Wednesday, February 19, 2020

After I Passed: Lillian's Poem

Congratulations to Jo Lynn Worden for winning "You Are Mine, Porcupine." She is my cousin-in-law  and has several porcupettes she'll read the book to!


Some writers use prompts or free writes when they're trying to figure out what their character is thinking or feeling, or what happens next in a story. I use poetry.

Since I'm writing HALF-TRUTHS from Kate's POV, the following poem, from Lillian's POV, may never appear. (If you are new to my blog and are unfamiliar with the young adult historical novel that I am writing, please click on the link.) I wanted to explore how Lillian felt after she successfully passed at the Woolworth's lunch counter. Because she is light-skinned, the waitress doesn't realize she's a Negro. But in order to sit down at the counter, she and Kate walk past her friends who her standing at the end of the counter eating hotdogs. Afterwards, Kate is jubilant because Lillian sat at the WHITES ONLY counter, but Lillian realizes she hasn't proved anything.



What does this girl know about me?
Does she think 
I am a chameleon who just blends in with its surroundings?
I think she thinks we’re friends. 
But, how can we be friends when she doesn’t understand
who I am: 
my past, 
my present. 
My struggles,
my people’s struggles. 
She’s like every other white person who thinks she knows what’s best for me.

What did I get in return? 
Humiliation in front of my friends.
They saw me try to pretend.
They saw me try to be someone I’m not. 
They saw me turn my back 

I should have nothing to do with her.
She is white bread without even 
           of butter. 


If you're a writer, how do you get deeper into your character's POV? If you are a reader, do you consider POV when you read a book? What makes or breaks it for you?


Linda Phillips said...

Hey Carol, I think you are on to something good here with the poetry!! Keep going with it!

Sandra Warren said...

This is an AMAZING poem! If there is a place where it might fit into your novel, it should. You are a very talented and creative writer.

A novel in verse SHOULD BE in your future.

I know I didn't answer your question but I couldn't help it!

Since I create my characters, I internalize their essence and try to feel and make choices as they might. My background of a not so stellar upbringing allows me to interject a wide range of feelings and choices into my characters POV. My personal experience aids POV.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Linda and Sandra. I've always enjoyed writing poetry--but an entire novel?? Not so sure about that! Sandra, I like what you said about "internalizing their essence." Sounds easy--but it's really tough.

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Love this Carol. And yeah, sometimes I do think you should write a verse novel!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Joyce!

Rosi said...

Very nicely done. Poetry is incredibly hard to write well. Thanks for sharing it here.

Unknown said...

Hi Carol, I enjoyed your post! I like the idea of your poetry sprinkled in with your story. Well done!!

Carol Baldwin said...

I don't know who you are, unknown, but thanks for the affirmation!

Helena George said...

Love this! I often do a page or two of character journaling before I start on a new story, but I have written "extra" scenes from the other character's POV's to make sure I'm understanding them correctly, even if they're not a POV character in the actual book.

Occasionally I'll write a piece of music for a character.

I agree with the other commentators - you should write a novel in verse some day!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Helena. Someday I want you to blog for me about writing a piece of music for a character. that is AWESOME!!

Linda A. said...


Loved your poem. It makes readers think. Many layers. Internal conflicts. These elements make any writing better and memorable. Well done!

Young Authors Program said...

That's a great idea to use poetry to dig deeper into your main character's POV. I may have to try that. I usually do a MC interview with 10-15 questions from their POV.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Linda and Dorothy!

Gretchen said...

Carol, this poem showed a point of view to me that I never considered. If this is an example of the emotions your upcoming book will bring, I know it will strike at the heart of the reader like this did mine.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you so much, Gretchen. I hope you’re right!

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