Writing Between the Lines Revision Exercise

Writing Between the Lines Revision Exercise


Locate a poem that is in progress—you are willing to add to it or change it a lot. It just isn’t where you want it to be. This could be an older poem.

Rewrite the entire poem. Start by adding lines between each line of the poem.
So if the poem is a ten-line poem, you will be adding another ten lines.
If you are working on a poem that is already really long, you may want to devise a slightly different scheme.

Try not to censor yourself. Add a significant amount of writing.

One way to do this might be to print out the poem, and then hand-write the lines between the lines.

If you are a minimalist, this might feel a little strange—but keep in mind you can always chip away at the poem later!

The poet Peter Gizzi has this term he uses, the “shadow” poem—it is the poem behind the poem. That might be a way to think of this too. Is this two poems or one poem? Which version seems most intriguing to you, and why?