Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Art of Revision: President Obama's Recent Speech

I just couldn't resist this from Nicholas Kristoff's recommendation. If you double-click on this image you can see the larger picture which shows specific word changes. Also, I am completely enamored with that slightly curved index finger. I want to show this photograph to my students (after spring break) to show them that even President Obama has to revise. Actually, "has to" is the wrong sentiment. It's the joy of getting it right, picking the gorgeous word in a line of adequate words. Nobody gets it right the first time, and here's the proof!

Revising poetry is a long time obsession of mine -- necessary as bread and wine to my writing life. If Madeline DeFrees hadn't taught me the (at the time) painful art of revision, I never could have advanced as a poet. On Sheila Bender's Writing It Real on-line journal I first published an article on revision which later was reprinted in Poem, Revised. If you're interested, you can read the beginning of the essay here.


  1. interesting! thanks for sharing.

  2. I just wish I could have posted the extra large photo here so you could see his actual word changes. Worth taking a look!

  3. Fantastic! I will be showing this to my students, too.

  4. Double-clicking on the image will enlarge it.


  5. First there is the initial pleasure of the poem coming on like a hurricane, and then there is the sipping-of-the-wine pleasure of revision.

    If this doesn't convince your students of the necessity of revision, I don't know what will!

  6. Mimi,
    Thank you! I will let folks know. Or maybe everyone else already does? And T. -- I will let you know how it goes with my students. My guess is their true thoughts will be -- "oh, she's one of those liberals from the East!"