What is the most important step of your writing process and why?

Knowlton:

The most important step is editing. Sometimes poems look just awful when I come back to them after the first rush of idea. But I never call “editing” “editing”. It’s fun for me. It’s more like pulling together pieces of a puzzle, when no one knows how many dimensions the puzzle has.

Varnes:

Revision. Lots of it. Without revision, I'd have junk.

 


Where do you get your writing style/form etc.?

Knowlton:

Found it in school. Just kidding. It is a natural process. I rearrange it all the time. I like to read a lot, and I stare out of the window a lot too – and I really enjoy looking at visual compositions. I think that Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work is especially interesting.

Varnes:

I like to experiment with the old fashioned forms, tried and true sonnets, but also arcane meters as well as more avant garde ways of playing with language to see what will appear.

 


How do you find the right word or image to explain an idea?

Knowlton:

Wow. I never knew that I was explaining anything. Most of the time, I can’t understand what I write. But I can tell you that I “agonize” (not an agonizing process, though) over particular words. I go for walks, I fall half asleep and spring out of bed, for the right word. It is to do with sound, with space, with semantics, with all of it or none of it at once. It’s especially nice when one “meaning” of a word can cancel another out.

Varnes:

Assuming that I do. I have no idea how to answer this. Odd. This is sort of like asking a singer "How do you sing on pitch?" Practice is one answer. But I think this is a much harder question, a more intimate question than it seems. But I suppose the best answer is the same as for #1.

I remember I had a poem I was dissatisfied with for a couple years. I couldn't get it to work as I wanted. I showed it to several people and it was even published in a journal after some stylistic revisions. The poem compared an experience to a wild fawn for a quick moment. But it took a couple years for me to realize that that was the false, weak moment in the poem and replace it.