Writing an Apology Poem

Some poems take the form of “direct address”—that is, the speaker in the poem talks directly to a specific person. An apology poem uses direct address to apologize for something the speaker has done or said. One of the most famous examples is William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say.” As you read the poem, decide for yourself whether the speaker is actually sorry for what he has done.

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet and so cold

** Think of a situation like this from your own life.  Have you ever been forced to apologize when you didn’t really mean it? Try to recall two or three examples of times like this from your own experience. For each example, write a very short description of what you have done (the action).

** Think about details of sense (taste, touch, sound, sight, or smell) or situation that will offer your readers a clear idea of what the action meant for you.

** Choose one of your examples to create your apology poem in a similar format to the one by Williams, with very short lines and no punctuation.

** Try writing a poem for each of the real-life situations that you thought about. You can use “This is just to say” as your first line if you wish. If you want, you can also include the words “Forgive me” in the last stanza of your poem.

** You can experiment with different ways to make line breaks or stanza breaks in order to get the effect that you want.

Remember, there’s no wrong way to write an apology poem. When William Carlos Williams wrote “This Is Just to Say,” no one had ever created a poem quite like this before. You can borrow his format if you want, or you can create something totally new. Have fun!