amwriting, children's writing, creativity, critique groups, Jane Yolen, poetry, What is a Poem?, wip, work in progress

Verse in Progress

I wrote a story in verse, and then tried the same story in prose. My critique partners suggest that the tale plucks the heartstrings more aptly in verse.

Back to my notebooks I go .. .

They are littered with words: stressed, unstressed, alliterative; some rhyming with a meter that’s consistently three beats and rising.

As much as I worked the words, they’ve worked me twice over.

I felt a little bit better with my efforts at verse when I read the insights of the poetic Jane Yolen.

If you’re like me, and you’re working with verse, take a moment to read.

What is a Poem?

by Jane Yolen

What is a poem?

Hard work.

A single great line.

What we see and hear the moment before sleep takes us.

The pause between heartbeats.

The first touch of the drumstick on the tight stretch

of drum

and the slight burring after.

A word discovered after an afternoon of trying.

An emotion caught in the hand, in the mouth.

Two words that bump up against one another

and create something new.

Hard work.

What is a poem?

Hard work.

Literature’s soul.

A touch of lemon swab on a parched mouth.

A son who smells of sweat instead of cigarettes.

A new word, like frass, which is what the caterpillar

leaves behind.

A story compressed to a paragraph,

a paragraph squeezed to a phrase,

a phrase pared to its essence.

Hard work.

What is a poem?

Hard work.

Emotion surprised.

Throwing a colored shadow.

A word that doubles back on itself, not

once but twice.

The exact crunch of carrots.

Precise joys.

A prayer that sounds like a curse until

it is said again.

Crows punctuating a field of snow.

Hard work.

What is a poem?
Hard work.

The space between a hummingbird’s wingbeats.

A child’s meddlefurs.

A whistle too high for a dog to hear.

One bloody word after another after another.

The graceful ellipse of memory.

The graceful collapse of memory.

The graceless lips of memory.

Hard work.

What is a poem?

Hard work.

Hard work.

Hard work.

Hard work.

Back to my notebooks I go . . .

3 thoughts on “Verse in Progress”

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