That’s it, folks. I am giving myself until the end of this month to finish up my edits on Diwata, as I have done the major revision, and there is no reason not to finish the thing. It’s like going for the final kill. I’ve been fortunate to have readings here and there in the past few weeks, and have taken the opportunity to again read from Diwata, hear the awkward, tongue twisting, mouthful of peanut butter or metal moments in the work. I’ve known intuitively that the words and phrases I struggle over when performing would have to be rethought and reworked, that I’d have to honor enjambments and line breaks. It was timely to hear a couple of authors articulate these common sense items, which I think we conveniently forget when we get stubborn about revision and editing.
Sesshu Foster, in his recent City Lights Books reading (this past April or May) answered Oscar’s question about his use of the prose poem by saying that he didn’t want to be cute about enjambment. When a poet makes that conscious enjambment decision in the writing of the poem, does the poet honor that enjambment in the performance of the poem? If not, then what’s the point?
Paul S. Flores, in Willie Perdomo’s VONA class on the manuscript, talked about reading and performing as an editing tool; the words and phrases which are always awkward or difficult to speak without stammering, stumbling, badly mispronouncing, losing your breath need to be rethought. Perhaps it’s a matter of line breaks or punctuation, but sometimes it really is a matter of letting go of these words and phrases. Again, this is very common sense stuff, but I know how stubborn I get, and I know how attached folks can be to certain words and phrases, because they sound so cool or because of sentimental reasons. I don’t know that revision, editing, and sentimentality can all be friends, and I don’t believe that “because it sounds good” is a good enough reason to keep it.
This last go around with the manuscript is like jettisoning excess weight, and then polishing it to a high shine. There is one piece I still can’t rework, nor can I excise it. It’s good to give myself until the end of this month, which is fast approaching, to decide what to do and to do it. I have decided upon an end notes page, and actually, this makes me think back on Bryan Thao Worra’s On the Other Side of the Eye, for which I wrote the foreword. I reference his end notes page, his “glossary,” which is itself a creative work, and a slick bit of authorial mediation disguised as an objective document. For my own end notes page, I don’t mean to be slick, though I certainly do not mean to provide objectivity either. What is the middle ground here? I have to remember the reason why I’ve decided on an end notes page is because much of the attribution type information in the manuscript actually feels like it makes the body clunky. If I want the reader to have a smooth enough read through what is already a body of intricately interconnected poems, then the path through it needs to be cleared.
That’s it. I have a week and a half.