Poem 37 Edited – Give Every Word a Job

My best friend is better at money than I am. She says, give every dollar a job. I think that idea can be lent to poetry, due to its smaller word count and its intimate complete-ness.

aPoem 37

For me, every word is vitally important. Not only does it take the place of a perhaps better or worse word, it informs the moment one bite at a time. Let me explain. In fiction there are lots of words, sometimes they are redundant, sometimes they are off in tangents. Those words would be unwelcome in poetry, not because they are not good, but because poetry is a much smaller house. Think of a mansion vs. a cottage. Poetry needs to be more selective to ensure all the words at the party are good guests… maybe this metaphor got a little away from me. 🙂

However, the idea works well for a poem I otherwise love whose words were getting a little lazy. I changed words like lived and phrases that were basically stagnant for ones with much more umph!

These change gave motion to a poem about moving, and gave life to a poem about living. Show don’t tell is a good mantra here. But if you are more money-minded like my friend, the every dollar (word) needing a job might help you see poems in a new light


Poems are the smallest of gatherings. Every word needs to be important, every word needs a job. If this were any other type of writing it would be easy to hide a few extra words here and there, but in poetry each is vitally important. Give them all a function, or kindly have them exit.

Poem 37 OriginalPoem 37 Revised

4 thoughts on “Poem 37 Edited – Give Every Word a Job

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