Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Poem #13 -- A Message to My Critic


I wrote it.
You read it.
You like it
Or not.

If not
Then you leave it.
But don't you rewrite it.

They're my words.
I chose them.
I wrote it.
I lived it.

You leave it

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011


  1. For the back story on this poem, you'll need to read yesterday's poem and the second comment. A person who's never before commented on our blog told me that I didn't get the character of the old woman right, I didn't choose the right verb for her action, and the child was too young to be wearing a yellow slicker.

    I'm not saying my poem is (or ANY of my poems are) perfect. I'm an amateur. A 4th grade teacher taking the challenge to write a poem every day during Poetry Month. I would argue that I'm getting better at it. I'm more proud of this year's poems than last year's. (I'm pretty sure I'm better at this because I spent all last year reading Amy LV's poem a day and commentary at The Poem Farm. Thank you, Amy!)

    And I'm certainly not saying that the only comments I want on my poems are praise. But I get a little prickly when the criticism is shallow and based on the reader's unwillingness to bend in their reading of my words.

    The old woman in that poem is me. I chose to call myself an old woman, because I'm pretty sure that's how I look to the little kid across the alley, what with my greying hair. I'm not old like my mother is, with a walker and white hair, but to a kid, I'm old.

    In between the rain showers, I went outside to smell the hyacinths. I bent all the way down to the ground, sniffed, was refreshed, stood up (yes, I STOOD up), saw the kid looking at me, and looked back. He was on a tricycle in his driveway across the alley, and he had on a tiny little yellow rain slicker.

    I wrote my poem to describe that moment, and I am quite pleased with the way it came out. I didn't have an idea yet for yesterday's poem, and I took a sort of brain snapshot of that moment and painted it in poetry. I certainly like the poem version better than the prose version I gave above.

    So there you have it. The back story. It's my poem. You don't have to like it, and you can tell me about the parts that don't work for you, but don't you dare rewrite it for me!

  2. Mary Lee, Thank you for leaving your comment on my blog. I also like to write and I love to write my thoughts at the time. I do it all the makes me the happiest and I smile, sometimes giggle at the time.
    I liked you poem immencenly, keep writing, I will be back. I am in the process of combining all of my blogs into "Great Grandma Flory's Stuff.. Please keep coming back.flory

  3. Anonymous12:23 AM

    Wow, Mary Lee. I had to go back and reread the previous poem. That commenter (who in looking at their profile appeared that English was not their first language) but they were out of line with trying to tell you what was wrong with YOUR poem.

    I saw the image of yesterday's poem so perfectly well.

    Like you, I am still learning with my poetry and it takes so much courage for us to put ourselves out there. Brush that comment off and know that many of us are cheering you on.

    I loved your poetic response!

  4. Susan,

    Thanks for all of your comments on this week's poems, but especially thanks for today's. I know you understand how I felt!!

  5. Mary Lee,

    We write our own stories in our poems.

    Love this poem...and "Between Rain Showers."

  6. Mary Lee,

    I left that comment attributed to Mike. I'm using my husband's computer at the moment.

  7. Wow, that, chutzpuh? In my 15 Words or Less Thursdays, I *very* occasionally will comment (in addition to pointing out what I love most about a poem) that one word struck me oddly, or I wasn't sure what one phrase meant, or I wanted a line break or something. I do that to one poem maybe every 3 weeks or so...and only if the poet is a regular participant who I think will like the more specific suggestion--which they can then take or leave, since it's just one person's reaction, of course. I can't even fathom going on to someone else's blog where I've never visited, have no relationship, and cataloging a poem's faults. She/he was WAY out of line.

    I absolutely love the bravery you show. Teachers, in particular, need to model writing, and yet it's hard if you aren't all that confident in your own writing. So great for kids to be there for that, though, and see you trying.

    I think your poem was awesome and captured that moment beautifully. And I love your poem today. You know it's what kids are thinking when they sit down for a one-on-one writing conference, right:>) You nailed it. Love the short lines and staccato rhythm.

    Poem on!

  8. Anonymous1:20 PM

    Mary Lee, I am not managing to read as many of the Poetry Month contributions as I want to and I feel very disconnected from the kidlitosphere poetry world anymore but I make time for yours because I feel you and I are making similar journeys in our quest to learn.

    Love Laura's comment - "poem on!"

  9. I really love this poem. To me it spoke in the voice of my students who want to be heard not workshopped.


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