Andy McFadyen-Ketchum and the crew over at Poem of the Week are presenting two poems from Persons Unknown this week, with reviews, brief conversation, and early drafts.
See how this exchange concludes:
AMK: I like how “Darkly” opens with that short, declaration sentence “The moss never falls.” Not only does it establish the poem’s early subject of meditation, but it sets a terse, somewhat dreary tone to the poem that I don’t think would have been accomplished has you combined that first line with the lines that follow. That said, I could see these first lines going through multiple forms in the drafting process: “The moss never falls / however gray.” or, perhaps, “The moss never falls; / it hangs like shirts…”. How much editing did these first few couplets go through. How much editing do your poems go through in general?
JAY: The kind of drafting you’re talking about here-working out the syntax-I usually do in my head, or in my throat, talking out the poem as I write it, so this is how these sentences were the first time I wrote them down. I played with the line breaks, which meant playing with the stanza shape as well-eventually settling on the short line, determined by the length of that first sentence. That becomes, to adopt a musical idea, the tonic everything else works from or toward.
But those first lines were written after much of the middle of the poem was written…
Full feature is here.