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Don’t be afraid to throw it away.

Some poems every poet comes up with just stink! The premise might be inane; the rhyme might be a crime; there may be no rhythm. And some of those poems are beyond salvaging. No amount of revision is going to make that poem into something you’re proud to share. Perhaps a total rewrite or a new poem inspired by the offending piece might be decent, but THAT poem has got to go! Don’t be afraid to throw that poem away. Burning it is better, so that no one picking through your garbage will be able to resurrect the poem and attribute it to you. Delete all copies from computer disk and write over where they were. You don’t want that poem recovered should you ever be under federal investigation.

Unlike the other points in this book, we have no examples to show. That isn’t to say that the author of and contributors to this book haven’t written such poems, you just will never see them.

For an opposing view on this point, we queried Peter Berryman of the songwriting duo of Lou and Peter Berryman. Peter’s response was:

“Don’t throw anything out. I make the tragic mistake of living by this rule regarding magazines and shoes, too.” Our sympathies are with his wife.

 
Status: Complete

 

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