Well, everyone, it’s finally here – the last day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020! I hope you’ve enjoyed the challenge. For my part, it’s wonderful to see so many poets use each April to generate new work, and I am always buoyed to see familiar names and faces returning, and by how kindly and cheerfully you support one another in your writing practice. I’ll be back tomorrow with a final featured participant and some housekeeping notes, but in the meantime . . .
Today’s featured participant is paeansunpluggedblog, where you will find a charming ode to a doggy companion.
Our poetry resource for the day is this PDF of A Handbook of Poetic Forms, edited by Ron Padgett. Here you’ll find explanations and examples of many different styles of poetry, as well as poetic elements like assonance, metaphor, and rhyme.
And last, but not least, our final (optional) prompt! In some past years, I’ve challenged you to write a poem of farewell for our thirtieth day, but this year, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something that returns. For, just as the swallows come back to Capistrano each year, NaPoWriMo and GloPoWriMo will ride again!
Happy penultimate day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo, everyone!
Our featured participant today is Minutes Past Midnight, where the “remembered bedroom” prompt for Day 28 led to a detailed yet not entirely comforting remembrance.
Our featured resource for the day is a two-fer: (1) these tips on how to memorize a poem, and (2) these tips on how to recite one out loud. It’s rather out of fashion right now, but I grew up memorizing lots of poems. Memorizing and reciting favorite poems is a very good way to internalize the rhythms and sounds of poetry (which helps in generating your own poems), but that’s not all memorizing and reciting can do. Memorized poems make good companions. Bored while doing dishes? Treat yourself to a dramatic recitation! Strangely, I find that I don’t get tired of reciting the poems that I’ve memorized – each time I do, I can play around with emphasizing different words, hasten or slow different lines, and consider the effect.
And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always). Today, I challenge you to write a paean to the stalwart hero of your household: your pet. Sing high your praises and tell the tale of Kitty McFluffleface’s ascension of Mt. Couch. Let us hear how your intrepid doggo bravely answers the call to adventure whenever the leash jingles.
If you don’t have a pet, perhaps you know one or remember one who deserves to be immortalized in verse. For inspiration, I direct you to a selection from an 18th-century poem by Christopher Smart, Jubilate Agno, in which the poet’s praise for his cat ranges from “For he is docile and can learn certain things” all the way up to “For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.” Personally, I’m lucky if my cat doesn’t just sleep the day away, but I find her pretty delightful all the same.
Happy Tuesday, everyone, and Happy 28th Day of Na/GloPoWriMo. Including today, there are just three days left in our annual challenge. Congratulations to everyone who has made it this far! And if you joined us late, or are still catching up – no worries. Remember, there’s no law against writing poetry in May, or any other time.
Our featured participant for the day is benkohns, where you will find a spot-on review of the various software programs we are supposed to use to work and learn during these days of social distancing.
Speaking of socially distancing, our poetry resource for the day this online archive of the manuscripts of the famously reclusive Emily Dickinson. Now one of the most-admired poets the United States has produced, Dickinson was little known in her lifetime. She left behind hundreds of poems, often drafted on scraps of paper, backs of envelopes, etc. And an especial point of interest is her amendments and edits. She often provided several different alternatives for given nouns or verbs in poems, as if she was continually revising or trying out new ones. When I am revising my own poems, and come across a dull or commonplace noun or verb that seems to drag down a line, I think of Dickinson, and try to come up with four or five alternatives, seeking a word that is a little bit wild, and will help to deepen the poem, or even turn it in a new direction.
Today’s (optional) prompt is brought to us by the Emily Dickinson Museum. First, read this brief reminiscence of Emily Dickinson, written by her niece. And now, here is the prompt that the museum suggests:
Martha Dickinson Bianchi’s description of her aunt’s cozy room, scented with hyacinths and a crackling stove, warmly recalls the setting decades later. Describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem. It could be your childhood room, your grandmother’s room, a college dormitory or another significant space from your life.
Welcome back, everyone, for the 27th day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020.
Today’s featured participant is Ordinary Average Thoughts, where Day 26’s “almanac” poem get entwined in the zeitgeist.
Our poetry resource for the day is a digital presentation of a rather strange book. Since the late 1930s, Harvard University has hosted The Morris Gray Lecture Series, featuring mainly poets, and simultaneously has collected the signatures of all the lecturers in a large ledger. You can explore a PDF of the ledger here. Who’d have thought that W.H. Auden’s signature would be so tight and small? Theodore Roethke signed on the wrong side of the page, and some unidentified persons seem to have snuck their signatures into the book over the years. A lyrical mystery!
And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in the form of a review. But not a review of a book or a movie of a restaurant. Instead, I challenge you to write a poetic review of something that isn’t normally reviewed. For example, your mother-in-law, the moon, or the year 2020 (I think many of us have some thoughts on that one!)
Happy final Sunday of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo, all. It’s hard to believe that we have just a few days left to go in April!
Our featured participant today is Barbara Turney Wieland, who stepped up admirably in response to Day 25’s Schuyler-based prompt, providing us with a wonderfully-textured anatomy of a hike in the country-side.
Today’s poetry resource is a series of videos being placed online by the organizers of the New Orleans Poetry Festival. While the festival was canceled this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, poets who planned to present and attend are creating video-poems in lieu of the in-person proceedings.
And now for our prompt (optional, as always). This is one that we’ve used before, but one test of a good prompt is that you can come back to it! For this prompt, you will need to fill out, in five minutes or less, the following “Almanac Questionnaire.” Then, use your responses as to basis for a poem.
Found on the Street:
Outside your window, you find:
Today’s news headline:
Scrap from a letter:
Animal from a myth:
Story read to children at night:
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find:
You walk to the border and hear:
What you fear:
Picture on your city’s postcard:
Hello, everyone! Happy Saturday, and welcome back for Day 25 of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Today’s featured participant is Anna Enbom, who brings us a sweet poem in response to Day 24’s fruit-based prompt.
Our poetry resource for the day is The Nuyorican Poets Café, where you can sign up for virtual open-mic readings each Monday and Thursday.
Because it’s a Saturday, I have an (optional) prompt for you that takes a little time to work through — although you can certainly take short-cuts through it, if you like! The prompt, which you can find in its entirety here, was developed by the poet and teacher Hoa Nguyen, asks you to use a long poem by James Schuyler as a guidepost for your poem. (You may remember James Schuyler from our poetry resource for Day 2.) This is a prompt that allows you to sink deeply into another poet’s work, as well as your own.
Hello, all, and thanks for joining us for the final Friday of NaPoWriMo and GloPoWriMo 2020!
Our featured participant for the day is GibberJabber, which brings us a many-lettered appreciation of the beverage that gets so many of us out of bed in the morning, in response to Day 23’s “look-of-the-letter”-based prompt.
Today’s poetry resource is the Poets House Digital Initiatives page, where you’ll find links to live-streamed poetry readings, online exhibitions of poetry broadsides and trading cards, and a daily, kids-themed poetry and story-reading series.
And last but not least, our daily (optional) prompt! Today’s prompt is a fairly simple one: to write about a particular fruit – your choice. But I’d like you to describe this fruit as closely as possible. Perhaps your poem could attempt to tell the reader some (or all!) of the following about your chosen fruit: What does it look like, how does it feel, how does it smell, what does it taste like, where did you find it, do you need to thump it to know if it’s ripe, how do you get into it (peeling, a knife, your teeth), do you need to spit out the seeds, should you bake it, can you make jam with it, do you have to fight the birds for it, when is it available, do you need a ladder to pick it, what is your favorite memory of eating it, if you threw it at someone’s head would it splatter them or knock them out, is it expensive . . . As you may have realized from this list, there’s honestly an awful lot you can write about a fruit!
Hello, everyone, and welcome back for Day Twenty-Three of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Today’s featured participant is Judy Dykstra-Brown, who offers rhyming, Swedish-inspired advice in response to our proverbs-and-phrases prompt for Day 22!
Our poetry resource for today is the YouTube channel of the Woodberry Poetry Room, offering more than a hundred video recordings of readings, talks, seminars, and conversations between poets.
Today’s prompt (optional, as always) asks you to write a poem about a particular letter of the alphabet, or perhaps, the letters that form a short word. Doesn’t “S” look sneaky and snakelike? And “W” clearly doesn’t know where it’s going! Think about the shape of the letter(s), and use that as the take-off point for your poem. Need an example? Here is my down-and-dirty translation of Eduardo Galeano’s “The letters of the word AMOR”:
The A has its legs open.
The M is a seesaw that comes and goes between heaven and hell.
The O is a closed circle, it will choke you.
The R is scandalously pregnant.
All of the letters of the word AMOR are dangerous.
Happy Wednesday, all!
Our featured participant today is Voyage des Mots, where the homophonic translation prompt for Day 21 resulted in some atypical motherly advice.
Today, our poetry resource is the South Asian Literary Recordings Project, where you will find audio files of readings given by prominent poets, playwrights, and novelists from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, in twenty-two different languages.
Our (optional) prompt for the day asks you to engage with different languages and cultures through the lens of proverbs and idiomatic phrases. Many different cultures have proverbs or phrases that have largely the same meaning, but are expressed in different ways. For example, in English we say “his bark is worse than his bite,” but the same idea in Spanish would be stated as “the lion isn’t as fierce as his painting.” Today, I’d like to challenge you to find an idiomatic phrase from a different language or culture, and use it as the jumping-off point for your poem. Here’s are a few lists to help get you started: One, two, three.
Welcome back, all, as we round out the third week of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020!
Our featured participant today is The Word Tinker, which delivers us a lovely ode to a finger-knit scarf in response to Day 20’s “handmade gift” prompt .
Today’s poetry resource is the archives of Poetry International, where you’ll find poems from all over the world, both in their original languages and in translation.
Today’s optional prompt asks you to make use of today’s resource. Find a poem in a language that you don’t know, and perform a “homophonic translation” on it. What does that mean? Well, it means to try to translate the poem simply based on how it sounds. You may not wind up with a credible poem at the end, but this can be a fun way to step outside of your own mind for a bit, and develop a poem that speaks in a distinctive voice. As an example, here are the first four lines of a poem by the Norwegian poet Gro Dahle:
Linnea ligger syk under treet
‒ Oj oj oj, hvisker treet
Og treet lar sine blader falle
Det store treet, det snille treet
Based on the sound alone, I might translate this as
Lithe lines sink under the street.
Oh, that wintry street.
Oh, street of signs like falling blades
A street of shops and smiles.
It’s not really a poem yet, but I certainly have created some odd and interesting images and ideas to play with.