Experiments in Revision, Part 2

Lisa McCool-Grime
Senior Poetry Editor

Tanka is a Japanese form that can be roughly approximated in English with five lines using a syllabic pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. When I first began working with it, I found it to be an amazingly tidy container for difficult to contain emotions. So in reading Niki’s first draft, I immediately thought of this form—not the syllable count, but the clarity and density of emotion it insists on. In this first total re-vision, Niki Selken scraps the previous poem and uses the spirit of tanka to focus the 300+ words of her first draft into a single image.

Poetry by Niki Selken

trying to forget
mom’s door closed against
all my Christmas memories
like unopened presents
her gun in a small brown pouch}