Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When is a Poem Not Ready for Publication?



April is Poetry Month and as I prepped for a middle-school poetry workshop I’ll be teaching later this week, I pulled out my two unpublished poetry collections. One deals with dark fantasy and another deals with fractured fairy tales. What I found out? Only one was ready for publication. Why?

Let me start from the beginning.

We’ve all learned to write our first draft, revise, revise, revise, then share with critique partners, revise again, and hopefully it will sell.

Sometimes that works

But what happens if the poet can’t see what’s wrong with the poem? Even after he/she has followed all the steps.

YOU DON’T KNOW A PIECE IS NOT READY UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND WHY IT’S NOT READY.

You can’t drink a magic elixir to make you recognize the flaws in your work. So let’s go through the basic list. . .

RHYME  perfect rhyme, no slant rhyme or inversions to force the rhyme.

perfect rhymes - clown, crown, down, drown, frown, gown, noun, town

slant rhymes - done, brawn, bone, bummed, broad, crowed, ruin

METER -  perfect, flows from the tongue with ease. Meter is determined by the number of STRESSED or ACCENTED syllables—regardless of the number of syllables—in each line.

RHYTHMthe pattern of STRESSES in a line of verse.

So, with rhyme, meter and rhythm all working, what would make the poem not publishable?

Ask yourself the question . . . WHO is the poem for?


REMEMBER THESE FACTS. . .

1.    Vocabulary MUST be age appropriate. (Just because the word rhymes perfectly, does not mean the child will understand what the word means.)
2.    The writer MUST use concepts already familiar or easily interpreted by the child reader.
3.    Your poem MUST not be too long.

Are you sure your 300-word poem isn’t really a picture book?


These are just a few things to consider as you write a poem or poetry collection for children during this month of Poetry.

HERE IS MY CLEAVE POEM THAT WAS READY. IT WAS PUBLISHED IN THE CHILDREN'S POETRY COLLECTION

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD: A Global Gathering of Sports Poems

Left column is one poem. Right column is another and when read horizontally it makes a third poem.

THE HAIL MARY PASS
@ Gayle C. Krause 2012

A football--                                         A team--
glides                                                 collides, as the ball rides
through the air                                    into the end zone,
to                                                      score!
excited hands,                                     fans
waiting,                                              anticipating
for its                                                 official call on fourth,
TOUCH                                               DOWN!

   


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