Poetry Challenge #26

I’m a wordy bird! Are you?

Quite often we use too many words to get our point across. We’re going to do some math today and take away 25% of the words used in a poem. But don’t worry…it will be simple. Just do one step at a time!

Take Away!
Pick one of your poems. Count the words in the poem. Divide that number by 4 (round up if it’s not even). Take away (delete!) that many words. Reread your poem aloud. How does it sound?

Abracadabra! A poem becomes sharper, stronger, more interesting without so many words. . . And the best part is, if you don’t like the way the poem sounds without the words, you can always put them back. Bippity-boppity-boop!

If the thought of removing 25% of your words scares you, check out this example of how my poem changed when I slashed it by 25%:

Here’s the Poem I started with entitled 2/24:

“I can’t watch the news.
I see those teens
so earnest, so determined,
so hurt,
and imagine the pain
and grief
of their lives.
There can’t be peace
on earth while
lobbyist make fun
of “white mothers grieving”
Every word is loaded
and shot
with no regard
for stolen innocence.”

It has 50 words. Divide that by 4 and round up should be about 13. Subtract 13 from 50 and you get 37.

2/24 The 37 word version:

“Can’t watch the news.
See those teens
so determined.
Can’t imagine the grief
of their lives.
Can’t be peace
while lobbyists
make fun of
“white mothers grieving”.
Words loaded
and shot
with no regard
for stolen innocence.”

This second version feels stronger, doesn’t it? But I didn’t stop there. “Can I cut another 25%?” I asked. 37 words, divided by 4 and rounded up to get 10. Subtracted 10 from 37 to get 27.

2/24 The 27 word version:

“Can’t watch
those determined teens.
Can’t imagine the grief.
Can’t be peace
while lobbyists
“white mothers grieving”.
Words loaded
and shot.
No regard
for stolen innocence.”

WHOA! What a difference! Now you try it!

Set the timer for 7 minutes.
Select a poem to revise.
Do The Math!
Take Away 25%

*Kelly Bennett and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge over 700 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole dang poem. Scroll down and click on the comments!