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The Poem That Didn't Make the Cut

Happy Poetry Friday! Today, we're over at Imagine the Possibilities hosted by the delightful Rose Cappelli. Check out Rose's post for all the latest poetry shenanigans!

For the past few years, I've been working on a few projects very slowly as I heal from Long Covid brain damage. One project in particular -- a poetry picture book -- has been taking shape into something I hope to put into the submission queue before super long. And, because I like thinking about process and tend to be just as interested in examples of things that didn't work, for today's post I'm going to pull out one of the poems that I've cut from that manuscript, and explain why. So, without further ado...



Shoppers pause to watch

the skater

glide… loop… leap!

twirl and glide again…

his feet tracing lace in ice.

Even on his day off,

Jack Frost

creates cold art.

-Sarah Grace Tuttle

I had fun writing this poem. I like the sounds in the poem, and the picture it creates feels lovely. But, it doesn't fit in the manuscript for a whole bunch of reasons! Here are a few:

1) The twist at the end doesn't work for many 4-8 year olds, the target age for this manuscript. Having the surprise be that the skater is Jack Frost means that the punch line depends on them knowing who Jack Frost is, and a large portion of littles have never heard of the guy! Without that knowledge, all we have is a poem about someone skating. For this manuscript, I'm working to have twists that readers can understand with only the context within the poem itself, because it makes the collection so much stronger for my audience.

2) The poem feels static when I compare it to the other poems in the collection. There isn't a story, a change, or a strong emotional arc. The poem is essentially a pretty picture-- which is a fine fit for some manuscripts and projects, but sticks out like a sore thumb in this one.

3) Jack Frost as a character doesn't fit in well with the subjects of the other poems, none of whom are specific figures.

4) The poem itself doesn't pull a strong emotion from me. I'm not inspired to think about the poem further, or excited about revising it. And, I given that I revise many of my poems more than a dozen times before I submit them, if I'm not excited about a poem's potential it's just not worth the time investment.

So, there you have it! A few reasons why this poem just didn't make the cut. Maybe one day it will inspire me, and I'll revisit it for some other project. But for now, on the back burner it goes.

And now, for happy book mail news! Look look look-- I got author copies in the mail! I'm so excited that my poem "Hamster Hoping" is included in Bless Our Pets: Poems of Gratitude for Our Animal Friends, a children's poetry picture book put together by the late great Lee Bennett Hopkins and coming this April. More on that in a later post!


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