Hello, everyone! It’s the first day of NaPoWriMo – I hope your poetry muscles are all warmed up.
We’ll be featuring a participant’s blog and an online poetry resource each day, as well as an (optional, as always) prompt. If you have ideas for featured participants or resources, or an idea for a prompt, let us know at napowrimonet-AT-gmail-DOT-com – we’ll credit it you if we use them!
Today’s featured participating site is the Poetry Month Scouts (PoMoSco) blog. Organized by the Found Poetry Review, the blog’s 213 participants are writing experimental and found poems each day for the month of April. They’ve gotten right out of the gate with a variety of poems produced by remixing and erasing existing texts.
And our first featured resource is the humorously-named Real Pants – a new online literary blog from the folks behind Publishing Genius Press. At Real Pants, you’ll find interviews with poets, prompts, and poet-written columns about everything from book cover design to fashion, and much, much more. I’ve really enjoyed reading along with Real Pants since the site launched in January – I hope you will, too.
And now, without further ado, our optional prompt. Today’s prompt is a poem of negation – yes (or maybe, no), I challenge you to write a poem that involves describing something in terms of what it is not, or not like. For example, if you chose a whale as the topic of your poem, you might have lines like “It does not settle down in trees at night, cooing/Nor will it fit in your hand.” Happy writing!
Eee! Can you feel the poetry excitement in the air? NaPoWriMo begins tomorrow!
For all you early birds who’d like to post your first poems as soon as possible on April 1 (and in recognition of the fact that, by the time NaPoWriMo rolls around on the east coast of the United States, it will already have been April 1 for some hours in much of the globe), today we are featuring an “extra” prompt. As always, the prompts are optional. If this one doesn’t suit you, or if you have other ideas, feel free to ignore!
Without further ado, the prompt is this: Take a look at this poem by Bernadette Mayer, a “New York School” poet whose highly influential book, Sonnets, was recently reissued by Tender Buttons Press. Like other poets associated with the New York School, Mayer pushed the boundaries of what poetry could be and could talk about, writing in a straightforward, highly vernacular style that belies the rhetorical complexity of the work. Mayer’s lamentation for the other lives we could have led is something we probably have all felt. Today, why not try writing your own poem that begins “I guess it’s too late to live on a farm”? Or if you already live on a farm, why not “I guess it’s too late to live in the city”? Or, if you’ve lived on both farms and in cities, perhaps it’s too late to live on a boat or in the mountains or on the moon or in an underground missile silo?
By the way, for those of you in search of greater inspiration than our daily prompts may provide, Mayer is the author of a well-loved series of journaling ideas and poetry “experiments” that have kept generations of budding and experienced poets happily engaged. If you feel your creativity sagging, why not check it out?
In the meantime, Happy Writing!
NaPoWriMo is just two days away, and as we draw ever closer to the starting line, we thought we’d tackle a topic that is near and dear to nearly every poet’s heart: how do I get published?
Well, it’s as simple – and as hard – as identifying magazines or journals that you think would be a good fit for your work, and following their submission guidelines. (Sadly, your first publication is very unlikely to be a hard-cover full-length collection brought out by a major press, unless you just so happen to be, say, the owner/editor of a major press). The Academy of American Poets has this useful FAQ for those who are just getting started on this journey. And here’s another from Poets & Writers Magazine.
As for finding the likely journals – well, we’re afraid you’re in for some reading! It’s very difficult to tell whether a journal or magazine would be a good home for your work without reading it. But with so many journals operating online, it’s easier to survey the field now than it was in the past. Keep your eyes open for magazines/journals that publish work you admire, and always remember to follow the guidelines. Many journals receive simply incredible numbers of submissions during their reading periods, and will reject outright any submission that doesn’t follow guidelines. It doesn’t seem very fair, we know, but there are very few editors of journals who get paid in any way — it’s all volunteer work, and there’s only so much time in a day. Be respectful of that volunteered time!
And if at first you don’t succeed, don’t be discouraged. Getting published often feels arduous, and even well-established poets get far more rejections than acceptances – really. In baseball, a batting average of .333 is considered impossibly excellent. In poetry, if even one out of ten of your submissions is accepted, you are basically Babe Ruth. In pop terms, we’re talking Beyoncé levels here.
Finally, if you look over the journals out there, and think to yourself, no one is publishing work like mine, and worse, no one is publishing anything I like!, then you might just consider starting your own magazine. It’s a rite of passage for many poets, and with the ability to host journals online, there’s not necessarily a big financial outlay. And if you’re not quite ready to start your own magazine, why not volunteer with one that already exists?
Three days left — it’s really a countdown now!
For the last two days, we’ve talked about giving and attending poetry readings. But these aren’t the only ways to find poetry in public spaces, or in a community setting. You could join or start a poetry book club, go to a bookstore that has a great poetry selection, find a community-based writing circle or workshop, or maybe just visit the home of a famous poet from the past. The website of the Academy of American Poets has a great Poetry Near You section, which lets you search by state for reading series, writing programs, conferences, landmarks, and magazines. You can take a poetry-based tour of your own community!
And if any of our readers have ideas for internationally based resources, we’d be very gratified if you’d share them in the comments. NaPoWriMo isn’t just for Americans — despite the “Na,” it’s for everyone!
We’re getting so close to April 1!
Yesterday, we featured some tips on how to read your poetry in public. But reading series don’t just need readers — they need listeners, too! So, during April, why not try to take in a poetry reading? Most towns have at least one poetry reading series, whether it’s an open-mike at a coffee shop or a more formal series with invited readers.
Poetry readings are a mixed bag, of course. If you started going to concert venues to listen to lots of live music, or patronizing galleries to see lots of art, you’d find some music and art you liked and some you didn’t. Similarly, if you start attending poetry readings, you’ll hear some stuff you like, some stuff you hate, and you’ll hear things you think you would like if only the poet were a better reader! But going to poetry readings will expose you to poetry you didn’t know existed, help you to develop your own taste, and give you the opportunity to meet other people interested in poetry.
And if you google around for local poetry series and don’t find anything, you might just consider starting a reading series yourself! (If you do, here’s an article that might give you a little insight into how to get started).
Five days to go, and NaPoWriMo will be here! As we count down to April 1st, let’s look beyond the process of getting the poem on the page to – gulp – reading them out loud. Like any form of public speaking, reading your poems to an audience can be very intimidating. But here are some tips and tricks for your next open-mike appearance, which should help you to give a good reading. And also – next time you’re at a poetry reading, watch the hands of the poets – you’ll find they’re often shaking! Even experienced poets still get nervous at readings, but they’ve learned over time to use that energy to make their readings better, and not let it stop them from getting up and speaking in the first place.
We’ve got just six days left until NaPoWriMo begins!
Today, as we count down to April 1, let’s explore some of the poetry resources available on Twitter. Yes, there is poetry on twitter! In fact, both poets and poetry journals have taken to twitter in spades, leading to lists like these: 38 Gifted Poets on Twitter and Twenty-Five Literary Magazines to Follow. Following your favorite journals on twitter is a particularly good way to keep on top of submission periods, new issues, and other news.
Of course, it’s not all straight-faced and straight-laced. Every profession, hobby, and lifestyle, from extreme snowboarding to competitive crochet to – yes – creative writing, has both its ups and downs, its foibles and follies as well as its merits and achievements. And where there are foibles, there is . . . the internet, and, in particular, there are parodic Twitter accounts. One that may give you a laugh – or possibly, have you cringing — is Guy in Your MFA. Why get a Master of Fine Arts degree when you can get the wisdom of an over-pretentious classmate for free?
If you have a Twitter account yourself, you might find some amusement in Poetweet, the website that turns your tweets into poetry. Really! Just enter your twitter handle and the website will build a rhyming poem from your old tweets.
And finally, you can follow us on Twitter, too — @napowrimo2015!
There are seven days to go until NaPoWriMo! As we count down to the big day, why not take a look at this intriguing article on a video game that teaches you to write poetry?
Or if you already know how to write poetry, but also like video games, you might consider this article on a serialized anthology of poems about video games. Or perhaps you’ll enjoy perusing the offerings at Cartridge Lit, an online journal devoted to literature, including poetry, about video games.
After all, Who’s to say that, were he alive today, Lord Byron wouldn’t be writing odes to Clash of Clans?
We have just one week to go until NaPoWriMo. I hope you are as excited as we are for the challenge of writing thirty poems in thirty days. To help keep that excitement going, we’ll have countdown posts each day over the next week until April 1 is here.
If you’re interested in including a NaPoWriMo button on your blog or or website, here are a couple to choose from:
A very happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone, as well as a very happy Two-Weeks-Until-NaPoWriMo. We’re busy drafting prompts and researching online poetry resources to share with all of you once April comes around. If you have ideas for prompts or resources, please let us know at napowrimonet-AT-gmail-DOT-com. We’ll credit you if we use your idea!
In the meantime, one sometimes-overlooked resource for poetic inspiration is . . . Twitter. In addition to thousands of people chatting about their everyday lives, you’ll find twitter accounts for Walt Whitman (where the entirety of Leaves of Grass is being tweeted, a line at a time), the British Romantic poets, and revolutionary Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. Perhaps a perusal of these poetic accounts will help you to get your poetry muscles primed for NaPoWriMo!