Poetry Lessons

Poems on scrap paperPoetry and Learning 

Poems get lost. Over the years, many of mine have disappeared due to computer crashes, lost flash drives, and other kinds of accident or neglect. I steward them better now, such as by posting them online.

Rarely, a poem finds its way back to me from the void, such as when found on a scrap of paper tucked in a notebook. I’ll share one of those poems in a minute (below).

Poetry Lesson Number One today is that poems come and go. It’s helpful to maintain a philosophical outlook about that.

Poetry Lesson Number Two is an opportunity to witness before and after versions of a poem and learn for yourself what that can teach you. The “before” poem is mine from today in its original draft form. Later in the post, my “after” appears. You’ll get most value from the exercise if you attempt your own revision before looking at mine.

Just to give you a head’s up, today’s post is outlined like this:

          • Poetry and Learning
          • Draft Poem
          • Found Poem
          • Draft Poem Revised
          • Comment

Draft Poem

Here is today’s draft poem, written down as the ideas came and not edited in any way. That’s your challenge, if you wish. Create a poem of your own using these words to launch you:


If life is a lesson—
if there’s something to learn—
couldn’t the Teacher  we students
let us know  be told
what the subject is?

Listen, kid—
learn what you want
on the topic you choose.
What, if anything,
do you want to know?
Hint: it’s whatever you
pay attention to.
I’ts what you focus on.

* * *

Found Poem

Here—to separate the draft poem from its revision for those doing the exercise—is a poem from May 15, 2012. It was very recently found on a stray scrap of paper:


Notebook on my lap,
pencil in my hand,
motionless I sit
as I am, I am, I am.

* * *

Draft Poem Revised

Luckily today, the tweaking of the draft poem didn’t take long. Even better, Ethan glanced over it and liked it.


“If life is a lesson
with subjects to learn,
we should be told
of each subject in turn—
isn’t that right?”

“No, or not quite.
Learn what you want
on the topic you choose.
That’s how you win.
Besides, you can’t lose.”

* * *

Smiling child artistComment

If writing poetry is a priority for you, I hope you attempted the exercise. If it isn’t, I hope you challenge yourself today with something else aligned to your creative priories. Learning is designed to be fun—that’s my experience.  ♥ ~Jo

* * *
Photo Credits:

  • Scrap Poems by Jo Lightfoot 
  • Child Artist by Jade of morguefile.com (modified detail)

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