Monday again (drats!) Well, at least we have poetry . . .
Our featured participant today is Catching Lines, where you will find an intriguingly fruity poem in response to our epistolary prompt for Day 11.
Today, our reading is a pre-recorded one, so you can enjoy it whenever you have time. It features Donald Hall, who besides being a wonderful poet, wrote the children’s book Ox-Cart Man, which has introduced generations of kids to flinty New England thriftiness.
Finally, our prompt (optional, as always). I’m calling this one “Past and Future.” This prompt challenges you to write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. A hat tip to Cathy Park Hong for a tweet that pointed me to the science fiction dictionary and to Hoa Nguyen for introducing me to the Classical Dictionary.
Welcome back, everyone, for Day Eleven of Na/GloPoWriMo!
Our featured participant for the day is Katie Staten, who wrote a poem in response to the “junk-drawer song” prompt that really does feel like a song.
Today’s featured poetry reading is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 12, at 7:15 p.m. eastern daylight time. Pulitzer prize-winner Yusef Komunyakaa will be reading online through Zoom as part of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, Massachussetts.
And now for our (optional) prompt. This is a twist on a prompt offered by Kay Gabriel during a meeting she facilitated at the Poetry Project last year. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a two-part poem, in the form of an exchange of letters. The first stanza (or part) should be in the form of a letter that you write either to yourself or to a famous fictional or historical person. The second part should be the letter you receive in response. These can be as short or long as you like, in the form of prose poems, or with line breaks – and of course, the subject matter of the letters is totally up to you.
Happy Saturday, all! As of today, we are one-third of the way through Na/GloPoWriMo 2021. Time flies when you’re writing poems!
Our featured participant today is Ordinary Average Thoughts, where you will find, in response to our “unusual to-do list” prompt, the to-do list of a remote control.
- First, find a song with which you are familiar – it could be a favorite song of yours, or one that just evokes memories of your past. Listen to the song and take notes as you do, without overthinking it or worrying about your notes making sense.
- Next, rifle through the objects in your junk drawer – or wherever you keep loose odds and ends that don’t have a place otherwise. (Mine contains picture-hanging wire, stamps, rubber bands, and two unfinished wooden spoons I started whittling four years ago after taking a spoon-making class). On a separate page from your song-notes page, write about the objects in the drawer, for as long as you care to.
- Now, bring your two pages of notes together and write a poem that weaves together your ideas and observations from both pages.
Hello, all! Welcome back for Day Nine of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Our featured participant today is Orangepeel, where you’ll find a very touching poem based on our Spoon River prompt.
Today’s reading is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 10, at 5 p.m. eastern daylight time. It will involve the poets Will Alexander and Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge reading for New York City’s Segue reading series.
Our (optional) prompt for the day is to write a poem in the form of a “to-do list.” The fun of this prompt is to make it the “to-do list” of an unusual person or character. For example, what’s on the Tooth Fairy’s to-do list? Or on the to-do list of Genghis Khan? Of a housefly? Your list can be a mix of extremely boring things and wild things. For example, maybe Santa Claus needs to order his elves to make 7 million animatronic Baby Yoda dolls, to have his hat dry-cleaned to get off all the soot it picked up last December, and to get his head electrician to change out the sparkplugs on Rudolph’s nose.
Hello, everyone, and happy eighth day of Na/GloPoWriMo!
Today, our featured participant is Uncle Phil’s Blog, where the Shadorma/Fib prompt for Day 7 led to a very funny shadorma indeed.
And last but not least, our (optional) prompt. I call this one “Return to Spoon River,” after Edgar Lee Masters’ eminently creepy 1915 book Spoon River Anthology. The book consists of well over 100 poetic monologues, each spoken by a person buried in the cemetery of the fictional town of Spoon River, Illinois.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to read a few of the poems from Spoon River Anthology, and then write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily – perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood, like the gentleman who ran the shoeshine stand, or one of your grandmother’s bingo buddies. As with Masters’ poems, the monologue doesn’t have to be a recounting of the person’s whole life, but could be a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy. Be as dramatic as you like – Masters’ certainly didn’t shy away from high emotion in writing his poems.
Hello, poets! Today marks the end of the first week of Na/GloPoWriMo 2021. I hope you are starting to get into the groove of writing a poem each day.
Our featured participant today infinebow, where the prompt for Day 6 led to a chatty-and-dreamy poem about salt and other things.
And now, for our (optional) prompt! There are many different poetic forms. Some have specific line counts, syllable counts, stresses, rhymes, or a mix-and-match of the above. Of the poetic forms that are based on syllable counts, probably the most well-known – to English speakers, at least – is the Japanese form called the haiku. But there are many other syllable-based forms. Today, I’d like to challenge you to pick from two of them – the shadorma, and the Fib.
The shadorma is a six-line, 26-syllable poem (or a stanza – you can write a poem that is made of multiple shadorma stanzas). The syllable count by line is 3/5/3/3/7/5. So, like the haiku, the lines are relatively short. Rather poetically, the origin of the shadorma is mysterious. I’ve seen multiple online sources call it Spanish – but “shadorma” isn’t a Spanish word (Spanish doesn’t have “sh” as a letter pairing), and neither is “xadorma,” or “jadorma,” which would approximate “shadorma” in sound. But even if this form is simply the brainchild of an internet trickster who gave it an imaginary backstory, that’s no reason why you shouldn’t try your hand at it. Every form was made up by someone, sometime.
Our second syllabic form is much more forthright about its recent origins. Like the shadorma, the Fib is a six-line form. But now, the syllable count is based off the Fibonacci sequence of 1/1/2/3/5/8. You can link multiple Fibs together into a multi-stanza poem, or even start going backwards after your first six lines, with syllable counts of 8/5/3/2/1/1. Perhaps you remember the Fibonacci sequence from math or science class – or even from nature walks. Lots of things in the natural world hew to the sequence – like pinecones and flower petals. And now your poems can, too.
Hello, everyone! Welcome back for Day Six of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Our featured participant for the day is woodyandjohnny, where the container-based prompt for Day 5 gave rise to a poem full of strange language and tonal shifts . . . which might not be surprising, given that it was based on a poem by the Serbian avant-garde poet Vasko Popa!
Finally, here’s our daily (optional) prompt. Our prompt yesterday asked you to take inspiration from another poem, and today’s continues in the same vein. This prompt, which comes from Holly Lyn Walrath, is pretty simple. As she explains it here:
Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.
I encourage you to read Walrath’s full post, which has some other ideas for generating new poems based on pre-existing text.
Happy fifth day of Na/GloPoWriMo, everyone. It’s Monday (ugh) but we still have poetry to look forward to!
Today, our featured participant is color me in cyanide and cherry . . ., where the liminal prompt for Day 4 led to a wonderfuly dreamy-spooky poem, and taught me a new word, too!
Our featured reading for the day is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 6, at 8 p.m. eastern daylight time. The poets Mairead Case, Kenyatta Rogers, Erika Hodges, and Israel Solis, Jr will all be reading as part of the Open Door Series, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation.
And now for our prompt (optional, as always). I call this one “The Shapes a Bright Container Can Contain,” after this poem by Theodore Roethke, which I adored in high school – and can still recite!
This prompt challenges you to find a poem, and then write a new poem that has the shape of the original, and in which every line starts with the first letter of the corresponding line in the original poem. If I used Roethke’s poem as my model, for example, the first line would start with “I,” the second line with “W,” and the third line with “A.” And I would try to make all my lines neither super-short nor overlong, but have about ten syllables. I would also have my poem take the form of four, seven-line stanzas. I have found this prompt particularly inspiring when I use a base poem that mixes long and short lines, or stanzas of different lengths. Any poem will do as a jumping-off point, but if you’re having trouble finding one, perhaps you might consider Mary Szybist’s “We Think We Do Not Have Medieval Eyes” or for something shorter, Natalie Shapero’s “Pennsylvania.”
Hello, everyone. I hope you’re feeling inspired to write on this fourth day of Na/GloPoWrimo.
Today’s featured participant is The Silver Cow Creamer, where the personal universal deck prompt brought about a poem that not just musicians can love.
And last but not least, our daily optional prompt. Poetry often takes us to strange places – to feelings and actions that are hard to express except through the medium of a poem. To the “liminal,” in other words – a place or sensation that exists at or on both sides of a boundary or threshold, neither one thing or the other, but something betwixt and between.
In honor of the always-becoming nature of poetry, I challenge you today to select a photograph from the perpetually disconcerting @SpaceLiminalBot, and write a poem inspired by one of these odd, in-transition spaces. Will you pick the empty mall food court? The vending machine near the back entrance to the high school gym? The swimming pool at what seems to be M.C. Escher’s alpine retreat? No matter what neglected or eerie space you choose, I hope its oddness tugs at the place in your mind and heart where poems are made.
Happy third day of Na/GloPoWriMo, all!
Our featured participant for the day is clayandbranches, where the “road not taken” prompt for Day 2 gave rise to a poem with a moon, a moose, and other arresting images.
Today’s featured reading is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 4, at 3 p.m. eastern daylight time, involving the poets Sandra Beasley and Teri Ellen Cross Davis reading from their new books, Made to Explode and A More Perfect Union.
And now for our prompt. This one is a bit involved, which is why I’m giving it to you on a Saturday. Today, I’d like to challenge you to make a “Personal Universal Deck,” and then to write a poem using it. The idea of the “Personal Universal Deck” originated with the poet and playwright Michael McClure, who gave the project of creating such decks to his students in a 1976 lecture at Naropa University. Basically, you will need 50 index cards or small pieces of paper, and on them, you will write 100 words (one on the front and one on the back of each card/paper) using the rules found here.
Don’t agonize over your word choices. Making the deck should be fun and revealing, as you generate words that sound “good” to you. The fact that the words are mainly divided among the five senses should be helpful in selecting words that you like the sound of, and that have some meaning personal to you. For example, my deck contains “harbor,” “wool,” “murmur,” “obsidian,” and “needle.”
Once you have your deck put together, shuffle it a few times. Now select a card or two, and use them as the basis for a new poem.