Imagine that the only container that you own is a bucket. Need to carry water? Bucket. Need to take your books to class? Bucket. Moving to a new house? It will take a while, but you’ve got your trusty bucket



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Imagine that the only container that you own is a bucket. Need to carry water? Bucket. Need to take your books to class? Bucket. Moving to a new house? It will take a while, but you’ve got your trusty bucket.

That’s ridiculous, you might argue. No one would have just one container. We have book-bags and boxes and lots of other containers. No one would use a bucket for everything.

So why do young writers often try to carry all their ideas in paragraphs? The genres of writing – short story, novel, memoir, reflective essay, descriptive paragraph, prose essay, poem – are like different containers. Writers must choose the container that fits their ideas and their purpose for writing.

It may be that something that you started to write as a paragraph would be more effective as a poem.



Poem Assignment: Read all of the write-ins and notebook entries that you’ve written so far, including drafts. Look for an idea that might be communicated more powerfully or effectively in a poem.

What kinds of ideas might make good poems? Look for



  • surprising or interesting connections between thoughts, people, or events

  • tensions, between what is and what should be, between one feeling/idea/fact and another

  • contradictions

  • an unexpected word, line, or image

  • a problem

  • a question

  • increased honesty
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