The Hand of the Poet: Poems and Papers in Manuscript, by Rodney Phillips, Susan Benesch, Kenneth Benson, and Barbara Bergeron, is based on an exhibition (in two parts) of poetic manuscripts at The New York Public Library in 1995, 1996, and 1997.
The book contains an introduction by Dana Gioia titled, “The Magical Value of Manuscripts.” Here is an excerpt:
|Dana Gioia wrote:|
|The manuscripts of a poem can be divided into three general categories — the working drafts, the final manuscript, and fair copies. Each type of manuscript affords certain insights into the author and the work. The working drafts (or worksheets) of a poem reveal the author’s creative process. If all the worksheets survive, they track the poem’s development from the author’s initial impulse to the text’s final form. Many authors, however, discard their drafts.|
Do you save all your drafts?
I have a file cabinet filled with scraps of paper and whole sheets of countless revisions from the past 27 years. I don’t know what initial impulse moved me to keep my drafts when I was a teenager, but after seeing an exhibition of Sylvia Plath‘s crayon scribblings at the Morgan Library in the early 1990’s, I began to save everything.
Go here to see what other poets have said. . .