Monday, June 11, 2012

Grandpa & Killing Darlings

Lying Down Looking Up
Photo by Amy LV

Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.

Students - Do you know anyone who makes new things out of old things?  My husband Mark saves all kinds of things to use again and again.  Our daughter Georgia makes cool bags out of old t-shirts.  I try to make new dinners out of old dinners (leftovers), and our daughter Hope made a lot of wonderful necklaces from bottle caps.  Our son Henry is always turning old towers into new towers with his Legos.  Recycling is an art unto itself.

Today's poem is recycled too.  It was once part of a longer poem, and it just didn't fit. William Faulkner's expression, "Kill your darlings" means that sometimes you will need to cut favorite parts of your writing.  This is what I needed to do with much of what you read above - cut it from another piece. Sometimes it is difficult to cut writing that you like, but at times it is necessary to do so in order to strengthen a whole piece.

So yes, you may cut.  But wait!  Rather than crumple the page up or throw our cut words into a bonfire, we can save them.  This is what I did, and here you can read today's little poem with its own poem life.

When you revise, do not get rid of the scraps you cut.  Scraps of pie dough can make little tarts, and poem scraps can find their way into new poems.

Don't kill your darlings.  Recycle them!

Here is one of my favorite books about revision, by Barry Lane.

Available through

Beginning this week, I will be moving to a summer blogging schedule. I plan to write more in my notebook and to take lots of hikes - to fill my poem senses!   Please find me here on Fridays throughout the summer, and I'll be back to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays come fall.  Happy traveling, strawberry picking, book reading, puppy playing, tent camping, poem writing, everything!

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  1. Sweet poem, & it says just enough, Amy. I love Barry Lane's work, have used it often. Thanks for this.

  2. Great poem ~ it reminds me of my dad and my kids.

    I am putting that book on my "to read" list! Thanks for sharing it.