Sample Poem and Professor's Commentary
Kelsey Donner & Sara Krauss, UR Writing Consultants
(printable version here)

Knowing what to focus on in your revision can be difficult. It is always beneficial to ask the professor what he or she is looking for in your poetry, while also keeping in mind the Tips for Revision we have posted elsewhere on the Poetry webpage. Additionally, we have included an actual poem draft written by a UR student, with faculty commentary in the margin. Note how one of the main tenets of poetry-- show, don't tell-- is implicated in this example.


The forgotteen trophies gleam in their display cases
in a dingy basement closet, left to collect
dust with the discarded tap shoes and itchy
sequined costumes that wheeze with puffs
of tulle peeking from under their hemlines

Too focused on achieving whatever was needed
to gain entrance into that Ivy League of the West Coast
in high school I ignored the giddy happiness that flared
within my chest every time I laced up my tap shoes
or practiced a sequence of steps at the barre

I could have been a ballerina, I could have fulfilled
my childhood dreams of being the Sugar Plum Fairy.
But instead I told myself I didn't have time for my childish
dreams, and wasted four years agonizing

Over Virgil's eloquent epic to achieve that perfect AP score,
and pulling all-nighters as an editor-in-chief, to print
a paper that people barely read anyway. I was prisoner

to my resume and to the all-too-common notion
of college admissions as your sole opportunity
to accomplish.

When the rejection letter came, all my opportunities
to succeed also seemed to be denied. I still maintain
that the letter read "we regret to inform you
that all your opportunities have been denied. The world
simply does not have room for them."

Why did I waste my chance to excel in dance
by preoccupying myself with boring, tiresom tasks
just to get one college's approval? I missed
four years of happiness and practice
for nothing.

But I won't whine or exaggerate by claiming
that I have thrown my life away. This failure
is a new opportunity. A chance to spend these next three years doing only what I love.
I start next semester with beginner jazz.


good start, good details



this seems too explicative-- consider moving directly into 3rd stanza









consider answering the question within the body of your poem



I like where the poem draft is headed. In revision, see if you can do more to show us what your dance means/meant to you rather than telling it.

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