So this week I’m in the process of revising my poetry manuscript for the midterm review in the Mark Program. I have to turn in an updated manuscript by Friday, and it’s got to be about twenty-five pages shorter than when I started...when it was close to ninety-five pages. It’s also got to be more intentionally organized. That’s the purpose of this program, to get me to reflect on manuscript construction, my poems, and how to put together a book of poetic fragments. The process has been exciting yet daunting.
Through working with my mentor, Anna Journey, I’ve been inspired to think quite strategically about organizing my work. She recommends dividing the book into four sections, thinking about which poem to open and close each section, and to put poems side by side that create an aesthetic experience for the reader. So I’ve been sifting through my manuscript and considering the possibilities...and there are several possibilities. And there are several poems I’m not sure ultimately belong in the book: to keep or not to keep, that is the question.
So I’ve decided I’m going to rely on a mix of intuition and logic. And I’m aiming for simplicity. My mind is telling me that less is more, and I’m going to be brave about letting go of poems (for the time being anyway). And one thing I’ve realized is that as a writer, I sort of fashion myself as a femi-niste Pak-American detective. I want to arrange the poems with this in mind... This sense of exploring a mystery... This sense of being curious about embodying the hyphen. So I’m going to think about the layout of a traditional mystery novel: crime, victim, suspects, detective, red herrings, clues, and epiphany. And though my poems do not amount to a mystery novel, I’m going to arrange my pieces with this organizational scheme in mind. I can’t wait to see where it gets me.
Maybe I write poems because I wouldn’t make a credible detective in real time. On the page, I can sleuth the mystery of being, the mystery of duality, and the mystery of the humor/vulnerability paradox. I can examine my experience through the magnifying glass of metaphor. What is my manuscript about? On one level, it's about the importance of curiosity. Being curious, I believe, is important to being happy in life. And it also encourages us seek out the truth.