrant computer instead). I wouldn't have come up with this poem without your prompt--so again, thanks--and Happy New Year.

  2. Kristin--

    That's great! congrats on the poem and happy 09 to you too!

  3. Great idea for a prompt. I'm in that spot where I have to allow myself to write bad poems to get a few good ones. So I may come back in a day or two to your prompt.

    I have no real system when it comes to organizing poems. Wish I did. I revise on hard copy, and make the changes on my computer. But no real organization other than creating a 2009 folder for poems.

    Thanks for sharing your process.

    Happy New Year!


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