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  • Writer's pictureTucker Bryant

When to abandon an old poem

Consistency and perseverance are obviously important virtues, but today what's on my mind is this: don’t be so committed to precedent that you prohibit yourself from evolving.

Here's the backstory: I’ve been working on poems for a full length collection for a couple of years now and recently I went back to read a few of the poems I wrote early on in this project when I was still formulating my vision for it.

When I did, I felt kinda awkward by how different the voice was that came through in some of the poems I’d long since forgotten about. They felt like me back then, but my experiences, perspective and craft has shifted since then and so some of those older pieces felt sort of unrecognizable.

And that felt weird.

I wonder if you can relate; are there any annual OKRs your team set at a time when your business landscape looked different than it does now? Are there meetings you set up that were crucial when you created them, but now that we attend because that’s just what we do on Tuesday mornings? Is there a role you’re in that you joined based on beliefs or priorities that you no longer have?

Well, as the poet, when you have a revelation about this disconnect between a poem you started and current creative vision, you’ve got a couple options.

One thing you can do is accept that your craft is evolving as it often does and see through your creation to some milestone when it might make sense to reevauluate the direction you’re moving in. That’s probably what I’m going to do with this collection and these old poems, and it’s a good idea to consider doing that if you know you’re the kind of person who leans towards perfectionism and tends to look for excuses to discredit your own work and deem it unworthy of reaching the world.

But on the other hand, if you notice this disconnect between what you started and what matters to you – ask yourself what the best case scenario is if you stick to this outdated plan. If your answer based on what you know matters to you right now doesn’t sound all that inspiring…

That might be a good opportunity to tear out those old poems and start fresh.

And believe it or not… that can feel real good.

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