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!
Hello, everyone. We’re three weeks into NaPoWriMo. This is the home stretch!
Our featured link for today is to Publisher’s Weekly’s Poetry Reviews. PW’s short-form reviews are a good way to keep up with what’s new in American poetry.
Our featured participant’s blog for today is bigger than a lasagna, where the poem for Day 20 accurately (and humorously) illustrates one of our words for yesterday, “rodomontade.” I also very much like the poem for Day 18 — tight and with more of an emotional punch than you would think so short a poem could offer.
And now the (optional) prompt! Today I challenge you to re-write Frank O’Hara’s Lines for the Fortune Cookies. When I was a kid, I found a fortune cookie recipe, and made the cookies, which were pretty good. But mostly I was attracted to the idea of writing the fortunes. Unfortunately (rimshot, here), I wrote such long ones that they were very difficult to fold up small enough to fit into the cookies! Hopefully, you won’t have that problem — after all, the ideal fortune is a one-liner, and one-liners thrive on a very poetic compactness of expression. This should be a good chance for all of us to practice that, and amusing to boot. Happy writing!
Hello, everyone. It’s the twentieth day of NaPoWriMo!
Our poetry-related link for the day is to The Volta, “a multimedia project of poetry, criticism, poetics, video, conversation (audio), and interview (text).”
Our featured participant is Richard Cowen, who has devoted his NaPoWriMo to limericks.
And now, the prompt. (As always, the prompt is optional). Today I challenge you to write a poem that uses at least five of the following words:
Welcome to Day 19, everyone!
Our poetry link today is to Coldfront Magazine, where you’ll find poetry news, reviews, and interviews (sometimes in twos).
Our featured participant’s blog for today is Cina Pelayo, where all of the poems are inspired by Jorge Luis Borges Poems of the Night.
And now our (completely optional) prompt! Today’s prompt comes to us from a list that Daisy Fried put together: Write a poem in the form of a personal ad!
Or, if you like, try any kind of want ad. Personal ads, though, do have a kind of poetry to them. The personal ads of the London Review of Books are particularly famous, and have even spawned a book. When I was younger, one of my favorite guilty pleasures was getting a copy of the local alternative newspaper and reading through the personal ads for (a) witty ones and (b) really horrible ones. One of my favorites was a witty one, which went something like this:
Ham-fisted, vindictive milquetoast seeks ineducable, filthy harridan to castigate, bore, and neglect.
Try and top that, if you like. (Oh, and by the way, the personal ad doesn’t actually have to be about you, of course. Feel free to invent every last thing about it). Happy writing!
Hello, all. We’re really just rolling along, aren’t we? I can’t believe we’re now 18 days into NaPoWriMo.
Today’s featured link is the Library of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center, which is celebrating its 75th Anniversary! Surf around the website and you’ll find webcasts, podcasts, interviews with poets, and a lot of great information about U.S. Poets Laureate.
Our featured participant’s blog for today is Taps and Ratamacues, where the poem for Day 16 is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll.
And now our (as always, optional) prompt! Today’s prompt comes to us from Cathy Evans, who challenges us to write a poem that begins and ends with the same word. You could try for something in media res, that begins and ends with “and,” for example. Or maybe “if.” Or perhaps you could really challenge yourself and begin/end your poem with a six-dollar word like “antidisestablishmentarianism.” (Just kidding!) Whatever word you choose, I hope you have fun with it!
Hello all, and welcome to you on this seventeenth day of NaPoWriMo!
Today’s poetry link is to The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church. Founded in 1966, the Project has been at the heard of New York’s poetry scene ever since, particularly on the experimental and avant-garde side of things. They sponsor weekly readings, workshops, and the Poetry Project Newsletter, which presents polemics, reviews, and poetry. They have a number of audio recordings available online, as well as back issues of the Newsletter and much, much more!
Our featured participant’s blog for today is Flood Poems, where the poem for Day 15 is so wonderfully evocative of the 1980s that I’ve now got “Angel was a Centerfold” stuck in my head.
And now our (totally optional) prompt! Early on in the month, I asked you to write a valediction — a poem of farewell. Today, let’s try the opposite, and write poems of greeting. There’s lots of things you could greet. The spring? Your new stapler? A favorite classmate? An addition to the menu at your local cafe? The subject’s up to you — now get out there and say “hello!”
Hello all, and welcome back for Day 16.
Today’s poetry-related link is Poetry International, which provides poems, both in their original languages and in translation, from all around the world. I’ve found it to be an amazing introduction to poets from other countries.
Today’s featured participant is Moon Junkee, where the superhero for Day 14 is Insomnia Girl. Don’t tell anyone, but that is who I turn into at night.
And now our (optional, as always) prompt. This is an oldie-but-a-goodie and it ties in nicely with our featured link! Today, I’d like you to write a “translation” of a poem in a language you don’t actually know. Go to the Poetry International Language List, pick a language, and then follow it to a poet and a poem. Generally the Poetry International website will present a poem in its original language on the left, and any translation on the right. Cut and paste the original into the text-editing program of your choice (and try not to peek too much at the translation). Now, use the sound and shape of the words and lines to guide you, without worrying too much about whether your translation makes sense.
For example, here are the first few lines of “Staden Glitrade,” by the Finnish poet Tua Forsström
Staden glittrade på avstånd, och
jag stannade. Det var så vackert med
anläggningar och terrasserade trädgårdar
I might translate this as:
Stadium trading glitter in the stands, our
jagged standard! There was so much made
of longing and of the tri-guarded tesseracts.
That might not make much sense, but it gives me some lovely ideas and images. Glittering stadiums, flags, shapes and desire. Those are some great ingredients for a poem!
Once you have your rough “translation,” you could leave it at that, or continue to shape the poem. It’s up to you. Happy writing!
Hello, everyone. Today marks the halfway point of NaPoWriMo. I hope your writing is going well!
Our featured link for the day is the Adademy of American Poets’ portal on poetic schools and movements. Don’t know your Russian Acmeists from your Imagists or Metaphysicals? This page will help you sort it all out.
Our featured participant’s blog is Lips and daggers, where Libby Loucks is working on a series of 14-word poems — often she posts four or five a day! It’s sort of like NaPoWriMo Plus.
And now our (again — totally optional) prompt! Today, I challenge you to write a pantun. Not a pantoum — though they are related. The pantun is a traditional Malay form, a style of which was later adapted into French and then English as the pantoum. A pantun consists of rhymed quatrains (abab), with 8-12 syllables per line. The first two lines of each quatrain aren’t meant to have a formal, logical link to the second two lines, although the two halves of each quatrain are supposed to have an imaginative or imagistic connection. Here’s an example:
I planted sweet-basil in mid-field.
Grown, it swarmed with ants,
I loved but am not loved,
I am all confused and helpless.*
The associative leap from the first couplet to the second allows for a great deal of surprise and also helps give the poems are very mysterious and lyrical quality. Try your hand at just one quatrain, or a bunch of them, and see how you do!
* It’s been pointed out that the example doesn’t rhyme, and its syllable count is suspect. All I can say is that it is a translation from a poem in Malay. A transliteration of the original is below–
Tanam selasih di tengah padang,
Sudah bertangkai diurung semut,
Kita kasih orang tak sayang,
Halai-balai tempurung hanyut.
As you can see, in the original, the abab rhyme is present, and the syllable count is right. Our translator appears to have been more concerned with substance than style! At any rate, I apologize for any confusion.
We’re two weeks into NaPoWriMo. I hope it’s going well for you!
Our featured link for the day is From the Fishouse, an online audio archive of readings by emerging poets.
Our featured participant’s blog is Matt Walker, where the poem for Day 11 makes leaps and turns that recreate the thought process, the process of coming together and fading away.
And now, our prompt. Today’s should be fun — I hope. I challenge you to write a persona poem — that is, a poem in the voice of a particular person who isn’t you. But I’d like you to choose a very particular kind of person. How about a poem in the voice of a superhero (or a supervillain)? Comic book characters are very much like mythological characters — they tend to embody big-picture values or personality traits. Good or bad. Loyal or disloyal! (Heck — some comic book characters are mythologial characters — think of Thor). And like mythological characters, superheroes and supervillains let us tap into deep-seated cultural tropes. So go for it. Whether you identify with Batman, Robin or – gulp – the Joker, let’s hear your poems in another voice. Happy writing!