Today is the final day of National Poetry Month 2012. It's been a whirlwind. All this month, we have looked at writing habits of poets.
Children's poet and educator Amy Ludwig Vanderwater (of The Poem Farm) gets the last word. Appropriately, Amy's post is about the joys of revising drafts. She is also sharing a poem from one of her poem-a-day marathons.
Here is Amy:
A long time ago, I thought I loved writing. But really, I loved the idea of writing more than I loved the work of writing. I loved carrying a notebook, and I loved looking at my infrequent entries in that notebook. I did not love revision.
Now, revision is my best friend, and I love her. Revision means I have something to work with, words to tune, meters to tap, magic to find. Today, each poem I send out or share goes through these few revision checks:
1. LITTLE WORD CHECK – Cross out extra little words, words like and or the. Often, eliminating these will help a poem breathe. (Thank you, LBH!)
2. SYLLABLE CHECK – Count and number the syllables in each line. Decide if the poem is or should be written in a regular meter. Tap the table with my fingertips.
3. VERB CHECK – If any verbs feel like weak handshakes, substitute beefier relatives.
4. CLICHÉ & METAPHOR CHECK – If a phrase sounds too familiar, Google it to see if it’s a cliché, a well-known metaphor, or just too-good-to-be-original.
5. ALLITERATION CHECK – Change words where possible to give the poem more of a repetitive sound.
6. ENDING CHECK – Reread the ending, and decide if it will leave a reader hungry or confused. If so, write a few different endings and pick one of those instead.
7. OTHER PERSON CHECK – Ask someone (preferably a child) to read the poem aloud without commenting. Rework any lines which trip up this reader.
8. MAGIC CHECK – If the technical qualities are strong, reread the poem looking for a flash of enchantment. If there’s a hint of magic, grin. If not, decide whether it will be allowed to go out into the world or if it needs to age a wee bit more!
You can ready Amy's accompanying post here.
Amy's National Poetry Month blog project was a dictionary hike, covering the 26 letters of the alphabet. If you visit Amy's blog today, all of the dictionary hike poems will be up.
And here is the recap of the poets and topics we covered in the "30 Habits of Highly Effective Poets" series.
April 1: Laura Shovan on Drinking Tea (and Laura's April Fool's Post)
April 2: Laura Purdie Salas on Relaxation
April 3: Allan Roy Andrews on Dreaming
April 4: Justine Rowden on Paying Attention
April 5: Liz Moser on Anchoring
April 6: Diane Mayr on Tubular Vision
April 8: Nicole Schultheis on Food
April 9: Lisa Vihos on Practicing
April 11: Jacqueline Jules on Finding Writing Time
April 12: Dennis Kirschbaum on Writer's Block
April 13: Robyn Hood Black on Haiku Mind
April 14: Kay Ryan on Reading
April 15: Leslie Rzeznik on Recording Yourself
April 16: Michael Tims on the Scientific Method
April 17: Charles Waters on a Training Regimen
April 18: Betsy Franco on "Bed Head"
April 19: Irene Latham on the 1:1 Ratio
April 20: Tabatha Yeatts Lonske on Seeing Patterns
April 21: William Stafford on Being the Early Bard
April 22: Laura Shovan on Reiki vs. Rekey
April 23: Kathy Figueroa on Chores
April 24: Barbara Westwood Diehl on Googling
April 25: Antonio Blunda on Music
April 26: On Fun
April 27: Jeannine Atkins on Multi-tasking
April 28: Nikki Giovanni on Personifying Poems
April 29: Honey Novick on Ars Poetica
April 30: Amy Ludwig Vanderwater on Revision
What perfect, concrete advice on the craft of writing. I sparked to how Amy wrote she use to be in love with the idea of writing and not the work of writing. Kids need to know this, the effort involved. Once they get on their way with consistent scribbling the better it is for them. Vanderwater is a natural born teacher. Thank you so much Amy and Laura!
What a great series. I'll be back again and again. I think of this as my poetry PD, or poetry school, or me at the feet of the masters!! THANKS!!
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