Prompt #212 – Polishing Silver

I hope everyone has recovered from last month’s poetry writing.  If you participated in a fraction of the prompts and poetry activities out there, then I know you have a drawer full of poems and drafts.  Get ready to open the drawer.

What do I mean by polishing silver?  I mean revising, revising to the point of creation.  Whether you write and then revise or you write/revise as you go, changes are always necessary.  But what about those poems we abandon?  What about the ones with good parts or ideas, but we find the whole unsatisfying?

For this prompt, I would like you to find a poem (or more than one) which you know needs revision but you’re not sure where to start.  If you choose more than one, try to choose ones with complementary themes or images (or images that create powerful contrasts/synergy).  Once you have chosen your poem(s), go through the following steps, using the steps that work best with your writing and emerging poem.

  1. In your poem(s), pick out your favorite parts (the parts you feel you got right/near right).  Write them down.
  2. In your poem(s), identify imagery, metaphor, themes, etc. which enhance your choices in step one.  Write them down underneath the corresponding parts in step one.
  3. Brainstorm new ideas to add to step two and write them down.
  4. Now to find connective tissue.  What do the choices in step one have in common–themes, physical images, colors, sensory imagery, symbols, etc.?  Make notes.  Mark them on your paper.  Add new ones to your lists.
  5. Look at what you have on your paper.  Find what connects best and write it on a separate page.  Try writing it out in prose and see if a story emerges.
  6. Time to consider your form.  Will you rewrite using your original framework (free verse, sonnet, haiku, etc.) or try a new form?
  7. Finally, polish out the details–word choice, transitions, line breaks, etc.

This is creation at work.  Going back and revising is not one of my habits (confession time).  So I am going to do this prompt with you.  Take your time and put your heart into it.  I look forward to seeing your new creations and especially in hearing how the process worked for you.




49 thoughts on “Prompt #212 – Polishing Silver

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  3. I did prompts at three poem-a-day sites in April. Last week, printed out 120 poem-things. Culled that down to 30 that might become a real boy some day.
    But the one I pulled for this, I’m so far asea on…It’s all images, stacks of them, and no narrative thread. No idea. If I were in any way capable, I’d make haiku, but haiku are not I.

    Anybody got strategies for suggesting narrative where none exist?

    • b_young,
      Without reading it, I’d say steps one and four. Find what you like best in the writing and then identify what connections those favorites have. The poem I’m going to work on is here: Fortunately for me, Joseph at naming constellations did a refinery post on the poem ( He identified several strands that flow through all the parts and offer possible connections. Reading his post might give you some ideas on approaching your own with fresh eyes.

      • Got step #1, which was pretty easy, as there’s a lot of chaff. Making it something more than a list…

        I can just see Joseph with this catastrophe ( is the mess-in-progress). It’s like an over-fertilized tomato plant–all foliage, but weak. And small fruit.

        Maybe after a break

      • b_young,
        Small fruit can be the sweetest. Maybe I should have put breaks into the prompt steps.

        8. Be sure and take breaks (from which you return) to let ideas stew as needed.

        I like the idea of linking the smells to memory, which suggests that when we smell these things we should think of you. Smelling/breathing as memory. Hmmmm.

      • Yousei, have you posted your revised poem, so I can pick a few wordle-words from it for Thursday’s prompt? I checked your blog, but can’t locate it (just the one written earlier in the year). May I have a link to it, please?

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      • Yousei said, “wonder how much word choice could change the emotion that hovers around the poem–for instance, using harsher words for “clipping” to match the word “crushing” or darker words to indicate grief.) Before I give my answer let me say I love getting feedback like this – I do not take it as criticism but as advice and caring, so…

        I did consider the word choice but wanted the emotional impact to be ambiguous. I wanted the reader to wonder ‘was it her father who died and what that might mean about their relationship or a husband and why she was so cold and uncaring?’

        I also knew the original poem wasn’t structured right and feel it is stronger now. I added a little more specific detail which I think impacts the story well.

      • georgeplace2013,
        Thank you for taking my words as they were intended, just something to be considered. Thank you also for sharing some of your creative intentions. I love reading about those after I have read the poem. It offers insight and often lures me back to read the poem again. 🙂

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  10. aloha Poetic Rabbit. and all.

    I learn about myself every day—when I’m fortunate enough to remember to do so. This was a challenge—again. It did not end up the way I thought it would or I suspect, the way it was intended. However I did learn or at least clarify to my self, some things about me and where I am in this process of life.

    My response to the Polishing Silver prompt:

    The post entitled: Unfinished Postcards. The haibun (yes, it ended up that way) entitled: Unfinished—Or Extending My Pattern

    fun. aloha.

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