Another NaPoWriMo has come and gone! My thanks to everyone who participated, and a special shout-out to those of you who met the challenge and wrote 30 poems. If you didn’t quite make it this year, however, don’t worry — there’s always next time.
Thanks also to everyone who wrote in with comments and suggestions for the website. I hope to implement several improvements for next year. In the meantime, all sites, posts, and comments will be left up for at least a month or two. Thanks again, everyone, and I hope you had fun!
Hello, all! It’s the final day of NaPoWriMo 2013. Thank you all for participating — this has been the biggest year yet. More than 2000 people signed up!
Our poetry-related link for the day is to Lemonhound, where you’ll find essays and reviews on poetry and poetics, as well as new poems by contemporary poets.
Our featured participant’s blog for the day is Joanna Penn Cooper. Her poems have a serious levity to them — a sort of humorous gravity. Is that a contradiction? Maybe, but take a look and perhaps you’ll see what I mean.
And now our final (and still optional) prompt! I know I’ve used this one in prior years, but it’s one of my favorites, so bear with me. Find a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite. For example, you might turn “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” to “I won’t contrast you with a winter’s night.” Your first draft of this kind of opposite poem will likely need a little polishing, but this is a fun way to respond to a poem you like, while also learning how that poem’s rhetorical strategies really work. (It’s sort of like taking a radio apart and putting it back together, but for poetry). Happy writing!
Hello, all! Just two days left now. I’m so happy to see how many of you have made it this far!
Our poetry-related link for the day is to htmlgiant, a literary blog that routinely features articles and reviews on new poetry.
Today’s featured participant’s blog is undercaws. The poem for Day 27 was put together from overheard conversation, as discussed in the very interesting process notes. It can be great fun to learn how a poem gets made — and this one is no exception.
And now our (optional, as always) prompt. In honor of the many poets outside of the United States who are participating in NaPoWriMo, Gloria Gonsalves (originally from Tanzania and now living in Germany) has suggested that we try writing poems that contain at least five words in other languages. You could perhaps write a poem that takes place in a foreign country or, like our featured blogger for the day, write a poem based on overheard conversation (inclusive of foreign words). So whether you have to dig deep into what you remember from high-school Spanish, or use a dictionary to translate a few interesting words into other languages, why not drop a Mohrrübe or an asciugamano into your work today (even if it seems de trop. Happy writing!
Hello, all. We’re in the home stretch now — counting today, there’s just three days left in NaPoWriMo.
Our poetry-related link for the day is to Montevidayo, a multi-authored blog that host reviews, conversations, essays, and other evolving conversations on poetry, poetics, art, movies, and the general artistic-poetic condition.
Our featured participant’s site for the day is The Bloof Books blog, where many of the poets published by Bloof Books are posting their NaPoWriMo efforts. You’ll find poems by Shanna Compton, Peter Davis, Kirsten Kaschock, Becca Klaver, Pattie McCarthy, Danielle Pafunda, Catie Rosemurgy, Sandra Simonds, Jared White, and Elisabeth Workman.
And now, the prompt (as always, the prompt is optional). Today, I’d like you to pick a color. How many synonyms are there for your color (e.g., green, chartreuse, olive, veridian)? Is your color associated with a specific mood (e.g., red = passion, rage, blue = hope, truth). Look around the room, take a walk — note everything you see that is your chosen color. Then start writing, using the color as a guide.
If you’re having trouble getting started, here are a few examples of “color” poems — Federico Garcia Lorca’s Romance Sonambulo, e.e. cummings’ All in Green Went My Love Riding, and (a personal favorite) Diane Wakoski’s Blue Monday. Happy writing!
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the 27th day of NaPoWriMo!
Our poetry-related link today is to the Lit Pub, which publishes book “recommendations,” rather than book “reviews.” They feature poetry books fairly regularly, and they also publish books, including books of prose poems and lyric essays.
Our participant’s link for the day is grapeling, where all of the poems are joined by one quality — similes and metaphors that really sing.
And now the (optional) prompt! Today, I challenge you to use the wondrous powers of the Internet to help you write, and I have a particular method in mind. Think of a common proverb or phrase — something like “All that glitters is not gold,” or “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Then plug the first three words of the phrase into a search engine. Skim through the first few pages of results, collecting (rather like a poetic magpie) words and phrases that interest you. Then use those words and phrases as the inspirations (and some of the source material) for a new poem. Happy writing!
Hello, everyone! It’s Day 26 of NaPoWriMo. Counting today, we’ve got just five days left!
Our poetry-related link for the day is to THEthe Poetry, where you’ll find all kinds of interviews, poems, reviews, and even poetry comics!
Our featured participant’s link for the day is “that’s mrs. mediocrity to you”. I’m a terrible sleeper myself, so that may be why I so enjoyed the poem for Day 24, “the origins of cave painting.” But these poems in general have a very lovely sense of pacing and sound, as well as a subtle, assured tone.
And now, the (optional) prompt. This one’s a bit tricky, but I’ve used it to good effect in the past — and it’s the sort of thing you can do over and over again. Back in 1977, the poet Ronald Johnson first published RADI OS, an “erasure” of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Basically, Johnson took a copy of Milton’s long poem, and systematically erased whole words and even lines, while maintaining the relative position of the remaining words. You can see a brief excerpt here.
Today, I challenge you to perform an erasure of your own. You don’t need to start with a poem as long as Paradise Lost, of course, but a tolerably long poem is usually needed to furnish enough material so that the final product isn’t just a few words long (though erasure haiku might be a fun new subgenre). A few long poems that might respond well to erasure could be Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, or Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott. Go ahead and copy and paste the text into a document, and then start whiting-out words. Or make a photocopy of a long poem you like, and mark over words on the copy. You can form a whole new poem just by taking words away! Once you’re done, you can leave the spaces as they are (I rather like the “ghosted” look of all that empty space), or take the left-over words and keep playing with them, reforming new poems from them. Happy writing!
Hello, there. It’s Day 25 of NaPoWriMo!
Our featured link for the day is to LitBridge, where you’ll find a variety of resources, including links to poetry contests, poetry journals, publishers and conferences, and a blog full of tips on how to get your writing out into the world.
Our featured participant’s blog for the day is The Big Horse. The triolet for Day 23 has a rather neat turn on impatience/impatiens, and the personal ad for Day 19 gave me a chuckle.
And now, our (optional) prompt. I already asked you to write a sea chanty. Today, let’s try another musical form — the ballad. Traditionally, ballads were rhymed poems that told a story of some kind, and were often set to music. They were sometimes set in four-line verses, with an ABAB rhyme pattern, employing alternating 8 and 6 syllable, iambic lines. This 8/6 iambic pattern is sometimes referred to as ballad meter. The use of this type of pattern was not universal, however, and old ballads often involve different syllable counts, as well as refrains that break up the verses.
The form has generated many sub-genres over the years, including the sentimental ballad (think “Danny Boy“), the gruesome murder ballad, and of course, the power ballad. The form’s come a long way from the folk songs with which it began, but the narrative aspect of the ballad remains intact.
Your ballad could be sad, or funny. It could tell a tale of love, or murder, or just something silly. If you have any musical talent, it might be fun to try and actually make a tune for your ballad! Happy writing.
Hello all, and welcome back for the 24th day of NaPoWriMo!
Today’s poetry related link is to The Poetry Society of the United Kingdom. Founded in 1909, the Society publishes Poetry Review and also engaged in the almost-too-British endeavor of knitting a very large poem to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Our featured participant’s blog for the day is The Ellipsiad, where the predictive-text/ottava-rima/fortune-cookie poem for the 21st is utterly charming.
And now, the prompt (which is optional)! Today I’d like you to think about words buried in words. In particular, think about the words buried in your own name. Plug your name into an anagram generator, like this one, and try writing a self-portrait poem using words that are generated. (Don’t worry if it takes a minute or two to generate the anagrams — you’d be surprised how many different ones a name will generate — mine generted 107,144 anagrams, and I didn’t even use my middle name)!
Hello, everyone. There’s just one week left in this year’s NaPoWriMo!
Our featured link for the day is to The California Journal of Poetics, where you’ll find reviews, interviews, poems, criticism and more.
Our featured participant is Mark Lamoureux, where the spare lean lines of the poem for the 22nd both speed and pace the reader through the words.
And now our (as always, optional) prompt. Today, let’s try writing triolets. A triolet is an eight-line poem. All the lines are in iambic tetramenter (for a total of eight syllables per line), and the first, fourth, and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines. This means that the poem begins and ends with the same couplet. Beyond this, there is a tight rhyme scheme (helped along by the repetition of lines) — ABaAabAB.
Here’s an example by Thomas Hardy:
Birds at Winter
Around the house the flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone
From holly and cotoneaster
Around the house. The flakes fly! – faster
Shutting indoors the crumb-outcaster
We used to see upon the lawn
Around the house. The Flakes fly faster
And all the berries now are gone!
Triolets were in vogue among the Victorians — all those repetitions can add a sort of melancholy gravitas to a poem, but watch out! They can also make the poem sound oddly gong-like. A playful, satirical poem, on the other hand, can be easily written in the triolet form, especially if you can find a way to make the non-repeating lines slightly change the meaning of the repeated ones. Here’s an example of a modern, humorous triolet, by Wendy Cope:
My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.
Whatever you’ve got lined up,
My heart has made its mind up
And if you can’t be signed up
This year, next year will do.
My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.
Hello, all! It’s Day 22 of NaPoWriMo.
Our featured link for the day is to Jacket2, an online magazine featuring commentary on modern and contemporary poetry and poetics. You’ll find reviews, interviews, and essays, as well as podcasts and digitized versions of out-of-print poetry journals.
Our features blog for the day is Masonry Design. This is Peter Roberts’ third year doing NaPoWriMo and, amazingly, it’s also the third year running that he is writing only poems about masonry!
And now, the prompt (it doesn’t have anything to do with masonry and, as always, is totally optional). Today is Earth Day. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and is now celebrated internationally. In honor of the occasion, I challenge you to write a poem in keeping with Earth Day — it could be a reflection on what’s growing in your garden, a modern pastoral, or a Marianne-Moore-style poem about an animal. Anything to do with the natural world is fair game. Happy writing!