Saturday, April 02, 2011

First drafts are not yet poems

I was stunned to look at Elizabeth Bishop's early draft of her famous villanelle, "One Art." It was such a shapeless mess that had I penned it, I would have thrown it away not long afterward as being hopeless. Yet Bishop was one of the most dogged revisers the art of poetry has ever known. She claimed to have taken 20 years to revise "The Moose." This article gives a peek at her 17 extant drafts of "One Art."