The Jewish Manuscript Project: "Poem in the Prophetic Manner"
By DAVID LEHMAN
Welcome to the Jewish
Manuscript Project, an intimate look at the creative process of some of our
most talented authors. The JMP promises to show how much work and revision go into
our best Jewish writing. We begin the series with a glimpse at the
work of David Lehman.
On the lined pad paper is an advanced draft of a poem that came to be called
"Poem in the Prophetic Manner." Originally, as you'll see from the
handwritten copy, it as called "Ode to Destiny," an unsatisfactory
title. There's a typewritten draft, as well with a few revisions marked in the
margins. And then there's the December 2007 issue of The Atlantic in which the poem appeared. You can see the evolution
of the title, and I think these drafts give hints of what went into the
writing. It seems to have begun as a poem vaguely in the manner of Bob Dylan
circa 1967, but it turned Audenesque at some point. Since 2002 I have been accumulating poems toward a manuscript entitled "Poems in the Manner Of," and this poem will be part of that.
Lehman's handwritten draft.
The typewritten draft.
The published poem.