LA10 Final Comments about Poetry Revision

As you work on your poems before you turn in the finals this Friday, keep these things in mind:

  • I do not mean for you to correct ALL the things I indicated with my “codes”: The codes were meant to be informational, NOT evaluative! I was just pointing out to you things you may not have realized about your poems. The rule of thumb is, if you have two or three issues in a poem in the same area–say, I underlined two or three state-of-being or weak verbs–you may want to look at how you could improve these, but it isn’t crucial to your grade. However, if you have five, six, seven or more, you REALLY want to make improvements! So, for example, if almost ALL of your lines are end-stopped or a grammatical unit, you know you have to focus your revision on lining!
  • Common Problem #1 – Lining: Speaking of lining, a lot of people need to work on this! See the TWO lining handouts I gave you in class for suggestions. Don’t forget that stanza breaks also are part of lining.
  • Common Problem #2 – Punctuation: Yes, you can take liberties with standard mechanics when writing poetry IF YOU HAVE A GOOD REASON! You CANNOT, however, completely ignore rules of punctuation and capitalization! No one will be able to understand your poem!
  • Common Problem #3 – Not Enough “Glue”: Some people really took the eliminating glue words revision to heart! Unfortunately, quite a few people eliminated so many glue words that they no longer have any complete sentences! A complete sentence is a complete thought. Without any complete thoughts…well, your poem is incomplete–and VERY confusing! So, HAVE SENTENCES. Also, don’t eliminate words that we always use in the English language, like articles (a, an, the). You’re not taking notes; you’re writing a poem!
  • Common Problem #4 – Making Sense: This is related to the last few bullets. In short, if you have punctuation/mechanical errors coupled with no real complete thoughts, your poem is going to be very hard to understand. In addition, many people were still way too abstract/general with their nouns (some people manged to write 35 lines of poetry with hardly any nouns at all!). This also makes your poem hard to understand…because I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE SUBJECT IS! Finally, sometimes people just had word combinations or imagery that didn’t make sense (sometimes this was due to inconsistent word choice or mixed metaphors). Bottom line: Poetry SHOULD challenge the reader to think and look at a subject in new ways. Poetry should NOT be a game of “guess what I’m writing about”!

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