Happy Monday, everyone! Welcome back for Day 11 of NaPoWriMo.
Today’s featured participant is Poems and Drawings, where the book spine poem for Day Ten is cool and mysterious. I’m glad so many of you had fun with this prompt!
Our poet in translation for today is Afghanistan’s Shakila Azizzada. She’s known for her delicate and at the same time passionate love poems – check out the not-exactly-racy-but-still-sizzling poem “Cat Lying in Wait,” along with several others, at the link above.
And now for today’s (optional) prompt! Today, I challenge you to write a poem in which you closely describe an object or place, and then end with a much more abstract line that doesn’t seemingly have anything to do with that object or place, but which, of course, really does. I think of the “surprise” ending to this James Wright Poem as a model for the effect I’m hoping you’ll achieve. An abstract, philosophical kind of statement closing out a poem that is otherwise intensely focused on physical, sensory details. Happy writing!
Welcome back, everyone, for Day Ten – we’re now one-third of the way through NaPoWriMo!
Our featured participant today is grapeling, whose poem for Day Nine expresses the fear behind three of the simplest words.
Day 10’s poet in translation is Pakistan’s Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Faiz was known particularly for his ghazals, a traditional Urdu form of poetry. Six of his poems, translated into English, can be found here, and a number of additional poems are available here.
And now for our (optional) prompt! I know yesterday’s was a hard one for many of you, although I also was also very touched by the vulnerability and bravery displayed in your poems! But today’s prompt should be a little bit less emotionally involving — a nice chaser for yesterday. Today’s prompt comes to us from Lillian Hallberg. She challenges us to write a “book spine” poem. This involves taking a look at your bookshelves, and writing down titles in order (or rearranging the titles) to create a poem. Some fun images of book spine poems can be found here. If you want to take things a step further, Lillian suggests gathering a list of titles from your shelves (every third or fifth book, perhaps, if you have a lot) and using the titles, as close to the originals as possible, to create a poem that is seeded throughout with your own lines, interjections, and thoughts. Happy writing!
Hello, all! Welcome back for Day 9.
Today’s featured participant is Colour me in cyanide and cherries, where the flower poem for Day 8, about carnations, features multiple arresting images that build into a poem with mythical feel and heft.
Our poet in translation today is India’s Mallika Sengupta. Her poetry has been called “unapologetically political”, but it can also be pretty funny. I particularly like her “Open Letter to Freud,” which can be found, along with three other poems in English translation, at the link above. Further poems translated into English can be found here.
And now, for our prompt (optional, as always). This one sounds simple, but it can be pretty difficult. Today, I challenge you to write a poem that includes a line that you’re afraid to write. This might be because it expresses something very personal that makes you uncomfortable – either because of its content (“I always hated grandma”), or because it seems too emotional or ugly or strange (“I love you so much I would eat a cockroach for you”). Or even because it sounds too boring or expected (“You know what? I like cooking noodles and going to bed at 7 p.m.”). But it should be something that you’re genuinely a little scared to say. Happy (or if not happy, brave) writing!
We’ve passed the one week mark. I’m so happy to see that so many of you are still going strong!
Our featured participant for Day 8 is Ghazals and more at the bitter wished-for child, which shows how a successful tritina can be built from very simple language and simple words.
Our poet in translation today is Nepal’s Banira Giri. Giri emphasizes the importance of spontaneity in writing poetry, as well as expressing the connection between living things. In this way, her poems navigate between the personal and the political, the lyric “I” and the socially conscious “we.” Some of her poems, translated into English, can be found at the link above, here, and in the online literary journal The Drunken Boat.
And now, for our prompt (optional, as always). It’s Friday, and writing poems isn’t easy! So let’s give ourselves a break with a simple prompt today. Poets have been writing about flowers since, oh, the dawn of time. So today, I challenge you to add your own poem to this long tradition, by finding a flower, and versifying in its honor. Happy writing!
Happy Thursday, everyone! Today marks one full week of NaPoWriMo 2016. If you’ve been keeping up, give yourself a pat on the back. And if you’ve fallen behind, don’t fret – the point of NaPoWriMo isn’t to beat yourself up, but just to get some poems on the page.
Our featured participant for today is Kat Shamash, whose poem for Day Six marries the concept of food with travel and with the meeting of cultures. A very appropriate poem for this year’s translation-themed NaPo- and GloPo- WriMo!
Today, as we move ourselves east-to-west across the world, we dip our toe into Europe for the first time (albeit only because Russia is very very wide). Our featured poet in translation is Vsevelod Nekrasov, whose spare, minimalist work relies heavily on repetition, and which became more widely available in English with the 2013 publication of an English-language collection of his selected poems, I Live I See. You can find English versions of two of his poems here, another here, and four more (alongside the original Russian) here. Finally, if if you’re interested in learning more about Nekrasov, here’s a lengthy interview with him from 1993.
Our (optional) prompt for Day Seven comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us all to write a tritina. The tritina is a shorter cousin to the sestina, involving three, three-line stanzas, and a final concluding line. Three “end words” are used to conclude the lines of each stanza, in a set pattern of ABC, CAB, BCA, and all three end words appear together in the final line.
Confused? No problem — here’s an example!
Tritina for Susannah
The water off these rocks is green and cold.
The sandless coast takes the tide in its mouth,
as a wolf brings down a deer or lifts its child.
I walked this bay before you were my child.
Your fingers stinging brightly in the cold,
I take each one and warm it in my mouth.
Though I’ve known this shore for years, my mouth
holds no charms of use to you, my child.
You will have to learn the words to ward off cold
and know them cold, child, in your open mouth.
The form is a little complicated, but fun (and less complicated than a sestina, for sure!) Happy writing!
Welcome back for Day Six, everyone!
Our featured participant today is Kevin O’Conner, who struggled at first with our Day 5 prompt, but came up with a great poem, well-seeded with seed names.
Today’s featured poet in translation is Burma’s Ma Ei. Very little of her work is available in English, but you’ll find two poems at the link above, and two more here. In fact, it’s quite hard to find English translations of contemporary Burmese poets – a testament to the isolation that the country has faced as a result of long years of military dictatorship and civil war. However, you may be interested in checking out this short film, showcasing the work of contemporary Burmese poets, including Ma Ei, as well as this interview with James Byrne, editor of a recent anthology of Burmese poetry, which includes Ma Ei’s work.
And now, our (optional) prompt! Today, I challenge you to write a poem about food. This could be a poem about a particular food, or about your relationship to food in general. Or it could simply be a poem relating an incident that involves food, like David Ignatow’s “The Bagel”. Still not convinced? Perhaps these thirteen food poems will give you some inspiration. Happy writing!
Hello, all, and welcome back for the fifth day of NaPoWriMo (and GloPoWriMo!) 2016. Apologies for the late posting — I had the post all set to go for midnight . . . on the wrong day. At any rate, even if I haven’t quite gotten the hang of timely posting, I hope you’ve started to get into a groove with your writing practice. If not, be patient! Neither Rome nor poets were built in a day.
Today’s featured participant is “this. and other poems,” with a rhyming November-themed haiku. November here seems both cruel and kind, with its sense of a fine balance between cold and light.
Our poet in translation for today is China’s Jiang Hao. Born in 1972, Jiang Hao is known for both the experimental nature of his work, and his incorporation of classical Chinese themes and forms. At the link above, you’ll find English translations of six of his poems, and his work also appears in the anthology New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry 1990-2012, available from Tupelo Press.
And now, our (optional, as always) daily prompt! April is a time for planting things (at least where I am, in Washington DC – you may still be waiting for spring, or well into some other season!) At any rate, I’ve recently been paging through seed catalogs, many of which feature “heirloom” seeds with fabulous names. Consider the “Old Ivory Egg” tomato, the “Ozark Razorback” or “Fast Lady” cow-pea, “Neal’s Paymaster” dent corn, or the “Tongues of Fire” bush bean. Today, I challenge you to spend some time looking at the names of heirloom plants, and write a poem that takes its inspiration from, or incorporates the name of, one or more of these garden rarities. To help you out, here are links to the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and the Baker Creek Seed Company. Also, here’s a hint – tomatoes seem to be prime territory for elaborate names. And who knows, maybe you’ll even find something to plant in your garden! Happy writing!
Welcome back, everyone! It’s the fourth day of NaPoWriMo 2016, and the first Monday. I hope you’ve had your coffee!
Before I introduce our featured participant for the day, I wanted to point out a couple of resources and opportunities. First, at the NPM Daily blog, you’ll find a new interview with a poet each day during April. Second, in addition to writing poems for NaPoWriMo, maybe you’d be interested in making a guerrilla poetry video!
Our featured participant today is Ileea, who is participating in NaPoWriMo from Sweden! Her poem for Day 3 is a fan letter to the author Donna Tartt. My Swedish is pretty rusty (well, actually, it’s nonexistent), but with the help of Google, I’ve discovered lines in Ileea’s poem that would be wonderful in any language, like “It took eleven pages for me to love you,” and “Beauty is fear.”
Today’s featured poet in translation is Vietnam’s Nguyen Do. Known for the musicality of his work, Nguyen considers his poems “somber,” but not necessarily “sad.” Cerise Press has made available dual-language versions of several of his poems – see here, here, here, and here. Nguyen is also heavily involved in translating other Vietnamese poets’ work into English, working with Paul Hoover to produce an English-language version of the selected poems of Nguyen Trai, and an anthology of contemporary Vietnamese poetry, Black Dog, Black Night.
And now, for our (optional) prompt. In his poem “The Waste Land,” T.S. Eliot famously declared that “April is the cruelest month.” But is it? I’d have thought February. Today I challenge you to write a poem in which you explore what you think is the cruelest month, and why. Perhaps it’s September, because kids have to go back to school. Or January, because the holidays are over and now you’re up to your neck in snow. Or maybe it’s a month most people wouldn’t think of (like April), but which you think of because of something that’s happened in your life. Happy (or, if not happy, not-too-cruel) writing!
Welcome to the third day of NaPoWriMo. If you’re late to the party, no worries! We’ll be accepting submissions of websites where participants are posting their work right up through the end of April.
Today’s featured participant is emangarduque, who brings us a sweet double-haiku family portrait poem.
Our featured poet in translation for today is South Korea’s Kim Hyesoon. Her poetry, which has been widely translated into English, is known for its outsized, grotesque imagery, as well as its concern for the relationship between individuals and society. Poetry International has made English translations of around a dozen of her poems, as well as editorials and essays, available online.
And last but not least, here is today’s (optional, as always) prompt. Yesterday, we wrote portraits of families. Today, let’s turn our vision outward, and write fan letters. I challenge you to write a poem in the form of a fan letter to a celebrity. Now, this could be a celebrity from long ago, and needn’t be an actor or singer (though it could be). You could write to George Washington or Dorothy Dandridge, Marie Curie or The Weeknd. Happy writing!
Welcome back, everyone, for the second day of NaPoWriMo 2016. I hope that your experience of the first day filled you with confidence. And even if it didn’t, don’t worry – one of the nice things about writing thirty poems is they don’t all have to be slam dunks. NaPoWriMo is more about experimentation than perfection.
Today’s featured participant is Gene’s Musings, with a gently beautiful morning lune for Day One!
Before we move on to our poet in translation, I want to thank those of you who reminded me that I hadn’t yet posted our 2016 blog buttons! I also want to thank Aaron Compton, who came up with the term “GloPoWriMo,” or “Global Poetry Writing Month.” In addition to our standard NaPoWriMo buttons, I’ve made some GloPoWriMo banners for those of you who would like to trumpet your international participation!
Our poet in translation for today is Indonesia’s Toeti Herati. Born in 1933, she started publishing in her early forties, and her work is known for its feminist bent, using irony to expose Indonesian culture’s double standards. Very little of her work is available in English, but the Poetry Translation Center has posted English versions of seven of her poems online, and also offers a dual-language chapbook featuring her work.
And now, our daily (optional) prompt. Today, I challenge you to write a poem that takes the form of a family portrait. You could write, for example, a stanza for each member of your family. You could also find an actual snapshot of your family and write a poem about it, spending a little bit of time on each person in the picture. You don’t need to observe any particular form or meter. Happy writing!