A private eye turned moderately successful poet leads readers on a satiric, hopeful tour of how to make a life in the arts, while still having a life. Revealing, hilarious, and peppered with sly takes on the ins and outs of contemporary American poetry (chapters include "The Silence of the Iambs," "The Revisionarium, Ask Dr. Frankenpoem," and "The Periodic Table of Poetic Elements"), Jeffrey Skinner offers advice, candor, and wit.
Revision is the process a poem endures to become its best self.
Or, if you are the poet, you are the process a poem endures to become its best self.
Endures because a first draft, like all other objects in the universe, has inertia and would prefer to stay where it is. The poet must not collaborate.
Best self because the poem is more like a person than a thing, and does not strenuously object to personification.
But let's not get carried away. It's your poem and you can treat it as you wish; sweet talk it; push it around if that's what it takes. Alfred Hitchcock notoriously said of the actors in his movies, "They are cattle."
Jeffrey Skinner is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Salt Water Amnesia (Ausable Press, 2005). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, The American Poetry Review, Poetry, BOMB, and The Paris Review, and his work has earned awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Howard Foundation.