Evaluating an Elegy Based on a Rubric



Apples are greater than ashes, but less than or equal to an empty music stand.


Couplets merit full points.


Reminder: Your peers will use this as a checklist, even if they have never yet written an elegy.


Ask: What is the atmosphere? Do birds sing when they shouldn’t?


Make sure the lines are a little prison for feeling, everyone in uniform, on a schedule, ready for lights out.


Never tell your grief, or use the word sorrow, or mourn.


Make sure every punctuation mark gives the impression of being kissed by a stubbled chin.


Be sure to include some form of the following: husk, pearls, something circular, something pried away.


As the honor code states: Any form of flower is grounds for immediate dismissal, as is looking over a dent in the earth and calling it grave.

Sarah Ann Winn’s first book, Alma Almanac (Barrow Street, 2017), won the Barrow Street Book Prize, selected by Elaine Equi. She is the author of five chapbooks, the most recent of which, Exhibition Catalogue Pamphlet from the Grimm Forest Open Air Museum is forthcoming from Yellow Flag Press. Her work has appeared in Five Points, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Massachusetts Review, Prime Number and Smartish Pace. She has been a resident at Shakespeare Theater Company’s Poets are Present, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and recently completed an Inner Loop Arcadia residency at Woodlawn Plantation and Pope Leihey House. Visit her at http://bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling.