If you have any desire to write poems that are distinctive, fresh and are notable for having a language style that is interesting and able to “express the inexpressible in terms of the unforgettable “, you have to cleanse yourself of the vanity that everything you write as a poem is precious and must remain untouched. You have to read what you’ve written with a critical eye and find out what it is you’re trying to say, and then chip away everything that in the draft that does not add up to a convincing poetic sequence. Having favorite poets and being aware of the techniques that make up their style is a must; if you understand why particular poets appeal to you, have an effect on you, cause you think about your world in a more nuanced way, then you have the start in developing a good critical ear for your work.
There are things that great poets like Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Eliot, Laux, Wanda Coleman, O’Hara make their poems memorable and a proper and alluring expression of their personalities. It wouldn’t hurt expression to get into the weeds a bit and study precisely HOW your favorite writers are achieving the resonance that comes from a well-considered poem. This will likely improve your habit of mind as you compose and will strengthen your creative flow while writing. Along that line, you have treated your first draft as a first draft and realize that half of what goes into a poem, more often than not, is rewriting, revision, correction, editing.I was told by a poet fifty years ago that to make something wonderful in the form of a poem, the “best writing has to be removed.” For me, this was getting rid of didactic language, lectures, pointless literary allusions, and concentrating on what is truly “poetic” in something I’d just written. This next point has an endless stream of variations, theories, styles, and the lot and each has a coherent aesthetic, but any poet worth reading over time realizes the difference between poetry and prose.
They do different things. As a wise writer named Clyde Hadlock once said of the two, “Prose is the photograph, poetry is the x-ray.”