Tuesday Tryouts: Are We Talking Yet?

15 Mar

8:05 am, Tuesday — Atlanta

Good-day. I hope everyone had a good weekend. I am going to give you the second example of a dialogue poem. This one differs from the first exercise as it involves a third person narrator, so a little more story exists than that told through conversation alone. Next week we will switch to a first person narrator, so you can see how the story differs when told from a different point of view.


They met
near pickles
in A & P

He said
Do you know where
rutabagas are

She saw
the lone artichoke
in his cart. I can
show you the way

Between zucchini
and cherry tomatoes
they found it

It looks good
he said. He was
looking at

her eyes
playful as kittens:
I’ve never tried it

Let me fix you
some Sunday
he said.

–Dorothy Scheiber Miller

Note on Miller’s Punctuation:
Miller knows how to punctuate, but she wants to remove all clutter–words and punctuation–in order to concentrate the poem. To adjust for what’s missing, she provides other clues– arrangements of lines and stanzas–to serve the purposes punctuation usually serves.

As above, a dialogue poem can have both talk and narration/description. A third-person narrator tells a mini-story; characters speak dialogue. Look at how much we are told in so few words. Who tells what and how?

Draft a Dialogue Poem With a Narrator. You need someone to tell the poem. Whether your narrator is silent or participates in the dialogue, work for four or more exchanges between the speakers.

Decide whether to use quotation marks and other punctuation.

If you leave out quotation marks and punctuation, arrange things so a reader will understand who speaks where and when. Do not just leave them out without considering how it affects the way the poem works. Reflect on whether you had difficulty when reading the example poem, or whether it irritated you to have to work through it without clear signals.

Begin in medias res. No hello!

Dialogue adds layers and dimension to poems, so give this a try. I will see you Thursday for verbs and how important they are to poetry, and Friday for the usual.


Posted by on 15/03/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Tuesday Tryouts: Are We Talking Yet?

  1. pamela

    18/03/2011 at 3:21 pm

    Late getting here Margo, but, I shall give it a go and post here in a day or two.


  2. margo roby

    18/03/2011 at 3:40 pm

    No problem, Pam. You know you are welcome anytime. Look forward to the result.

  3. pamela

    19/03/2011 at 8:33 pm

    Well, I am not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but I did have fun:) Thanks for being here Margo.



Join the discussion and feel free to critique, or suggest an idea for any poem I post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: