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Archive for June 20th, 2014

Join the Poetry Friday round-up at Jone's site: Check it Out.

Join the Poetry Friday round-up at Jone’s site: Check it Out.

Revision? Ugh! If you are a writer, revision is a necessary evil. Maybe not evil, but definitely necessary. If I am going to urge my students to revise, I must experience it myself.

I have a copy of Kate Messner’s Real Revision in my stack of professional books for the summer. It’s already dog-eared, written in, and sticky-noted. Each chapter ends with a section “Meet Mentor Author…” I decided for this post that I would take one piece of advice and apply it to an old draft of a poem. However, when I got started, I went in a different direction.

I’ve “met” Jeannine Atkins through Poetry Friday. Her exercise in Real Revision begins, “Try It: Jeannine Atkins tries to use concrete nouns- specific, precise words- and verbs that really suggest action.”

I pulled out my poem “Singing the Blues” that I wrote in a wordlab setting. I liked it but felt that it needed work. Jeannine’s exercise helped me attack the challenge, but once I started pinpointing precise words, I also made other changes. This is a good lesson for my work with students. A revision strategy such as this one by Jeannine can be a starting point, but I also should encourage other changes. Jump in with finding precise words, then move on to confirming the theme, changing the order, or adding in senses, metaphor, etc. Revision can be endless. We should teach our students that it can also be fun and satisfying when your writing takes shape and looks like a bird that may fly.

My brother, the performer, Hunter Gibson

My brother, the performer, Hunter Gibson


Find Hunter’s music on the web here.

Singing the Blues

My mother sang blues in rhythm with her cleaning,
mopped on out to the shade of the oak tree
to cool off and cool down. That Mississippi sun
shone like Jupiter on a summer night.

We played with fire.

The front yard burned.
Smoke rose to the gods,
Chatty Cathy and a set of Lincoln Logs—ashes.
Mom cried when she saw her begonias
seared like sausage on a stick.

I buried my Barbies in the flowerbed, knelt
beside the snake of Eden—I am a sinner.
I Guess that’s Why They Call it the Blues
echoes from the microphone.

Brother now plays the keyboard,
sways his Elton John head
above the noise of a crowded bar.
Does he remember?

We were only children, for God’s sake!
What did we know about heat and rage then?
Our phoenix rose long ago.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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