Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Poet Lee Bennett Hopkins on Poem #239

Late last evening, I wrote an extra post including yesterday's poem and some wise revision suggestions from master poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins who has been my generous teacher for several years.

Today I feel fortunate to welcome my teacher back as he shares his thoughts on today's poem.  Below you will see the original poem followed by Lee's suggestions followed by the revised poem based on Lee's revisions. 

Students and Teachers - I encourage you to look at these two drafts carefully together, noticing how the deletion of one word or one line can strengthen a whole poem.  One thing Lee has taught me is that "less is more", a lesson I need to learn and relearn.

Again and again, Lee teaches me the importance of spacing.  In this revised version, notice how how the repeated words door and rope are centered, thus highlighting the repeated movement. Notice, too, which lines are are lighter, leaner.

Thank you, Lee Bennett Hopkins, for your generosity in sharing your insights with me - and with students and teachers - today.

If you try this, revising your own poem by deleting unnecessary words, we would love to hear about it.  If you're a teacher-writer or if you have a student who has tried such revision, please share...about the experience or even the poems before-and-after!

(Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.)


  1. Amy,

    Amazing that you have Lee Bennett Hopkins giving revision advice!

    I just love what he said. I read both poems both ways and yup, they are even better with his revision ideas.

    I am seriously learning so much following your blog. Keep it up!

  2. I really enjoy your poems. My wife uses them as part of homeschooling our children, and now she's got me reading them, too.

    I'm in awe of your ability to produce something of quality every day.

    I'm no expert, but I miss the "stand" and "wait" lines for one reason only: they brought to mind the last line of Milton's sonnet, which seems to me an elegant foil for this poem. I believe both poems have something to do with regretting missed opportunities, and I thought the allusion to an older, famous poem was neat.

    (Actually, I kind of liked the iambic "tick-tock" rhythm of "a door, a rope" too...something about the inevitable march of time.)

    But I don't mean to be critical. Really, I appreciate your sharing your work, and I think it's wonderful that both you and Lee Bennett Hopkins have the courage to share your thoughts.

  3. Karen,

    Thank you very much for your kind comment. I feel incredibly lucky to be learning from Lee, so grateful that he is willing to share his thoughts on my work and also with everyone here.

    Thank you, too, for continuing to read and for your ongoing great friendship!


    Thank you for taking the time to make this thoughtful comment. It is so humbling to know that your family reads my little daily poems and finds them useful. I'm honestly honored. Blogs are funny - sometimes you don't know if there's anyone out there, and you hope that the words reach out. Please know that your comment made my day.

    Lee is an enormously generous teacher, and I love rereading my own work with his ears. He has taught me about poetry but also how to be a tough yet kind writing friend.

    I welcome you, your wife, and children to share here someday. You may have read some of my sidebar Poetry Peeks, and I keep hoping for a homeschool peek, a look into way that families can share more poetry at home. For home is everyone's first classroom. Please let me know (amy at amylv dot com) if this would ever be of interest to you.

    All best to you throughout this beautiful season. I'm not sure where you live, but if it's snowy...stay cozy. And again, many thanks.