Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Poem #17 - I Only See Betsy

Welcome to my 2019 National Poetry Month Project

Each day of April, I will write and share a new (first person, free verse, fewer than 15 lines not including spacing) poem. Taken together, these will tell a story about John and Betsy, two characters I posted about on March 22.  This will be new for me, and I invite anyone who wishes to join me in writing a collection of 30 poems that tell a story.

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

And's poem.

Wagging like Crazy
by Amy LV

Students - This month's poems will tell a story about John and Betsy, and all of the poems will have three things in common: each will be written in John's voice, each will be 15 lines or shorter (not including spacing), and each will be written in free verse. I find it helpful to set writing boundaries for myself, so I chose three to work with over the next 30 days.

Today continues the moment of yesterday and the day before.  I have not written many fiction stories, but I do know that stories have important moments and that writers stretch these moments out.  So I chose to linger on this important point in time - before John discovers who holds the loop of Betsy's leash.

Likely you noticed those smushed words beginning both stanza one and stanza two.  Why are they smushed?  Well, you may have figured it is because when the words are smushed together, a reader reads them more quickly, more excitedly.  Similarly, the slowed down, shorter lines, cause a reader to read more slowly.  

When you write, your choices determine most everything about how a person reads your text.  This is why I often ask someone in my family to read one of my poems aloud with no comment.  I simply listen, and if the reader stumbles or seems confused somewhere, I know to revise.  

It is easy to make our own writing sound good in our heads, but when we hear it in the air in another person's voice, we hear our words differently. Consider asking someone to read your writing aloud without comment.  Listen to what you hear.  And then, if needed, revise from there. 

Each Friday of National Poetry Month, Heinemann has generously offered to gift a copy of my book POEMS ARE TEACHERS to someone who has commented during the week.  This book includes over 150 poems by contemporary poets and students alike as well as over 50 poem explorations written by me. I will keep track of comments and will draw one name each Thursday evening, to be announced each Friday of the month. To be entered into these drawings, please do leave a way to contact you along with your comment.  And...Heinemann is offering 40% of all poetry professional books throughout April...thank you Heinemann!

If you would like to learn more about other National Poetry Month projects happening throughout the Kidlitosphere, Jama has rounded up many NPM happenings over at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  And today, in an earlier post, I offer the 17th line of the 2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. Happy National Poetry Month 2019!

See you tomorrow!  Remember, Poem in Your Pocket Day is tomorrow...which poem will you carry?


Please share a comment below if you 


  1. What a sweet and thoughtful boy John is, to remember to ask. Betsy must wonder at his hesitation.

  2. So, so glad that John "found" Betsy. And yet there is a huge poignancy in the fact that he as to ask to pet her. It reminds me of that line "I pack no food" in the poem about the shelter. I love how you ran the words together in the first line and in "Betsyiswagginglikecrazy." Can't wait to read more about who has Betsy. I'm hoping their lives will at least intersect.

  3. Oh, you are adept at stretching out this moment. I can't imagine that Betsy's new owner (and recipient of John's note) isn't recognizing John. I can't wait for more of the story!

  4. I finally caught up reading (and re-reading) your wonderful poems. My heart simply is breaking and breaking. I love the poem for today, the walk in the park with the leash line, today's recognition and love shouting out in your words. This screams book to me. You are so full of wonderful ideas, poems and heart-tugging loveliness and sadness. Hugs. Janet Clare F.

  5. Amy, I think your moves to speed up the poem by smushing the words together gets everyone excited for what is to come. The last stanza starts with the slow down. And then is a great opener. John is such a loving boy that he knows to ask permission to pet Betsy. Wow! it is his Betsy!