When I read a truly wonderful poem, it’s easy to believe that it fell from its creator’s mind in some sort of serendipitous spontaneity. Shedding Skins was conceived with the intent of dispelling this myth, of allowing a glimpse into the processes of some of today’s most gifted poets. But as much as I hope this feature will be an educational tool, I hope than it can be more. I hope that this feature will demonstrate that a poem is more than its final draft; that the process of sculpting a poem can offer as much beauty and value as a poem can. That the architectural past of a poem is so much more than a discarded page.
The diversity of these poems — and in the processes of these authors— is astounding, too. Some of these poems have taken years to come into their own, and some are not sure if they are finished yet. Some of these poems are part of larger projects; some are elegies. Some of these poems have had to shrink a page in order to grow.
Even more astounding, though, is the bravery of each of these poets. I have experienced the intense discomfort of sharing my works-in-progress in workshop settings. To offer up these drafts on such a public platform demonstrates immense courage on the part of each of these poets. As victorious as these poems emerge, the willingness of their authors to be so vulnerable deserves applause.