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Checklist For Revising Poetry

August 8, 2005
The Book Store
1. Review the form of the poem--lyrical, narrative, sonnet, dramatic monologue, free verse, light verse, haiku, villanelle....Is the form appropriate to the subject matter? Would a different form make a more effective poem? Have you found the right form? Do words and form cohere?

2. Review the poem for its diction--its word choice. Revise. Does the "point of view" work? Can the poem be more effective in another "point of view"? What of the "persona"?

3. Review the poem for its rhythmic qualities and texture. Read aloud. How does the poem sound? What changes in rhythm can you make? Review the pace, the momentum? Too fast? Too slow?

4. Is the theme/subject the theme/subject "thought-provoking"? Does it "captivate"?

5. Model and sculpt the poem. Review grammar and syntax. Is the poem "predictable" or does it "surprise"? Is it "memorable"?

6. Review the figures of speech--metaphors, similes, images, etc. Does the poem make use of all the senses? Are the descriptions concrete?

7. Read the poem aloud to yourself and others. You might even tape record a reading of it. Let others read/proofread. What do you think? What do you learn? What suggestions can you or others add to this poem? What suggestions can you incorporate?

8. Read/reread your favorite poems--the best poems you know. What do you learn? How can you make use of what you learn to improve your own poem--without imitating? Can you improve the language/diction, form, rhythm, theme, etc.? Read and reread other poetry, "world poetry."

9. What are the unifying elements of the poem? Is the poem coherent? Are there are unifying metaphors?

10. Revise poem until you get the poem you want. Submit groups of your poems to editors. How can editorial comments help improve your poetry?

Books for Your Poetry Library An Introduction to Poetry A World Poetry Anthology A Rhyming Dictionary A Poet's Market A Thesaurus A Dictionary A One-Volume Encyclopedia A Quotations Book Assorted Poetry Collections THE BOOK STORE
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