KEARNEY — Lincoln poet Maria Nazos sometimes rewrites a poem 30 times before she finishes with it.
“I’ve gotten better at it, with time,” she said in an interview from her home. “What I would say allows me to know when a poem is done. I’ve gotten to the point where I trust my intuition, whatever that abstract thing is. I trust myself to know that when something feels done, when I feel that sense of satisfaction and fullness, that’s when it’s done.”
She used to consider publishing a poem as the final stage.
“Now, it’s not so much,” she said. “My standards and my expectations for myself have changed.”
Nazos looks for a sense of satisfaction to signal the end of writing a poem.
“I think that feeling was always there,” she said. “I also think it has since been enhanced with time.”
Nazos will read from her body of work at 7 p.m. Thursday at the G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture at 2010 University Drive on the West Campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The free reading is part of the Front Porch Reading Series presented by the Prairie Art Brothers. Kearney resident and poet Kevin L. Nenstiel will open the reading.
As a writer, Nazos compares her style of writing to that of Ted Kooser.
“Ted’s a dear friend and, interestingly, we joke about how we have 40 years between us and zero aesthetic overlap, we have very similar processes of writing, drafting and revising,” Nazos said. “Basically, my first drafts are just an absolute mess. But I also think they are really great, I’m ashamed to say.”
After further reading, she often re-evaluates her work.
‘”No, this is a draft and I need to go back to it,” Nazos said. “As you can see, I am a prosy writer. My steps involve tweaking and cutting for about 30 drafts before I go back and solidify. Those tweaks and those cuts could be anything, almost like the Oscar Wilde quote where he said, ‘I spend the whole morning putting in a comma and the rest of the afternoon taking it out.’”
Most of her revising involves cutting text.
“I binge write and I cut mercilessly,” she said. “And then, finally, I show them to people. And by ‘people,’ I mean Ted, once a week. I go see him. We’re still buds. I get to have him look over my poems. He’s got an impeccable eye for detail and his poems are super sparse and tight. It’s sort of like all the pieces are together and he gets the screwdriver out and just tightens that last loose piece.”
Nazos’ writing method has paid off with publication of her poems in The New Yorker, TriQuarterly, American Life in Poetry, The Greensboro Review and Chicago Quarterly Review. She has published two collections of work — “A Hymn That Meanders” in 2011 and “Still Life” in 2016.
For a day job, Nazos works as a senior copy writer for Spreetail.com, an e-commerce website.
“During the day I actually do a lot of writing, which is pretty cool,” she said.
Writing product descriptions requires some of the same techniques as writing poetry: Concise writing, metaphorical images and a consideration of a distant reader.
“In that sense, we’re encouraged to be playful and retain our original tone of voice,” Nazos said about her day job. “So, I’d definitely say that there is overlap. Of course there’s never going to be a complete blurring of those genres, but the way I see it, writing is writing, even if you’re writing about something like a trailer hitch. And speaking of Ted, that would be a Ted Kooser poem. He would write about a trailer hitch and make it awesome. Five lines. I could not do that.”