The Revision Process

Writing is intuitive whereas revising one’s work is conscious. Many early poets such as Whitman and Beats believed that revision is what takes the art out of the poetry. They believed revision to be technical and for them “technique was secondary” (Dickie 1987). On the other hand, poets like Bradstreet, Wheately and Moore believed in the process of revision. They believed that revising one’s work not only hones their craft but it also makes one a “professional” poet (Dickie 1987). In today’s world, revising is considered an important part of the writing process. This is mainly due to the competitive nature and high-pressured demands of the publishing world.

In this exhibit we depict the stages a poem goes through before it is deemed publishable. For this purpose, we chose to focus on revision process of the Pulitzer prize winning poet, Stephen Dunn. The poem chosen is “The Gasoline Sportcoat” that is taken from the collection of poems titled, “Everything else in the world” (2008). The manuscript can be found at Stephen Dunn's collection (Box 10) at the Hofstra's Special Collection.

This particular poem has about seventeen versions and in almost every version, it has undergone some sort of change, either big or small. We have chosen to focus on revisions such as Word Choice and Stanza restructuring. Under every section, we have included some specific examples to depict how revisions can change the tone or the meaning of the poem, thereby helping a piece of literature shine. Thus, we show revision is an integral part of writing. And though is it technical and conscious, it, in no way, affects the creativity of an artist. In fact, “it is through revision that we interrogate and press the test” (Francis 2010). 





Kyle Pratt & Supreet Kainth