Restructuring Stanzas

Here, we dicuss the effects restructing a stanza can have on the poem. Restructuring a stanza, often, includes tweaking word choice, merging one or more lines, deleting a stanza, and playing with its location in the entire poem. 

Version 12 of “The Gasoline Sportcoat”

Version 12 of the poem "The Gasoline Sportcoat" by Stephen Dunn.

In this version, the thirty-line poem has been reduced to twenty-seven lines. The deletion has altered the tone but the overall meaning of the poem remains the same. These are the lines that have been deleted:

The fact is,

It’s a damn sportcoat - -

It’s supposed to help get a man

Through the day, and it just about does.

Without it, you understand,

I recede let almost everything pass.

In the above lines, the speaker attempts to dispel the myth of the sportcoat. He says that it is merely a sportcoat and all it does is to “get a man through his day” with confidence. Hence, these final lines drive home the point that this piece of fabric is a mask that lends him the courage to be a different person.

Here are the last few lines of the revised version:

And I like to imagine it catching fire,

as if it could test for me how much

too much is,

Though in every case I live to tell about it.

In this version of the poem, the tone of the speaker is much more confident. Though the confidence is still false since it is only because of the sportcoat. But deleting a few lines and tweaking the word choice have made the tone firm and strong, while keeping the message the same.