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Poetry Friday: "A Writer's Voice," and "Spilling Ink"

A Writer's Voice: A Found Poem

(Source: Anne Mazer, Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook, 2010)



look for it.

A voice

isn't something you pick up

on the side of the road...

It doesn't appear in a


from your best friend.

It's already inside you,


to be


When I first read these words by Anne Mazer, which appear in a different form in Spilling Ink, I felt a sigh, the kind you might hear at a poetry reading when the poet expresses something true. That's where I got the idea to make Mazer's paragraph into a poem. It comes from the section "How to Find Your Writer's Voice" in the book's 26th chapter, "Your Writer's Identity." I broke up the sentences, cut a few phrases, and fiddled with the fonts and capitalization.

Geared toward tween and young teen writers, Spilling Ink, by the way, was nominated for a Cybil award in the middle grade/young adult nonfiction category.

[Added later: in a nice instance of synchronicity, a teacher writes at Choice Literacy about helping a reluctant student find his writer's voice. Go, read.]

For more Poetry Friday talk, turn to the roundup at the Teaching Authors blog.

Book details:

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook
by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter
illustrated by Matt Phelan
Roaring Brook Press, 2010
288 pages


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::delighted shiver::
Every time I read one of these I think to myself, THAT is one writing book you need. I love, love, love the way it all sounds so much like discovering yourself as well as your writing, and ties it all together.

Exactly, Tanita! I love the sense of it's all there, all along that Mazer conveys here.

Like Bird by Bird, the advice can apply to life as well as writing.

Oh I love the poem you created! Love that book, too.

Thanks, Jules! It's a handy resource for tween/teen writers, isn't it?

I felt a sigh of recognition reading your found poem -- thanks, Susan.

Wonderful words, Tabatha. Thank you!

How fun to have not one, but two found poems this week in the roundup! (And I LOVE this book! You're right -- it's about writing AND life.)

Mary Lee, yes, two found poems! Taking Churchill and making a poem out of his speech was a great idea.


AMT, I would have enjoyed a writer's guide when I was 11 or so. I tried to write a book, but gave up after about 10 pages...

This is a wonderful book, and the way you found a poem in it is delightful. Georgia Heard is collecting found might wish to share this with her! A.

Amy, thank you so much for your kind words! I will follow up with the Georgia Heard tip. Love her books!


i think you also just helped me find a perfect holiday gift for a certain in-residence (i.e. teen) writer i know.

Writing runs in the family! I'm not surprised to hear that, David. Over at Amazon, you can look inside at the first pages of the book.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what you did with my words. Wow. I think I actually prefer it in poem form to prose. Beautiful! You just made my day. Thank you...

Anne Mazer? Anne Mazer! Wow. Thank you so much for stopping by and for the lovely comment. I am so glad to hear that you like this.

I've been racking my brain, trying to figure out what the cadence of some of your paragraphs reminded me of and finally figured it out: William Carlos Williams' poem "This is Just to Say."

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