Thursday, April 5, 2018

#5 - Second Person Point of View

Welcome to my 2018 National Poetry Month Project! I love projects!
It is wonderful to find so many folks are joining in at blogs and elsewhere. 
All are welcome!

This year at The Poem Farm, I will be writing a new poem every day about the constellation Orion.  Every day I will highlight a new poetic technique, a technique used by poets and by writers of other genres as well. After all, the techniques of poets are the techniques of all writers. I will be using my Fall 2017 Heinemann book, POEMS ARE TEACHERS, to lead me as I write all April long.

My hope is that some readers might also choose to dive deeply into writing about 1 Subject 30 Ways, to stick with one subject for a few days or for a whole month, approaching it from a variety of perspectives, in a multitude of structures, and with many playful word explorations.

Here is a list of this month's poems so far:

And's technique.

Second Person Poem Drafting
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Today's poem grew from a combination of a feeling I've been having together with a comment I received on yesterday's poem.  See, I love Orion.  I always have.  But I never read his story. closely until a few days ago.  Reading the story about Orion wanting to kill everything bummed me out.  How would I reconcile this story with my love for this starry soul? Orion was my favorite constellation!

I felt even worse when I read this comment from my teacher poet friend Mary Lee Hahn of A Year of Reading.  These were the words she left on yesterday's Orion (alliteration) poem:

So not only was my favorite constellation ruined for writing brought up conflicting feelings for my good friend too.  What to do?

In between work and family and chores and a  huge windstorm yesterday, I thought about this conflict all day. Finally, a solution dawned on me.

Orion is a myth.  It's a story.  So any of us can make Orion who we wish him to be in our own minds.  We can each write our own story.

This is empowering!

Can you find Mary Lee's words in my poem? Pay close attention to words that family and friends and strangers speak to you.  If a phrase sticks in your mind or heart, this may mean that it wishes to be part of your writing.  Thank you, Mary Lee, for helping me work through my own feelings about Orion.  Your words helped me.

The poem is in second person because the speaker is speaking directly to the reader, in a YOU voice.  This worked out perfectly today, as it allowed my speaker to address my friend Mary Lee and anyone else who might feel conflicted about Orion's role in myth and in their lives. Second person is great for when you want to confide in someone or when you want your writing to feel directly personal.

In my book POEMS ARE TEACHERS, I highlight alliteration with a poem by Jack Prelutsky, from his book THE RANDOM HOUSE BOOK OF POETRY FOR CHILDREN: A TREASURY OF 572 POEMS FOR TODAY'S CHILD. The title of his poem (page 67) is "Alphabet Stew."   The two student poet mentors (page 70) are Owen L. with "Those Words" and Jessenya L. with "Book."  Thank you to these poets!

Remember, you can connect with all kinds of poetry goodness happening throughout April 2018 at my introductory National Poetry Month post HERE.

See you tomorrow...with free verse!


Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Amy, I'm really enjoying your series this month. This one grabbed my heart. For me, it's a reminder that there are two sides to every story. Often we see the outcome, but we don't know what really led to what we've witnessed. I love the way you wove Mary Lee's words into your poem. I also appreciated your reminder about the power of writing in second person. Another delightful stop. Good luck in changing Orion's reputation. If anyone can do it, you can.

  2. I love this poem, but I love the back story even more! Trust Mary Lee to bring new light to a situation. To me, it also feels like there could be a whole other poem, a pre-story , written by the people who love him, about WHY he got to be such a brute.

    On a completely different note, I'm really glad to see this poem today. Yesterday I was working with some kids on writing from different points of view. I was telling them that second person doesn't show up all that often. I didn't have a professional one to show them, just a little paragraph I had written. But now I can show them this! I can't wait to see those fifth graders today and say, "You guys, look what I found!" Thank you!

  3. The perfect solution! Thank you, thank you, thank you for reimagining...for re-mythologizing Orion for me...for US!

  4. Yes, people -- and constellations! -- are complicated. I'm glad you are finding a way to still love Orion. xo

  5. A beautiful reconciliation. A lesson learned from a friend!

  6. I've thought about this poem all day, particularly your ph of the myth, and your use of "you" in the poem. My students and I talk almost daily about point of view and the speaker's voice in poetry, so I used your poem both as a prompt and a way to review apostrophe ("Ode on a Grecian Urn" for example). I love stories that reimagine classical myths. One that comes to mind is "Cassandra." This all led me to write my poem today directly to students, so I, too, found this inspiring. I shared my poem w/ a colleague after school, and she's going to use it w/ her students. That's huge for me since I'm outside my comfort zone w/ this daily poem writing. I'd teach poetry every day if I could, however.

  7. Love reading the connection, and you can re-write this story for you and for your buddies, too! The "you" voice is so interesting to me. When I read something, a poem or prose, I always want to answer or want "someone" to answer.

  8. I am enjoying your series. Today, I enjoyed today's poem. A great mentor text for second person instruction. But also for an example of what prompts us to make choice about our writing. And there is that seed thought of rewriting a myth... perhaps a fractured myth, although we wouldn't be fracturing it for humor, or would we? could we?

  9. Very interesting connection drawn from Mary Lee's comment and your poem pulling her voice in–in a strong voice too! Thanks Amy.

  10. this is fun! and a great way to look at all kinds of storytelling. Thanks for sharing this marvelous journey of a month.

  11. I love what you're doing this month, Amy! It's amazing how one subject provides a wealth of inspiration, and your focus on different elements and types of poetry will be a terrific resource for poets.

  12. We return from Spring Break tomorrow, and I can't wait to introduce my students to your site! These resources are wonderful! Thank you!!

  13. Oh, wow - Mary Lee pointed me to this post because it tied to something I said in a NPM poem of my own. Thank you for this: we DO choose the story, and the way we see it.