Case study writing brown shoes

I met Grace L. Rutledge at a writer's conference. She had an individual critique session with me, and instead of bringing a poem, she brought a vignette that contained a rhymed fragment. She had composed a few poems, she said, but thought her prose showed more promise:

Brown shoes. Looks like a little boy's shoes, they said. I didn't care —if it was from my daddy, it was above ridicule and I above humiliation. Me and my daddy didn't care together.

I loved my brown shoes, they were kind of a rich dark brown, round-toed, buster-brownish, but not quite. I would later concede, grudgingly, that they might look like little boys' shoes — so what? What was disturbing was not so much that people could laugh at something funny-looking, but how could they laugh at something you loved? And it was clear that I loved my brown shoes.

In time the house that inhabited seven people would be condemned as uninhabitable. Seven people. Torn to the ground, leveled. In the rubble where the foundation had been, crushed and broken, but still whole, I found one brown shoe, waiting to be carted away with the glass and memories. Where is the other one — alone somewhere; how sad to be without your partner in a crisis. A tearful goodbye, clutching stroking — alone with my shoe, me and my daddy's shoe. Yes, it was unmistakable now that it is a boy's shoe. So what?

House gone, in another year, daddy too But me and my dad and my brown shoe With laughter and tears we made it through Me and my daddy and my brown shoe

How I wanted my shoes and the time back. They were mine.

I agreed with her —the vignette showed promise —as a poem. Her diction was too repetitious (and sentimental) for prose and her paragraphs concealed some fine lyrical moments. So we circled phrases in her vignette and recast them as lines and stanzas to convey greater levels of meaning. Finally, we tightened and added a few phrases and employed a better structure to imply the passage of time and forebode the epiphany.

In ten minutes, we assembled this poem:

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