On the Revision Process for "Passing a Heifer on the Highway"
by Anna Girgenti
In its earliest drafts, "Passing a Heifer on the Highway" was a poem focused on religion, the heifer being a biblical symbol and the young woman identifying with it rebelliously. There may be a poem like that inside me still, but this one is about something different. It connects rampant consumerism in American culture to the suppression of women. It is a poem about what it means to be a young woman in America—to be full of profound fury and resilience.
From the start, Ali's comments on this poem proved to me that she is familiar with the complex experience I wanted to convey. The revision process can be painful, but it is the most rewarding part of writing poetry. It clears away any stray ideas or thoughts so we can hear precisely what we want to say to the world in this one moment. Within that process, it's a gift to find a mentor who can sense what you want to say and pushes you to say it clearly. Thank you for doing that, Ali.
Anna Girgenti is a Chicago-based writer and artist. Her work has appeared in several journals, including Cider Press Review, Zone 3 Literary Journal, and Barnstorm Journal. The University of Iowa published her first chapbook, "Asking for Directions," in May 2018.