Today is April 20th, and that means we are now two-thirds of the way through Na/GloPoWriMo, 2018. Time flies when you’re writing poems!
Today’s featured participant is Summer Blues, where the simple language of the poem written for Day 19’s structured erasure prompt eases you into a subtle but satisfying resolution.
Our craft resource for the day is Alice Notley’s essay, The Poetics of Disobedience. In it, Notley advocates for a poet to “maintain a state of disobedience against…everything.” By this she means remaining open to all forms, all subjects, and not becoming beholden to “usual” methods for writing. Whenever we are sure that there is one “right” way to write, or some specific set of topics that are the “right” ones to discuss, we should ask ourselves, what part of experience are we leaving out? And why?
Our prompt for the day (optional as always) takes its cue from Notley’s rebelliousness, and asks you to write a poem that involves rebellion in some way. The speaker or subject of the poem could defy a rule or stricture that’s been placed on them, or the poem could begin by obeying a rule and then proceed to break it (for example, a poem that starts out in iambic pentameter, and then breaks into sprawling, unmetered lines). Or if you tend to write funny poems, you could rebel against yourself, and write something serious (or vice versa). Whatever approach you take, your poem hopefully will open a path beyond the standard, hum-drum ruts that every poet sometimes falls into.
Happy 19th day of Na/GloPoWriMo, everyone!
Our featured participant for the day is clay and branches, where the “work-your-way-up-from-the-bottom” poem for Day Eighteen is an unsettling, intensive narrative.
Today, we have a new interview for you, with the poet Dan Brady, whose first book of poems, Strange Children, is newly out from Publishing Genius. Brady is the poetry editor for Barrelhouse Magazine, and the author of the chapbooks Cabin Fever / Fossil Record (Flying Guillotine Press, 2014) and Leroy Sequences (Horse Less Press, 2014). You can read some of Brady’s poems here and check out our interview with him here.
Our (optional) prompt for the day takes it cue from Brady’s suggestion that erasure/word banks can allow for compelling repetitive effects. Today we challenge you to write a paragraph that briefly recounts a story, describes the scene outside your window, or even gives directions from your house to the grocery store. Now try erasing words from this paragraph to create a poem or, alternatively, use the words of your paragraph to build a new poem.
Welcome back, everyone, for the 18th day of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Today’s featured participant is Oaks to Acorns, where the family anecdote poem for Day 17 powerfully evokes the sensation of a journey, and a homecoming.
Today we have a new craft resource for you, in the form of this collection of images of poets’ first drafts of their poems, complete with their crossings-out/notes. I find these particularly interesting in how they show a poet’s own evaluation of their initial thoughts – what works, what doesn’t work, what is too discursive, what is too confusing, and how certain lines/ideas can move from where they originally sat to new places to heighten the overall rhetorical effect of the poem.
Our prompt for the day (optional as always) isn’t exactly based in revision, but it’s not exactly not based in revision, either. It also sounds a bit more complicated than it is, so bear with me! First, find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with). Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now move your piece of paper up to uncover the second-to-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem. It might not be a finished draft, but hopefully it at least contains the seeds of one.
Hello, all! Happy Tuesday, and Happy 17th Day of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Our featured participant today is Ordinary Average Thoughts, where the “play” poem for Day 16 veers off in a rather odd direction, but it was so interesting I couldn’t help but feature it!
We bring you a new interview today, and this one is very special to us, because it is with a poet who has long participated in Na/GloPoWriMo – Uma Gowrishankar. Her book of poems, Birthing History, was published last year by Leaky Boot Press. You can read her current crop of Na/GloPoWriMo poems here, some more of her work here, and you can check out our interview with her here.
Our prompt for the day (optional as always) follows Gowrishankar’s suggestion that we write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time. It could be the story of the time your Uncle Louis caught a home run ball, the time your Cousin May accidentally brought home a coyote and gave it a bath, thinking it was a stray dog, or something darker (or even sillier).
Hello, everyone! We’re now officially in the second half of Na/GloPoWriMo. Hopefully you’ve found your versical rhythm, so to speak, and you’ll find that writing poems the remainder of the month will be a snap.
Today’s featured participant is Katie Staten, whose response to the villainous prompt for Day Fifteen imagines a day in the life of Ursula the Sea Witch.
We have a new craft resource for you today, or maybe an anti-craft resource, in the form of this essay by Michael Bazzett warning against the fetishization of craft. Thinking hard thoughts about word choice, line breaks, sound, and structure can help to make a poem better, but too much emphasis on perfection can breed stale, airless verse. There always has to be room for play, and not just work, in our poems.
In this vein, our (optional, as always) prompt for the day asks you to write a poem that prominently features the idea of play. It could be a poem about a sport or game, a poem about people who play (or are playing a game), or even a poem in the form of the rules for a sport or game that you’ve just made up (sort of like Calvinball).
Today marks the halfway point of this year’s Na/GloPoWriMo! It’s been great to see how many of you have kept up with the project this year. Hooray for poems!
Our featured participant today is ivoryfishbone, where the dream poem for Day Fourteen takes a fantastic, yet sinister turn.
We have a new interview for you today, this time with Sarah Blake, whose second full-length book of poetry, Let’s Not Live on Earth, is newly out from Wesleyan University Press. Blake’s first book of poetry, Mr. West, was also published by Wesleyan, and her debut novel, Naamah, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books. You can read several of Blake’s poems here, and our interview with her here.
And now for our prompt (optional, as always). In her interview, Blake suggests writing a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil). Perhaps this could mean the witch from Hansel & Gretel has lost her beloved cat, and is going about the neighborhood sticking up heart-wrenching “Lost Cat” signs, but still finds human children delicious. Maybe Blackbeard the Pirate is lost at sea in an open boat, remembering how much he loved his grandmother (although he will still kill the first person dumb enough to scoop him from the waves).
Today, we are two weeks into Na/GloPoWriMo. I hope you feel that your writing is humming along. And if you’ve gotten behind, don’t worry – there’s plenty of time to catch up!
Today’s featured participant is erbiage, for whom the invert-a-familiar-phrase prompt for Day 13 produced very punny results!
Our craft resource for the day is a short piece by Robert Frost, called The Figure a Poem Makes. In it, Frost argues – albeit in somewhat lyrical language (poets don’t always make the clearest prose writers!) – for wildness in poetry – language and meanings that surprise not just the reader, but the writer.
And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Dream dictionaries have been around as long as people have had dreams. Interestingly, if you consult a few of them, they nearly always tend to have totally different things to say about specific objects or symbols. Dreams, unlike words themselves, don’t seem to be nicely definable! At any rate, today’s prompt is to write entries for an imaginary dream dictionary. Pick one (or more) of the following words, and write about what it means to dream of these things:
Hello, all. Today is the thirteenth day of Na/GloPoWriMo, and it’s just as lucky as every day in which poetry gets written!
Our featured participant today is lady in the pines, where the haibun for Day Twelve gives this daughter of Minnesotans a taste of nostalgia!
Today, we bring you an interview with Brendan Lorber, whose first full-length book of poetry, If this is paradise why are we still driving?, will be published this spring by Subpress. Lorber’s poetry has appeared in journals including American Poetry Review, Fence, and McSweeney’s. He is the editor and publisher of Lungfull! Magazine, an annual anthology of contemporary literature that publishes rough drafts alongside contributors’ final work. You can read two of Lorber’s recent poems here, and our interview with him here.
And now for our prompt (optional, as always!), drawn from a suggestion provided in Lorber’s interview. Today, we challenge you to write a poem in which the words or meaning of a familiar phrase get up-ended. For example, if you chose the phrase “A stitch in time saves nine,” you might reverse that into something like: “a broken thread; I’m late, so many lost.” Or “It’s raining cats and dogs” might prompt the phrase “Snakes and lizards evaporate into the sky.” Those are both rather haunting, strange images, and exploring them could provide you with an equally haunting, strange poem (or a funny one!)
Welcome back, everyone, for another day of poetry, poetry, poetry!
Today, our featured participant is woody and johnny, where the “future self” poem for Day Ten is a cosmic confection.
Our craft resource for the day is an essay by Aimee Nezhukumatathil on writing haibun – a Japanese form that blends prose-based travel writing with haiku.
Today’s (optional) prompt picks up from our craft resource. We’ve challenged you to tackle the haibun in past years, but it’s such a fun one, we couldn’t resist again. Today, we’d like to challenge you specifically to write a haibun that takes in the natural landscape of the place you live. It may be the high sierra, dusty plains, lush rainforest, or a suburbia of tiny, identical houses – but wherever you live, here’s your chance to bring it to life through the charming mix-and-match methodology of haibun.
Good morning, everyone! I hope you’re ready for another fine day of poetry writing.
Today’s featured participant is April’s Thirty, where the simultaneity poem for Day Ten is full of small details that contribute to its power.
Our interviewee for the day is Kwoya Fagin Maples. Her first full-length book of poetry, MEND, is forthcoming from the University Press of Kentucky. Maples is also the author of the chapbook Something of Yours, published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press, and her work is published in journals including Blackbird Literary Journal, Obsidian, Berkeley Poetry Review, and the African-American Review. You can read more about MEND, along with some excerpts, here, and you can read our interview with Maples here.
Our (optional, as always) prompt for the day is taken from one of the prompts that Kwoya Fagin Maples suggests in here interview: a poem that addresses the future, answering the questions “What does y(our) future provide? What is your future state of mind? If you are a citizen of the “union” that is your body, what is your future “state of the union” address?”