Hello, all, and happy second Thursday of Na/GloPoWriMo 2019!
Today, our featured participant is sandee woodside, where the regional weather is . . . menacing.
Our video resource for today is this animated version of Safia Elhillo’s “To Make Use of Water,” a poem intimately concerned with translation, both in the sense of moving between languages, but also in the sense of moving between places and feelings, of having two homes and none.
Our optional prompt for today is based on another poem of Elhillo’s, called “Origin Stories.” Like “To Make Use of Water,” this poem struggles to make sense of the distance between the poet’s beginnings, her point of origin, and her present self. Have you ever heard the phrase, “you can’t go home again?” This poem is about that.
Today, taking a leaf from Elhillo’s work, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of origin. Where are you from? Not just geographically, but emotionally, physically, spiritually? Maybe you are from Vikings and the sea and diet coke and angry gulls in parking lots. Maybe you are from gentle hills and angry mothers and dust disappearing down an unpaved road. And having come from there, where are you now?
Happy (or at the very least, emotionally engaged) writing!
How about that, everyone? Today we are one-third of the way through Na/GloPoWriMo 2019!
Today’s featured participant is Small Burdens, where Day Nine’s Sei Shonagons-style prompt resulted in two lovely lists of “Things That Pull Asunder” and Things That Bind.”
Our video resource for today is this recording of Randy Rieman reading a poem at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Perhaps you did not know that cowboy poetry exists, much less that there is a big conference for it each year? Well, hang on to your six-gallon hats, because Mr. Rieman is about to blow you away with his rendition of this S. Omar Barker poem, which is awash in regional and dialect phrasing.
Our prompt for the day (optional, as always), is also rooted in dialect and regional phrasing. In her poem “Sunshower,” Natalie Shapero finds inspiration in a rather colorful phrase used in Mississippi and Alabama to describe the situation in which it rains while the sun is shining.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that starts from a regional phrase, particularly one to describe a weather phenomenon. You may remember one from growing up, bu if you’re having trouble getting started, perhaps one of these regional U.S. phrases used to describe warm weather will inspire you. Or you might enjoy these French terms for cold weather, or even these expressions from the British Isles that are mostly for the very British phenomenon of rain.
Hello, all, and happy ninth day of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Today, our featured participant is MD Kerr, where the business jargon for Day Eight produced a hallucinatory excursion into the language of companies advertising specialty tile. We know how exciting that sounds, but trust us.
Our video for the day is this BBC film of a poem called “The British.” When the sun never sets on your empire, you wind up with a lot of varied cuisine! Keep your eyes peeled for the cameo by a Roman centurion. Perhaps he’s going to check on Hadrian’s Wall?
Our (optional) prompt for the day asks you to engage in another kind of cross-cultural exercise, as it is inspired by the work of Sei Shonagon, a Japanese writer who lived more than 1000 years ago. She wrote a journal that came to be known as The Pillow Book. In it she recorded daily observations, court gossip, poems, aphorisms, and musings, including lists with titles like “Things That Have Lost Their Power,” “Adorable Things,” and “Things That Make Your Heart Beat Faster.” Today, I’d like to challenge you to write your own Sei Shonagon-style list of “things.” What things? Well, that’s for you to decide!
Welcome back, everyone, for the second week of Na/GloPoWriMo!
Our featured participant today is Poem Dive, where Day Eight’s prompt of gifts and joy is full of sensory detail. I can feel the sunlight!
Our video resource today is this short film version of Maggie Smith’s poem, “Good Bones.” (The full text of the poem is available on the page, as well). You may have heard this poem before. In an age when poetry sometimes seems like the most disregarded of arts, it went “viral” in 2016, as recounted in this article from The Washington Post. The reception of “Good Bones” is a potent reminder that poetry is a vibrant method for understanding the world, and understanding what we want from it, and from each other.
Our prompt for the day (optional, as always), is inspired by Smith’s poem. You may have noted that the central metaphor of “Good Bones” turns on a phrase used by real estate agents. Today, I’d like to challenge you to think about the argot of a particular job or profession, and see how you can incorporate it into a metaphor that governs or drives your poem. This rather astonishing list of professional slang terms might help you get into the mood. Or, if you work a white-collar job, perhaps you can take inspiration from one of the business jargon phrases that seem to predominate in corporate environments (leveraging diverse synergies, anyone?)
Hello, everyone, and welcome back. Today marks the one-week mark for Na/GloPoWriMo 2019! We hope you feel like you’re hitting your stride with this whole write-a-poem-every-day thing.
Our featured participant today is Garten der Gedichte, where the poem of the possible for Day 6 shows that poetry can happen even amidst distractions.
Today’s poetry resource is another TED talk, this one from Rachel McKibbens, on “Poetry as Therapy.” Now, if you’ve ever been in a creative writing class, you might have been told that poetry isn’t therapy, and shouldn’t be written as such. But one of the reasons people don’t just make art, but actively seek it out, is that by hearing or seeing other people express feelings similar to our own, we feel more human and less alone.
Our prompt for the day (optional, as always) is also inspired by McKibbens, who posted these thoughts on her Twitter account a few months back:
What do you deserve? Name it. All of it. What are you ready to let go of? Name that too. Then name the most gentle gift for yourself. Name the brightest song your body’s ever held. Summon joy like you would a child; call it home. It wanders, yes. But it’s still yours.
Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of gifts and joy. What would you give yourself, if you could have anything? What would you give someone else?
Happy Saturday, everyone!
Our featured participant for the sixth day of Na/GloPoWriMo is Everyday Strange, where the villanelle-based prompt for Day 5 resulted in an eerie poem with even more repetitions than the average villanelle.
Today’s video is this TED talk on “Why People Need Poetry.” If you’re participating in Na/GloPoWriMo, you might not need any convincing yourself on this issue, but it’s always good to have a few arguments handy if you need to persuade someone else (your spouse, your kid, your Lyft driver…)
And now, for our (optional) prompt. Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of the possible. What does that mean? Well, take a look at these poems by Raena Shirali and Rachel Mennies. Both poems are squarely focused not on what has happened, or what will happen, but on what might happen if the conditions are right. Today, write a poem that emphasizes the power of “if,” of the woulds and coulds and shoulds of the world.
Happy Friday, everyone, and happy fifth day of Na/GloPoWriMo. We hope yesterday’s sad prompt hasn’t dampened your desire to write poetry!
Our featured participant for the day is A Writer without Words, whose sad sonnet for Day Four packs a powerful story into fourteen short lines.
Today’s resource is this video of the poet Kyle Dargan reading “Call and Response,” a poem that he wrote by mixing and mingling the text of the Lord’s Prayer with “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash. Dargan’s poem exemplifies the way that the pre-existing universe of words – songs, prayers, snatches of overheard conversation – becomes part of us, and part of the background against which (and with which) we write our own poetry.
And now, for our daily prompt (optional as always). Today’s prompt comes from another poem by Kyle Dargan, called “Diaspora: A Narcolepsy Hymn.” This poem, like “Call and Response,” is inspired by the work of others – in this case, the poet Morgan Parker, and lyrics from songs by Beyoncé and The Notorious B.I.G. The poem also partakes of one of the most difficult poetic forms, the villanelle. The classic villanelle has five three-line stanzas followed by a final, four-line stanza. The first and third lines of the first stanza alternately repeat as the last lines of the following three-line stanzas, before being used as the last two lines of the final quatrain. And to make it an even more virtuoso performance, Dargan’s alternating lines, besides being taken from songs, express “opposing” ideas, with one being about sleeping, and the other waking.
Following Dargan’s lead, today we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates at least one of the following: (1) the villanelle form, (2) lines taken from an outside text, and/or (3) phrases that oppose each other in some way. If you can use two elements, great – and if you can do all three, wow!
Hello, everyone, and welcome back for the fourth day of Na/GloPoWriMo!
Today, our featured participant is 7eyedwonder, who responded to the time-focused prompt for Day 3 with a moving account of a father’s passing.
Today’s video resource is this recording of the American poet Craig Morgan Teicher, reading what he calls his “relentlessly sad poems.” That might not sound like something you want to deal with on a Thursday, but one of the wonderful things about poetry is that it can express feelings that we often think aren’t “okay” to express or feel – emotions that are uncomfortable but universal.
And now for today’s (optional) prompt, inspired by Teicher’s poem “Son“. One thing you might notice about this poem is that it is sad, but that it doesn’t generate that feeling through particularly emotional words. The words are very simple. Another thing you might notice is that it’s a sonnet – not in strict iambic pentameter, but fourteen rhymed, relatively short lines.
Today, we’d like to challenge you to write your own sad poem, but one that, like Teicher’s, achieves sadness through simplicity. Playing with the sonnet form may help you – its very compactness can compel you to be straightforward, using plain, small words.
Happy (or sad, we guess) writing!
Hello, everyone! We’re now three days into Na/GloPoWriMo. Hopefully, you’re starting to get into the swing of things. And if you are just joining us – welcome!
Before we get into our regular daily features, we wanted to point out this interview with longtime participant Vince Gotera, who has just published a book called The Coolest Month, featuring poems written during past Na/GloPoWriMos. Congratulations, vince!
Our featured participant today is A Reading Writer, where the interrogatory prompt for Day Two gave rise to a very slithery metaphor!
Today’s video resource is this animated version of Erin Mouré’s “Homage to the Mineral of Cabbage.” The English text of the poem is cleverly incorporated into the video, but the narration is in Galician, a language spoken in Northwest Spain. My Spanish is pretty rusty, but for me that adds to the audible mystery and delight of this video – I can almost understand it. For even more multi-lingual flavor, you can also see the video with French-language text here.
And now for today’s prompt (optional as always). Today’s prompt is based in a poem by Larry Levis called “The Two Trees.” It is a poem that seems to meander, full of little digressions, odd bits of information, but fundamentally, it is a poem that takes time. It takes its time getting where it’s going, and the action of the poem itself takes place over months. Today, I’d like to challenge you to similarly write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time. Perhaps, as you do, you can focus on imagery, or sound, or emotional content (or all three!)
Welcome back, all, for our second day of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Today’s featured participant is Not Enough Poetry, where the instructional prompt for Day 1 yielded an evocative poem about riding a train in the Andes.
For our featured video, we have today a sort of poetry music video, involving a highly dramatic reading, in German, of a Shakespearean sonnet set to the music of Rufus Wainwright. As one of the commenters on the video stated, “I didn’t understand anything but I love it with all my heart.” Poetry can be like that, sometimes!
Today’s prompt (optional, as always) is based on this poem by Claire Wahmanholm, which transforms the natural world into an unsettled dream-place. One way it does this is by asking questions – literally. The poem not only contains questions, but ends on a question. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.