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Questions when Writing and Rewriting Poetry

by Vicki Davis
Illustration of a scribe writing

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These notes were from the summer I spent at Governor's Honors in 1986. I've been looking for a sonnet I wrote that was published in the Camilla Enterprise and haven't been able to find it, but have found this, maybe it will help. These are from a teacher named Ms. Coleman.
Questions to ask as you begin writing?

  1. Am I writing down everything? (without stopping to select or worry about little things?)
  2. What else could be possible? (Or impossible in an impossible world?)
  3. How is what I'm thinking of like something else (to make comparisons, either metaphors or similes)
  4. Am I, hopefully, using picture words, like an oak tree, a witch, a frog, not feeling words like faith, despair, love
  5. Am I remembering that I can show feeling instead of telling it if I create a picture with enough detail or images?

Questions to Ask when rewriting poems:

  1. Can my verbs or adjectives be made more interesting – closer to what I mean?
  2. Have I used the clearest words?
  3. If I have used rhyme, are the words in correct order? Does it sound like I talk?
  4. Is there too much rhyme, so much that the reader pays more attention to it than to what I'm saying?
  5. Have I used as many of the senses – sight, smell, sound, taste, touch – as possible? (At least two.)
  6. Can some words be taken out because they don't really add to the poem?
  7. Can any lines be moved?
  8. Have I looked deeply into the poem into what makes the poem uniquely mine?
  9. Am I remembering to go back to see if I can add anything to make what I've written more interesting?

A simulpost from the Flint River Project Ning.
This is coming from some things in my blog over on our Flint River project that starts next week.  This was posted yesterday.

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