Teaching Poetry

Teaching Poetry: What I learned from young poets age 12 – 14

Hand writing takes a long time
especially in pencil. sorry
I assumed you would all be young
beethovenns (also no spell check)
i guess i was ready for nearly-published
chap-book happy slappy poet dieties
I was suprised at how small the room is
when I have no true expertise. sorry

My poems were bad too. not bad, just drafty
and the rafters are close to the floor when
my teacher ego tried spread the table
with wisdom; I was no good on the spot
either, we were something of a rough
draft, the five of us, then the two of us
and then the room and I quietly
slapping papers along the desk
straightened and folded, for the car/ride home.


Poem 4 Editing

As is customary with my projects, life got in the way… I wish it didn’t, but I have a better sun tan and a revitalized drive to finish this editing… so here we go, poem 4.

This poem comes from a poetic conversation between Bishop and Moore, a literary friendship and jumping point for cross generational writing, that often gets overlooked in the canonizing of poetry… when I read their work I strove to write my own fish poem… through my collection you will find a stretching romance with the idea of fish and marine iconography, though this early attempt is rather drab…

I’ll begin with the blue note down below, be wary of when and in what circumstances your poem exists… this was written during the turmoil of the oil spill, and the verbiage shows, the best way to avoid that is to go back and edit with fresh eyes, little blemishes like that will be easier to see.

This poem, like the previous editing, hits a stride after the first two stanzas. Don’t be afraid to recognize that in your own writing and cut away the fat. Your readers will have short attention spans, and if a poem is only as good as its middle, they may never get there…

Finally, the form and the way that the lines move should be intentional. Note the purple aside about enjambment. Make sure that the highlights and quirks of every line are intentional, don’t fall on enjambment or rhyme or structure to make up for missing elements in the language.


Remember to weed through the mess that is a first draft. This poem is clearly in its infancy, and if I hope to make it something more than a mere first attempt, I have to recognize the elements that are less than extraordinary… items like temporal elements (oil spill), clogged stanzas (1st and 2nd) and gimmicky rhetoric devices (enjambment and structure) hold back the overall piece and must be removed… the difference between a good poem and a bad one is removal of these flaws, the difference between a seasoned poet and a novice is their ability to recognize and overcome their own poetic issues.

Poem 4 RevisedPoem 4 Original