Hello, all! Well, we knew it had to happen. April, like all months, is impermanent, and so to is Na/GloPoWriMo. But while today is the final day, that doesn’t mean your poetry has to stop! Perhaps you will be encouraged by your efforts this month to keep writing throughout the year. Or maybe you will turn May into your own personal Poetry Revision Month.
Our featured participant for the day is Summer Blues, where the meditative prompt for Day Twenty-Nine gave rise to not one, but two, wry and poignant poems.
Today’s video resource is this short film in which the artist Iris Colomb “translates” the minimalist poems of the Russian poet Eta Dahlia into gesture drawings. This is another great illustration of the way that poetry and other art forms can intersect and inspire one another. This video also shows that the rhythms and sounds of poetry can cross language boundaries, allowing a form of communication beyond the merely literal.
And last but not least, now for our final (but still optional) prompt for this year! Taking a leaf from our video resource, I’d like you to try your hand at a minimalist poem. What’s that? Well, a poem that is quite short, and that doesn’t really try to tell a story, but to quickly and simply capture an image or emotion. Haiku are probably the most familiar and traditional form of minimalist poetry, but there are plenty of very short poems out there that do not use the haiku form. There’s even an extreme style of minimalism in the form of one-word and other “highly compressed” poems. You don’t have to go that far, but you might think of your own poem for the day as a form of gesture drawing. Perhaps you might start from a concrete noun with a lot of sensory connotations, like “Butter” or “Sandpaper,” or “Raindrop” and
– quickly, lightly – go from there.
Hello, all, and welcome back for the penultimate day of Na/GloPoWriMo 2019. We’re almost there!
Today’s featured participant is Voyage des Mots, where the meta-poem for Day Twenty-Eight called forth a lovely ode on a teacher.
Today’s video resource is this short reflection by the poet Lucille Clifton on “Where Ideas Come From.” This video really speaks to me because I have often found myself feeling short of ideas, or that the ideas that I have aren’t “good enough” to become a poem. One of the goals of Na/GloPoWriMo is to help poets push past all these inner voices and editors, and just get words on the page, without worrying too much about whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent. When you stop trying to assign a value to things that haven’t even been written yet, you find ideas everywhere! And I am continually surprised by how many “silly” or “little” ideas generate good poems.
And now for our penultimate (optional) prompt! The poet William Wordsworth once said that “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” For Wordsworth, a poem was the calm after the storm – an opportunity to remember and summon up emotion, but at a time and place that allowed the poet to calmly review, direct and control those feelings. A somewhat similar concept is expressed through the tradition of philosophically-inclined poems explicitly labeled as “meditations,” – like Robert Hass’s “Meditation at Lagunitas,” the charming Frank O’Hara prose poem, “Meditations in an Emergency,” or Charles Baudelaire’s “Meditation.”
Today, I’d like to challenge you to blend these concepts into your own work, by producing a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquility, on an emotion you have felt powerfully. You might try including a dramatic, declarative statement, like Hass’s “All the new thinking is about loss,” or O’Hara’s “It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so.” Or, like, Baudelaire, you might try addressing your feeling directly, as if it were a person you could talk to. There are as many approaches to this as there are poets, and poems.
Welcome back, everyone! There are only three days left now in Na/GloPoWriMo 2019. I hope you’ve been enjoying the month so far, and are ready for the home stretch.
Our featured participant for the day is paeansunpluggedblog, where the Shakesepeare-inspired prompt for Day Twenty-Seven gave rise to a bard-inspired cento.
Our video resource today was suggested by longtime Na/GloPoWriMo participant Elizabeth Boquet, of Oaks to Acorns. She and a fellow group of poets in Lausanne, Switzerland, have been engaging with the concept of meta-poems – which are poems about poems! In this video, the poets Al Fireis, Lily Applebaum, Dave Poplar, and Camara Brown discuss Emily Dickinson’s “We learned the Whole of Love.” You can find additional background and video discussions of other meta-poems here.
And now for our daily (optional) prompt. As you may have guessed, today I’d like to challenge you to try your hand at a meta-poem of your own. If you’re having trouble coming up with a poem about poetry, and would like to take a look at a few examples, you might check out the Wallace Stevens and Harryette Mullens poems featured in the article about metapoetry linked above, or perhaps Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica” or Kendel Hippolyte’s “Advice to a Young Poet.”
Happy Saturday, everyone, and happy 27th day of Na/GloPoWriMo!
Our featured participant for the day is Put Out To Pasture, where the “repetition” poem for Day Twenty-Six leans in, hard.
Today’s video resource is this droll tutorial that promises to teach you poetry techniques in 30 minutes. It may seem a bit silly, but there’s a lot of technical detail packed into that half hour! If you’ve always had trouble distinguishing alliteration from assonance, or understanding how the heck to “scan” a poem for metrical stress, this may help clear things up. At they very least, it will make you smile.
And now for our (optional) prompt. Our video resource for the day promises to teach you everything you need to know to write a Shakespearean sonnet, but I’m not going to ask you to do that, exactly. Instead, I’d like to challenge you to “remix” a Shakespearean sonnet. Here’s all of Shakespeare’s sonnets. You can pick a line you like and use it as the genesis for a new poem. Or make a “word bank” out of a sonnet, and try to build a new poem using the same words (or mostly the same words) as are in the poem. Or you could try to write a new poem that expresses the same idea as one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, like “hey baby, this poem will make you immortal” (Sonnet XVIII) or “I’m really bad at saying I love you but maybe if I look at you adoringly, you’ll understand what I mean” (Sonnet XXIII). If you’re feeling both silly and ambitious, you might try writing an anagram-sonnet, like K. Silem Mohammad has done here.
Welcome back, all, for Day 26 of Na/GloPoWriMo 2019.
Today’s featured participant is Yesterday and Today, where the seasonal/sensual prompt for Day 25 resulted in a summery villanelle.
And now for our video resource! Today, we present this recording of the poet Jericho Brown reading his poem “Duplex (I Begin With Love).” Note how simple the vocabulary of the poem is, and how Brown uses the power of repetition, rewording and building on prior lines and phrases to drive the poem along.
Today’s (optional) prompt is centered around repetition. Repetition is at the heart of the rhetorical strategy of “Duplex.” We engage with it daily in the choruses of songs, and it’s long been recognized as one of the ways to keep a listener’s attention and create a sense of satisfaction or closure in spoken or written language, whether that language takes the form of a speech or a poem or even a comedy routine. Many forms of poetry expressly require or rely on repetition – for example, the villanelle or pantoum. Well-handled repetition can give a poem an incantatory effect. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that uses repetition. You can repeat a word, or phrase. You can even repeat an image, perhaps slightly changing or enlarging it from stanza to stanza, to alter its meaning. There are (perhaps paradoxically) infinite possibilities in repetition. Want to look at some examples? Perhaps you’ll find inspiration in Joanna Klink’s “Some Feel Rain” or John Pluecker’s “So Many.”
Happy final Thursday of Na/GloPoWriMo 2019, everyone!
Our featured participant for the day is Orangepeel, where the reference book poem for Day Twenty-Three is sure to put you in fits (emphasis totally intended).
Today’s featured video resource is this short film featuring a reading of Keats’ “To Autumn,” along with a sumptuously sensuous dessert. This video makes me hungry, and also, weirdly nostalgic for September!
And now for today’s prompt (optional, as always). Taking a cue from our video resource for the day, and from Keat’s poem, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that:
- Is specific to a season
- Uses imagery that relates to all five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell)
- Includes a rhetorical question, (like Keats’ “where are the songs of spring?”)
Hello, all! It’s hard to believe, but it’s the last week of Na/GloPoWriMo 2019. We hope you’ve been enjoying the challenge.
Today’s featured participant is Zouxzoux, where the animal-themed prompt for Day Twenty-Three resulted in a zippy haiku.
Our video resource for the day is this rather charming film by Marie Craven, based on Sarah Sloat’s poem “Dictionary Illustrations.”
Today’s (optional) prompt is to write a poem that, like “Dictionary Illustrations,” is inspired by a reference book. Locate a dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia, open it at random, and consider the two pages in front of you to be your inspirational playground for the day. Maybe a strange word will catch your eye, or perhaps the mishmash of information will provide you with the germ of a poem. For what it’s worth, my 1961 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 11, has just informed me that despite “his beauty,” the “profligacy” of the Emperor Heliogabalus’s life “was such as to shock even the Roman public,” while also presenting me with a lovely little line drawing of a variant of heliotrope, the flowers of which are said to smell like cherry pie.
Hello, everyone, and welcome back for Day 23 of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Our featured participant today is Brittany’s Blog of Random Things, where the ekphrastic prompt for Day 22 resulted in a poem that’s just a little bit fishy.
And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always)! Taking a cue from Bishop, I’d like to challenge you today to write a poem about an animal. If you’d like to take a look at some other poems for inspiration, you might like James Dickey’s “The Dusk of Horses,” or Tennyson’s “The Eagle.”
Happy Monday, everyone, and happy 22nd day of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Today’s featured participant is What Rhymes With Stanza?, where the surrealist prompt for Day 21 led to a strange tale in the key of C Sharp Major.
Our video resource for the day is this short film that features the poet and artist Kate Greenstreet reading an autobiographical piece, juxtaposed with images of Greenstreet at work on both her art and her poetry, which intermix with one another, as you’ll see.
And now for our daily (optional) prompt. As our film for the day shows, art and poetry can richly affect one another. Frank O’Hara’s poem, “Why I am Not a Painter,” speaks to this mutual engagement, as do explicitly ekphrastic poems (i.e., poems that are about a specific work of art), like Thom Gunn’s “In Santa Maria del Popolo.” Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that engages with another art form – it might be about a friend of yours who paints or sculpts, your high school struggles with learning to play the French horn, or a wonderful painting, film, or piece of music you’ve experienced – anything is in bounds here, so long as it uses the poem to express something about another form of art.
Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you are feeling good about all the work you’ve done this month as we close out the third week of Na/GloPoWriMo.
We have two featured participants for today, because I just couldn’t choose! First up is Wind Rush, where the spoken language prompt for Day Twenty resulted in an ode to a family vacation. Next up is Xanku, where the same prompt led to a familiar, yet ethereal, set of directions.
Today’s video resource is a full-length movie, called The Color of Pomegranates. It was made in Armenia in 1969, and is a lengthy, surrealist mediation on the life of Sayat Nova, an Armenian poet who lived in the 1700s. Frankly, I’d encourage you just to flip around in the video, as it has lots of extremely arresting imagery, the very oddness of which you may find inspiring. Like poems themselves, this film juxtaposes things that one might not usually find together. There’s a church full of sheep! There’s women wearing crowns of oak leaves and roses while children dressed as odd, one-winged angels run around! There’s a roof filled with books, the pages of which flap in the wind!
And now for our (optional) prompt, which takes its inspiration from another surrealist work, Federico Garcia Lorca’s poem “City that Does Not Sleep.” Lorca took much of his inspiration from Spanish folklore, but also wrote a group of harrowing poems based on time he spent in New York. (Lorca was not a fan of the Big Apple). “City That Does Not Sleep” is from that collection. Subtitled “Brooklyn Bridge Nocturne” in the original Spanish, it presents a kaleidoscopic, hallucinatory vision of the city as a wild countryside roamed by animals. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that, like The Color of Pomegranates and “City That Does Not Sleep,” incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.
Happy (and perhaps weird) writing!