Happy Monday, all, and welcome back for the eleventh day of Na/GloPoWriMo.
Our featured participant today is Amita Paul, whose shanty in response to Day Ten’s prompt is as rollicking as the sea itself.
Today, our daily resource is Chill Subs. Since it was first created couple of years back as an easy way to find journals and magazines accepting submissions of poetry and other writing, the site has grown to include software for tracking your submissions, a blog with fun posts about writing, and much more. It’s free to join, and I know I’ve found it very helpful in seeking publication opportunities.
And finally, our (optional) prompt for the day. This prompt challenges you to play around with the idea of overheard language. First, take a look at Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “One Boy Told Me.” It’s delightfully quirky, and reads as a list, more or less, of things that she’s heard the boy of the title – her son, perhaps? – say. Now, write a poem that takes as its starting point something overheard that made you laugh, or something someone told you once that struck you as funny. If you can’t think of anything, here’s a few one-liners I picked out of the ever-fascinating-slash-horrifying archives of Overheard in New York.
• So I asked my priest, and he said “I think you should see other people.”
• Don’t say “no” to drugs. Say “no, thank you.”
• You smell like you want to be alone.
• Oh hi! We were just speaking very poorly about you!
• I feel so elated! Wait…no, I mean, “violated.”
Wow, everybody! As of today, we’re one third of the way through Na/GloPoWriMo.
Today’s featured participant is Michael Jarmer, who brings us a meditative (see what I did there?) sonnet in response to Day 9’s prompt.
Our poetry resource for the day is Poem Talk, a monthly podcast hosted by Al Fireis, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Kelly Writers House. Each episode features a roundtable discussion of a single poem.
Today’s daily prompt (optional, as always) again comes from our archives. I’m playing to my own strengths here, but I challenge you to write a sea shanty (or shantey, or chanty, or chantey — there’s a good deal of disagreement regarding the spelling!) Anyway, these are poems in the forms of songs, strongly rhymed and rhythmic, that sailors might sing while hauling on ropes and performing other sea-going labors. Probably the two most famous sea shanties (at least before TikTok gave us The Wellerman) are What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor? and Blow the Man Down. And what should your poem be about? Well, I suppose it could be about anything, although some nautical phrases tossed into the chorus would be good for keeping the sea in your shanty. Haul away, boys, haul away!
Welcome back for the ninth day of Na/GloPoWriMo, fellow poets!
Our daily participant is To Create . . . where Day Eight’s “twenty projects” prompt resulted in a breathtakingly claustrophobic family memory. But I also want to give a shout-out to all of you who stuck with the prompt! I know that it was a lot.
Today’s poetry resource is UbuWeb, a vast repository of the avant-garde. You could get lost for days among the films, audio recordings, PDFs of small press publications, and other oddities here. If you’re looking to have the top of your head screwed off (figuratively), check out the “365 Days Project.”
Finally, here’s our prompt for the day (as always, optional). We’re calling today Sonnet Sunday, as we’re challenging you to write in what is probably the most robust poetic form in English. A traditional sonnet is 14 lines long, with each line having ten syllables that are in iambic pentameter (where an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable). While love is a very common theme in sonnets, they’re also known for having a kind of argumentative logic, in which a problem is posed in the first eight lines or so, discussed or argued about in the next four, and then resolved in the last two lines. A very traditional sonnet will rhyme, though there are a variety of different rhyme schemes.
Today, sonnets are probably most commonly associated with Shakespeare (who wrote more than 150, and felt very little compunction about messing around with the form, at least to the extent of regularly saying “who cares” to strict iambs). But poets’ attention to the form hasn’t waned in the 400 years or so since the Bard walked the fields around Stratford-upon-Avon and tramped the stage-boards of Merrie Old England. Take a look at this little selection of contemporary sonnets by Dennis Johnson, Alice Notley, Robert Hass, and Jill Alexander Essbaum. You’ll notice that while all of these poems play in some way on the theme of love, they are tonally extremely different – as is the kind or quality of love that they discuss. Some rhyme, some don’t. They mostly stick to around 14 lines but They’re also not at all shy about incorporating contemporary references (the Rolling Stones, telephones, etc).
Today, we’d like to challenge you to write your own sonnet. Incorporate tradition as much or as little as you like – while keeping in general to the theme of “love.”
Happy second Saturday of Na/GloPoWriMo, everyone.
Our featured participant for the day is Poems by Sidra, where the list poem for Day Seven has a very end-of-the-workweek kind of vibe.
Today’s resource is “Public Access Poetry,” an online feature from the Poetry Project, presenting digitized audio files of a poetry-themed public-access TV show that aired in New York City in 1977 and 1978. Listen to stalwarts and shining lights of the late-70s NYC “scene” such as Bernadette Mayer, Ron Padgett, Eileen Myles, and more!
And now for our daily (optional) prompt. This is another oldie-but-goodie. I remember being assigned to use it in a college poetry class, and loving the result. It really pushes you to use specific details, and to work on “conducting” the poem as it grows, instead of trying to force the poem to be one thing or another in particular. The prompt is called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. And here are the twenty little projects themselves — the challenge is to use them all in one poem:
1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.
Wow, it’s hard to believe, but we’re already one week into Na/GloPoWriMo. Here’s to another three weeks and change!
Today’s featured participant is Lucky Cat Comics, where the homophonic translation that came out of Day Six’s prompt is short, sweet, and artistic.
Our resource for the day is the Poem of the Day. Like Verse Daily, this feature presented by the Poetry Foundation brings you a new poem every day. You can even sign up to have it emailed you, so you don’t need to check the website.
Last, but not least, here’s our daily prompt (optional, as always). Start by reading James Tate’s poem “The List of Famous Hats.” Now, write a poem that plays with the idea of a list. Tate’s poem is a list that isn’t – he never gets beyond the first entry. You could try to write a such a non-list, but a couple of other ideas would be to create a list of ingredients, or a list of entries in an index. A self-portrait (or a portrait of someone close to you) in the form of a such a list could be very funny. Another way into this prompt might be a list of instructions.
Welcome back, fellow poets, for another frabjous day of poetry!
Today, our featured participant is LYNDYH, where Day Five’s laughter prompt gave rise to a very moving meditation.
Our daily resource is Poetry International, a wonderful source of contemporary poems in many different languages. Besides hosting so many poems online, Poetry International also puts on an annual poetry festival. This year’s will take place in Rotterdam in June.
Today’s (optional) prompt is again drawn from our archives, and builds off our daily resource. Take a look around Poetry International for a poem in a language you don’t know. For example, I grabbed this one in Finnish by Olli Heikkonen. Now, read the poem to yourself, thinking about the sound and shape of the words, and the degree to which they remind you of words in your own language. Use those correspondences as the basis for a new poem.
Happy Wednesday, all, and happy fifth day of Na/GloPoWriMo. We hope you’ve started to settle into the rhythm of writing a poem every day!
It was difficult to choose just one featured daily participant for the day, given how wonderfully you all rose to the triolet challenge! I’m pretty bad at triolets myself, but you all give me hope. Anyway, what with the difficulty of choosing one participant…I didn’t. So we have two today! First up is Words With Ruth, where the triolet prompt for Day 4 resulted in “precipitous” words (if you’ll excuse the pun), and second (but only because any two things have to appear in some kind of order), An Inveterate Indoorswoman, who offers us a poignant elegy in triolet form.
Today, our featured resource is Verse Daily, where you will find – you guessed it – a new poem every day. You can also check out more than twenty years of archived poems – a rich collection indeed.
Finally, here’s our (optional) prompt for the day. Begin by reading Charles Simic’s poem “The Melon.” It would be easy to call the poem dark, but as they say, if you didn’t have darkness, you wouldn’t know what light is. Or vice versa. The poem illuminates the juxtaposition between grief and joy, sorrow and reprieve. For today’s challenge, write a poem in which laughter comes at what might otherwise seem an inappropriate moment – or one that the poem invites the reader to think of as inappropriate.
Welcome back, everyone, for Day Four of Na/GloPoWriMo!
Our featured participant today is The Scribbletorium, which used our “opposite” prompt for Day 3 to turn a mysterious Borges poem into its equally mysterious mirror-image — an act that, come to think of it, is something Borges himself likely would have approved of!
Today’s poetry resource is this collection of poetry video recordings from the Dodge Poetry Program. If you’re not familiar with the Program, every two years it sponsors a four-day poetry festival in New Jersey, bringing together poets and students from across the United States and internationally.
And now here’s another prompt drawn from our archives – and, as usual, optional! Today, let’s try writing triolets. A triolet is an eight-line poem. All the lines are in iambic tetramenter (for a total of eight syllables per line), and the first, fourth, and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines. This means that the poem begins and ends with the same couplet. Beyond this, there is a tight rhyme scheme (helped along by the repetition of lines) — ABaAabAB.
Here’s an example by Thomas Hardy:
Birds at Winter
Around the house the flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone
From holly and cotoneaster
Around the house. The flakes fly! – faster
Shutting indoors the crumb-outcaster
We used to see upon the lawn
Around the house. The flakes fly faster
And all the berries now are gone!
Triolets were in vogue among the Victorians — all those repetitions can add a sort of melancholy gravitas to a poem, but watch out! They can also make the poem sound oddly gong-like. A playful, satirical poem, on the other hand, can be easily written in the triolet form, especially if you can find a way to make the non-repeating lines slightly change the meaning of the repeated ones. Here’s an example of a modern, humorous triolet, by Wendy Cope:
My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.
Whatever you’ve got lined up,
My heart has made its mind up
And if you can’t be signed up
This year, next year will do.
My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.
Happy third day (and first Monday) of Na/GloPoWriMo, everyone. We hope that starting the work-week with poems makes it a little better than usual.
Today, our featured participant is Window Drafts, where the response to the surrealist prompt for Day 2 takes us to Mobile and beyond
Our resource for the day is this archive of recordings of poets reading at the U.S. Library of Congress. Most of the recordings are from the 1990s and early 2000s, but one nice thing about poetry is that it doesn’t go stale. The recordings also span a huge number of genres, from cowboy poetry to “surly” holiday poems. Poets from Lucille Clifton to Russell Edson are represented – there’s a lot of explore!
Last but not least, here’s our prompt for the day (optional, as always). Find a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite. For example, you might turn “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” to “I won’t contrast you with a winter’s night.” Your first draft of this kind of “opposite” poem will likely need a little polishing, but this is a fun way to respond to a poem you like, while also learning how that poem’s rhetorical strategies really work. (It’s sort of like taking a radio apart and putting it back together, but for poetry).
Welcome back, all, for the second day of Na/GloPoWriMo. We hope the first day has only increased your appetite for poems.
Today’s featured participant is What Rhymes with Stanza?, where the book-cover poem for Day 1 takes us through all of recorded history and into the future, through the lens of the moon.
Our poetry resource for the day is Jacket2. This online magazine features a wealth of podcasts, reviews, interviews, essays, and other uncategorizable writings about contemporary poetry.
And now for today’s (optional) prompt! The Romanian-born poet Paul Celan once wrote a series of surrealist questions and answers. Here are a couple of examples:
What is forgetting?
An unripe apple stabbed by a spear.
What is a tear?
A scale awaiting a weight.
Today’s prompt asks you to begin by picking 5-10 words from the following list. Next, write out a question for each word that you’ve selected (e.g., what is seaweed?)
Now for each question, write a one-line answer. Try to make the answer an image, and don’t worry about strict logic. These are surrealist answers, after all!
After you’ve written out your series of questions and answers, place all the answers, without the questions, on a new page. See if you can make a poem of just the answers. You may find that what you have is very beautifully mysterious, and somehow has its own logic.
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