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Today, my guest from the Couplets blog tour is Elizabeth Barrette ([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith):

Revision in Science Fiction Poetry



I've been writing science fiction poetry for many years. You can read some of it in my book Prismatica: Science Fiction Poetry Spanning the Spectrum. One effect of that much practice is that I've come to compose poetry very fast -- so fast that most revisions happen before I even write out the poem. Slowing down the process so that I can show the changes will roughly triple the time it takes to write. Once in a while, though, I make revisions after a poem has been written down, usually based on outside input. I'll share a few examples of these.

"Resolutions," one of the poems in Prismatica, follows a woman determined to visit the Moon. An earlier version left her age vague in a couple of the verses. My partner Doug pointed out that someone that forceful would be proud of her age -- which made sense -- so I made the references more specific.

"A Steed of Steel and Silver," also from Prismatica, draws parallels between racehorses and starships. The rough draft was actually two poems tangled together -- a mistake I used to make more often and have mostly learned to avoid now -- such that the narrator identified both with horse and with rider. An editor complained that was too confusing, so I took out all horse-identification, leaving a single perspective.

Sometimes I get inspiration for a poem in circumstances where I can't finish the whole thing at once. Then I may jot down key ideas and come back to flesh out the poem later. A recent example was when we went to see Cirque du Soleil. I copied down fragments of two poems. Here is one in the original notes and then the finished version, featuring a passage of aerial dance between two acrobats using a circular trapeze. Me being me, it turned into mythic science fiction. Basically what I did in the revision was identify patterns that I liked and regularize the lines to fit those.

The Twins of the Moon


I have seen the twins dancers of the moon
curling around a hoop of purple light
twirling in the violet sky
trailing moonbeams silver and bright
braiding like music through the night
breathing and sighing as they fly
then pausing, breathless in a swoon,
draped across a quiet cloud
the dancing twins of the twilight moon.

* * *

The Twins of the Moon


I have seen the twin dancers of the moon
curling around a hoop of purple light
twirling in the violet sky
trailing moonbeams silver and bright.

I have seen the twin dancers of the moon
letting their tresses tumble, bold and shy,
braiding like music through the night
breathing and sighing as they fly.

I have seen the twin dancers of the moon
their bodies wreathed in silence like a shroud,
twisting in mid-air, misty, fair
as the stars' company so proud

I have seen them flinging themselves up there,
then pausing weightless, breathless in a swoon,
limbs draped across a quiet cloud --
dancing twins of the twilight moon.




You can read more about and by Elizabeth Barrette at her website, PenUltimate Productions, including about her two other books (From Nature's Patient Hands and Composing Magic and Plunge Magazine, a new publication dedicated to queer women genre literature.


Couplets: A multi-author poetry blog tour
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