Refining a poetry manuscript

Hi everyone,
David giving brief remarks
The first thing I do when I start back over a manuscript in progress is to reread the poems and arrange them by category.

This collection includes 7 poems in verse and 13 in free verse. Of the 7 in verse, 2 are in couplets with a refrain, 1 is a villanelle, 1 is a two-stanza ballad, 1 is free verse alternating with four-line ballad stanzas, 1 is in ballad stanzas with a refrain, and 1 is in blank verse.

Of the 13 free verse, 6 are narrative that describe the subject in general, 4 are told about specific subjects rather than a general description, 1 addresses the subject directly, 1 is in the form of a query, and 1 is in first person.

I’m looking to see if I have enough variety to keep the reader engaged. My target audience is Grade 6. I’m sorry that I can’t go into more detail but I doubt that my publisher would approve at this point.

Although I have several poems that use ballad stanzas, each is different. One’s in pentameter (5-5-5-5), one is a traditional long ballad (4-4-4-4), and another is a short ballad (3-3-4-3). Some rhyme a-b-c-b while one rhymes a-a-b-b) and another rhymes a-b-a-b. I think I’m okay with that, at least for now.

My main worry is with the number of general, narrative, free verse poems. I’ve pulled out three to look at again. Something tells me that at least a couple of them need a different approach. This doesn’t mean revising what I have. It means throwing them out and starting again. The bad news is that one of my targets took a long time and involved showing it to a university professor and to a good friend/writer who know the subject to make sure I was on the right track. The good news is that I won’t have to do all the research again. I can draw from what I’ve already done.

Onward and upward!

David

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