Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form? I like to write sonnets, but most of the time when I set out to write one, it turns out to be not exactly a sonnet, or kind of a sonnet, or I end up breaking it up into something else entirely. I just tend to write rough drafts with longer lines that are around 14 lines long.
How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? I don’t save pen-marked drafts of my poems, and I don’t save previous versions, either – so I’m sorry I can’t share photos. I try to avoid clutter and don’t find them useful after I’ve published a poem.
I am in a poetry workshop group and I know the group workshopped the poem twice, so it went through three or four revisions before the final draft; when it was accepted for publication in the Water~Stone Review, the editor asked me to make several minor revisions then, which I did.
Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version? Yes, I did cut lines, and I’m sorry, I don’t know what they were. I do know the ending was much more “neat and tidy”, with a rhyming couplet, and my workshop groupmates thought it sounded too “cute” for the seriousness of the poem. I agreed and truncated the next to last line to “it will be enough”, which also pointed to a wonderful title for the poem. I usually title poems at the very end of the writing process.
Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? The whole thing was quite emotional for me to write. I wrote this poem and many others as my marriage was falling apart. Most of the poems I wrote during this period were quite unpublishable and not my best work. This one was different. I felt I had turned a corner in being able to write about things in a way that an audience could appreciate, and that I had also turned a corner in my processing of what was happening, and what was to come in the next year as we finalized our divorce.
Has this poem been published before? And if so where? It was published in the 2015 Water~Stone Review magazine, run by Hamline University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. It is also the title poem of my new collection, Enough, published in October 2019 by NYQ Books. https://nyq.org/
Anything you would like to add? The first time I read this poem at a reading was at the Water~Stone Review’s magazine launch reading and party in the autumn of 2015 (Left: Kris in 2015). The Twin Cities has a relatively close-knit literary community, and many of my writer friends were there in the auditorium for the reading. X
Most of them knew how difficult the past few years had been for me and my now ex-husband, and also knew that this poem is much more autobiographical than most of my previous work. I got a bit emotional towards the end of the poem, and my voice shook a bit – it flustered me. Right as I finished, the room broke into loud applause, and I saw the faces of my friends smiling and encouraging me. It really meant a lot to me at a time when I felt quite lonely. I’ll always remember it.
“Looking For Sunsets (In the Early Morning)”
by Cindy Hochman