Students Writing: What is a poem?

A student shows me what he’s written during a workshop. He’s crossed out the opening lines. ‘There’s the poem,’ he says, pointing to the rest of it. ‘No, that’s the poem.’ I point to the bit he’s crossed out – it’s a good poem: direct, surprising, suggestive, not a word out of place. Sometimes, students think they know what a poem is, so they write what they think is a poem. But the best part of their writing can be the part they think is no good, because when they wrote that, they weren’t thinking about writing a poem. They were just writing.

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