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Image: Lubin Baugin: Still-life with Chessboard (The Five Senses) Wikipedia Commons, Labeled for Non-commercial use.

Let’s Kick it Up a Notch—dVerse Meeting the Bar

I suspect most of us look back at the poetry we’ve written years ago and shudder a bit. Perhaps it’s riddled with purple prose (that effusive emotional goop that’s a bit nauseating). Or maybe it falls flat because of boring verbs, too many adverbs or weak descriptions. And then there’s the fatal disease of poetry that has been infected by cliché.

What do you do with those terminally inflicted poems? Do you delete them? Store them in a file that says trash? Or maybe hold out a bit of hope and keep them for a future look-see and edit. My file is titled “Trash or Edit.” Interesting factoid—I never really trash them, but when I’m stuck for inspiration I do return and see if I can apply a bit on poetic CPR.

While there are many ways of doing this, I think adding detailed sensory description can be one of the most effective remedies.

Let me give you an example from a short story I wrote over ten years ago. I developed it from a draft of my novel, “Winter is Past.” It was a scene that I ended up deleting. (If you write prose, please save those edits—you never know what gifts they will give you in the future.)

Here’s what the first draft could have looked like:

Arielle waited for her husband to come home. The sunset caught her attention, the way it lit up their garden in spring. She was full of fear, didn’t know how to tell him what the doctor said.

(In the scene the protagonist, Arielle, has just found out she has a serious illness. She wants to just give up, even though the doctor has offered her options.)

Now, here’s the revised scene, using description to express Arielle’s emotional state. As it happened, in the novel, the tulips became an extended metaphor—one I didn’t even know was there until a member of my critique group pointed it out. The short story took quite a different turn from the novel.

Arielle waited in the family room for Keith. The setting sun cast an amber light on their garden. Tips of emerging bulbs and bursts of golden and purple crocuses spattered the flowerbed set against the fence. Tulips had begun to open, but froze, stunted in voluminous leaves, as if fearing to venture into the world.

So, here’s today’s prompt. Search your archives and choose a poem, even if it’s one you thought was already done, and see if you can add a little spice to it through the use of sensory description, replacing metaphor, or tightening up your word count. (If you write prose, maybe you could choose a paragraph and make it into a poem, still applying the prompt.)

I realize this is a prompt I’ve offered before, usually once a year, but believe is so important to our art. Besides, there’s the fat file I have of poems that could use a little or a lot of help.

To join in:
• Edit/write your poem and post it on your blog. Include the original so we can better appreciate the work you’ve put into it.
• Copy and paste the URL of your post into Mr. Linky at the bottom of this page and add your name.
• Come into the bar, order up some fine poetry, and read the work of your fellow patrons. Please be sure to join in the spirit of dVerse with your comments, especially for those who have made the effort to read and comment on your work.
• Add a link to dVerse in your post and social media, inviting others to join us.
• Enjoy the creative process and one another.

For dVerse, this is Victoria, mixing up words—straight up or on the rocks, as you will.
I will be around to visit everyone sooner or later—the later part is that Pacific Daylight Time thing. Let’s try to have 50 or more links this time. It’s not form poetry so your options are wide open.

And don’t forget—we are gleaning exceptional poetry for a dVerse Anthology from among your submissions.

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Image: thenickster.com
Labeled for Non-commercial reuse.