Slice of Life Story Challenge March 14 -Today I Found A Poem

Today I found a poem. It was hiding in a rather unassuming volume. The book is titled, The Storm Book, and was written by Charlotte Zolotow and published in 1952. The cover does not have immediate appeal, but it would be a major mistake to dismiss this book on the basis of its underwhelming cover. For inside, it contains a  wonderfully rich, descriptive text. 

The book tells the story of a storm from its approach, to its thunderous arrival and its demise and aftermath. I love this book and have used it many times to teach young writers how to write strong, visually strong description. It was given to me when I was living in New York. It has become a highly valued mentor text and sits proudly along side much flasher books on my library shelf.

I periodically revisit this wonderful old book, and today I pulled it from the shelves, and began browsing. I became aware of buried treasure within the text. I sensed a poem was lying just below the surface. So I decided to do some excavating. I was keen to reveal additional magic within the text.

Here’s what happened.  First, I photocopied a selected page. Then I blocked out those words and phrases I found most appealing to my eye, my ear and my heart. This part of the process was somewhat surgical. Only those words that suited me made the final cut. Every word had to contribute. Every word was required to pull its weight. There is no room for passengers in a poem. It’s about the effect of powerful words in tight spaces. 

Following this, I blacked out those words I  had chosen to eliminate, leaving the chosen ones isolated. Finally, I moved to my computer and transferred my selected words onto the screen. I made specific choices regarding line arrangement and breaks. I also included some white space for emphasis. I then printed off the poem I had lifted from Zolotow’s rich and enduring text. 

I decided to document the process in my notebook. You can view it below. I will share this work next week when I visit schools in Adelaide. I will invite young poets to do some excavating of their own. There is a lot to learn about how poetry is structured in such an exercise- and it's challenging, and it's fun. 


  1. What a great idea. I am not familiar with this mentor text. You have piqued my interest.

  2. There is a whole art form of found poetry. I use it sometimes in creating ATCs and in journal. I don't go the last step you did with retyping - the text is just blocked out to leave the words you want left. Lovely poem you created!


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