Daily Archives: April 3, 2018

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 3



Today, our featured participant is fresh poetry, where the “voice” poem for Day 2 has no “I,” but does have a “she,” a “me,” a “they,” and an “us”!

And now for a new interview. Peter Davis, whose fourth book, Band Names & Other Poems, has just been published by Bloof Books. Peter’ work is often humorous, frequently surreal, and sometimes takes you into darker, deeper places than you might think they would go. You can check out a few of his poems here, and read our interview here.

Today’s prompt is inspired by our interview with Peter Davis. As he indicates there, his latest book is rooted in endlessly writing ideas for band names. Today, we challenge you to try this out yourself by writing a list poem in which all the items are made-up names. If band names don’t inspire, how about a list of titles for romantic novels? Or new television cop dramas? They can be as over-the-top as you like, because that’s (at least) half the fun.

Happy writing!


I have to admit – for the 1st time ever I cheated!

I put bands into Google and it selected images of all our favourite bands, then the very next link was for a generator. It was fun. Here’s the link so you can use it too, just be aware that one day after NaPo is over I will use the lists I created to write some poems, so if you go Random do not accuse me of plagiarism in the future. Cheating is something I never do, with the exception of today (it is way past my bedtime) and I have NaPo pile up!


The site also produces Wordles, so I have posted those rather than a line.

I like the idea of the The Sausage Kittens and Sevendust which was another generated theme but I didn’t post it because it was my random selection.

I sat down to write my list poem and selected part of a generated list from the site, I filled in the fields at least. Then I just free wrote, editing the stanzas afterwards to form a list poem. It is nonsense but fun. I will probably perform it.

Here’s a snippet about a particularly dangerous pair of heels that have already appeared in poetry form once!

worn only once,

a doormat distance

from taxi

to club.

I did learn the collective nouns for a goats though, so fun and educational. The finished poem is 2 pages long, 166 words – 21 of which were generated band names, I think I can call it my poem.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 3

Day 3: Against the Grain

Today, I’d like you to write a poem that’s against something: it can be a logical argument, a passionate polemic, or an admission that you don’t actually like, say, The Wire, or the poems of Emily Dickinson. It can be anything you want — but the point is you must state your opposition to something. Have a think about what irritates you, gets your hackles up, or just plain bemuses you and get it down on paper. Your title should be ‘Against X’ where X represents your object of loathing, as in today’s example poem, ‘Against Naturism’ by Roddy Lumsden.


After all my writing today I think these will have to wait until tomorrow. I am attending a workshop tomorrow so hope that will reawaken Muse, who seems to still be on her Easter holidays!

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 2



Calm, cool & collected – exactly how you should be if you are several days late starting NaPo or behind already. Let’s breathe!

Day 2

Our featured participant today is this and other poems, where the poem for Day One evokes mystery, sadness, and danger.

Today we are presenting you with a new craft resource, an essay by Katie Rensch on the poetic “I” – you know, that mysterious self who sometimes speaks in your poems. Rensch discusses how the use of the first-person voice affects a poem, and how the poet can draw the reader in or push them away by the selection of a voice, and how even within the first-person voice, both the identity and complexity of voice can change.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Taking a cue from our craft resource, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that plays with voice. For example, you might try writing a stanza that recounts something in the first-person, followed by a stanza recounting the same incident in the second-person, followed by a stanza that treats the incident from a third-person point of view. Or you might try a poem in the form of a dialogue, which necessarily has two “I” speakers, addressing two “you”s. Another way to go is to take an existing poem of yours or someone else’s, and try rewriting it in a different voice. The point is just to play with who is speaking to who and how. 


I read the article with great interest as there are currently workshops about this very issue of overcoming the I or how to write the I of poetry. I started thinking about dialogues and prompts for conversation. I have written at least one overheard/imagined dialogue poem before. I took myself away from the screen and it was whilst I was doing something else that Muse struck me, glad to her back after my slog of writing for Day 1 Napo.

I wrote a deeply personal memory of visiting a relative in a home. It has undergone a few editing treatments and I plan to take it to an editing circle this weekend. It has legs as they say. I think it may become something, although it already is… it is the saddest Christmas poem I have ever written.

Just a line –

She is miles away from us now, North of the town of Whoville.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 2

Day 2: An Apology For a Poem 

Today’s task is to write an apology poem — one which either says sorry for something your speaker has done, or includes an apology in some other way.

There are plenty of good examples, most famously perhaps Robert Burns’ ‘To a Mouse’, but I’ve chosen the much-anthologised ‘Dear Bryan Wynter’ by W.S. Graham.


The process behind the poem created for this 2nd prompt could not be further from the first poem of Day 2. It was incredibly hard to cut ties with my first poem. Emotionally invested in the subject and having written something similar for a current poetry project I am working on – similar in as far as these poems share the theme of dementia, heavy poems. It is hard to snap from dark writing. I took a breather between these tasks.

I thought briefly about things I would/should apologise for. The resulting work is comical, humorous, tongue in cheek with a twist and is a poem that although I am vaguely accepting of, am unlikely to do much with it. Unless one day there is the perfect submission call for such a thing. I might extend my comical performance repertoire to 6 poems.

Just a line –

dance writing over tapping keys

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 1



Fresh from NaPoWriMo – http://www.napowrimo.net/here-we-go/

This year, as usual, we’ll be featuring a new participant each day. Today’s participant is Theobald Walrus, who, in addition to having a wonderful blog name, has a charmingly tricksy riddle poem, following our early-bird prompt!


This year, we’ll be featuring a mix of craft resources and interviews that we’ve conducted with poets who have new books out or forthcoming. Our first interview with with Lauren Russell, whose book, What’s Hanging on the Hush is just out from Ahsahta Press. Lauren’s work seamlessly blends pop culture, high culture, and personal accounts, leavened with flashes of dry wit. You can find a selection of poems from the book here, and you can read our mini-interview with her here. In the interview, you’ll find answers to questions on how Lauren got started writing poetry, the best (and worst) writing advice she’s received, and a generative, collaborative poetry exercise.

And last but not least, here is our (optional, as always) prompt for the day. It’s based off of Lauren Russell’s collaborative poetry exercise.

Today, we challenge you to write a poem that is based on a secret shame, or a secret pleasure. It could be eating too many cookies, or bad movies, or the time you told your sister she could totally brush her teeth with soap. It’s up to you.

Happy writing!

I have come across this exercise in workshops. So I wanted to give my brain a chance to settle and strike out the first confessional box ideas. I wanted this deeper, riskier. A sense of peril. I flushed all initial thoughts away and sat down with pen and paper (well my trusty notebook) to make a list of possible explorations.

It took a long while to form an incredibly short list, I chose something that ties into what has been on my mind lately and a theme I have considered for a sequence of poems.

It took a couple of attempts to find a way into the poem and I ended up using the 5,7,5 (Haiku*) pattern through 4 stanzas.

*There is abundant theory on Haiku and it is widely acknowledged that this pattern is not a genuine Haiku, despite this it is the form taught in schools.

I usually leave a line or two in each poetry post, because of the short form used today this is hard.

I will leave you with the beginning…

‘A hole in my plan’


Last year I started following prompts from The Poetry School and later in the year had the pleasure of meeting Ali Lewis at Free Verse, The Poetry Book Fair in London.


The Poetry School – Day 1


Day 1: Tell Me Something I Don’t Know. 

Today, I’d like you to write a poem that teaches the reader something. Whether it’s an obscure piece of trivia, a word in a new language, or an idea that will change the world, the only stipulation is that the reader should know more at the end than they did at the beginning.

Your example poem today – I always like to start with the master – is Michael Donaghy’s poem ‘Quorum’. 



I always read the example poem after I have written my Napo Poem. This one started with some brief research through ideas, a quick image search, followed by a search engine navigation of several webpages. Two ideas banked into word documents to work on later and dismissed as it wasn’t a truth I was teaching.

I am busy working on some commissioned poetry at the moment and decided that my teaching poem would link to that work. It may even strengthen or help evolve the pieces I am working on. My first avenue of thought got me deep into medical research that was too broad to fit to a prompt specific and my head began to panic. It was then that I decided to focus on the object of the commission rather than the subject. This concrete grounding helped me find the right way into the poem.

I then struggled to write anything of value. I know the whole point of NaPoWriMo is to get writing and keep writing, editing and quality control comes later. From the 99 poems I wrote last year (I followed 3x prompt programmes), 5 were good enough and some of those have since been published. However, there is badly written poetry and poetry which refuses to come out of the tube. This trail was leading to the latter.

So I started again, this time going with an obscure piece of trivia – as a starting point.

I instantly discovered January 4th is National Trivia Day (in the States) and found research more enjoyable. I have saved a list of obscure facts to use over time. But still felt uninspired.

Then I typed into Google and discovered the Doodle was John Harrison. I know if I had followed the prompt on the 1st April, it would have not been there. So this was a sign.

British clockmaker John Harrison (1693-1776), the man who built the first marine chronometer to measure longitude, was born 325 years ago today and is celebrated in the latest Google Doodle.

© The Independent

It may have taken the best part of a day but I have the scaffold of a poem about John and his Maritime miracle.

His Father admired grain in wood,

swirling waves of age.





NaPoWriMo 2018 – 3 Day Countdown



3 Day Countdown and more Craft Resources.


Mark Strand

Our craft resource for the day is an essay by the poet Mark Strand (scroll down to “from ‘Notes on the Craft of Poetry’”). Strand advocates for a bit of the mystical and the personal in poetry. While he doesn’t deny that there is a “way of doing” poetry, he believes that the way is unique to each poet, and must be discovered through practice.


2 Day Countdown



Jim Holt

another craft resource for your perusal. In his essay, Got Poetry?, Jim Holt discusses the practice of memorizing poetry. I memorized a lot of poetry as a child, and have found it wonderful not just for entertaining myself at bus stops (we didn’t always have iPhones), but because it creates a sort of mental index of the sounds of poetry — rhythms and beats and ways of expression that I can consult when writing without having to stop and go look something up.




1 Day to Go and a BONUS Earlybird Prompt

Our craft resource today is a short article featuring fifteen poets’ thoughts on revision. While our focus during Na/GloPoWriMo is on first drafts, revision is a big part of the poetic process, and one that everyone struggles with. Hopefully, this will give you food for thought and inspiration as you tackle editing your work.

Today’s prompt is one we’ve used before, but it gets great results, and who can argue with results? So today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in the form of a love letter . . . to an object.

Find out more about this prompt by visiting the site here. 



NaPoWriMo 2018 Here We Come! 


NaPoWriMo 2018 – Preparing for the Event


I am reading up on the posts that came before April. March was super busy with Laureate projects, workshops and interviews and I didn’t even consider dipping into the NaPo site before April.


This year they are adding interviews and craft resources this year and the first comes from a book I discovered back at University – part of course required reading and back that (long before the days of Amazon and home internet) I had to find a specialist shop in London and pay a huge amount of grant money to get my copy (which is one reason I still have it).

Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones Here’s an interview with Goldberg on the occasion of her book’s thirtieth anniversary, and appreciations of the book by Jennifer Ellis and Yvonne Spence.

Original source: http://www.napowrimo.net/napowrimo-glopowrimo-is-coming/

Craft resource: Richard Hugo’s The Triggering Town. Hugo’s essays on writing poetry have helped students and non-students alike figure out one of the hardest things about poetry – what do you write about, and how do you do it genuinely and authentically? The Poetry Society of America has the title essay of his book online. You can find it here

Original source: http://www.napowrimo.net/three-weeks-and-some-change-until-na-glopowrimo/

Halfway through March another Craft Resource was posted.

Mark Doty’s The Art of Description. The book consists of a series of close readings of the descriptive word choices in poems, and I found it extremely illuminating and helpful in re-orienting me away from some lazy habits I’d fallen into in writing. One of the essays from the book, a close reading of Elizabeth Bishop’s The Fish, is available online here. I hope you enjoy it!

Original source: http://www.napowrimo.net/the-ides-of-march-or-halfway-to-na-glopowrimo/

I read these articles, essays and poems as suggested. I will probably read them again.

Our craft resource for the week is an oldie-but-a-goodie, Wallace Stevens’s The Necessary Angel. I first picked up this book, with a garish purple cover enlivened by an incongruous blue Cupid, in the “overstock” section of a used bookstore. Stevens, who trained as a lawyer and as journalist, is known for his intellectual, persnickety, exacting poems. His essays are no different, but if you are game to seriously nerd out about poetry, you should give it a try!

Original source: http://www.napowrimo.net/closer-and-closer/


NaPoWriMo 2018 – It Begins (well it began)!


napofeature1Another year and after the pranks of April Fool’s Day (Mr G. asked me to fetch a bucket for the giant leak under our new boiler). At 8:37 AM on Easter Sunday I was only too aware of the date! That and the boiler was fitted just a few days ago. He was bitterly disappointed but asked me to take a look at least – as he had once again surpassed himself creatively.

After Easter my thoughts turned towards NaPoWriMo, (now quite rightly GlPoWriMo) which I have done most years since discovering it in 2014.

Except this year, I took a 4 day break over Easter including working on tech.


I start this year’s challenge already 3 days behind!

This morning I visited the official site http://www.napowrimo.net/ and registered us – as I do every year. In the past I have attempted daily posts or 3 day round ups throughout the month. This will be the first year I am working through the month also and have a rammed schedule of poetry life events for the next 3 weeks, so let’s see how it goes.


Due to copyright/publishing issues I rarely post poems, instead I choose a line and talk about the process or leave motivational tips for those of you also taking part this year.

I welcome comments on any posts but find NaPo conversation inspiring, so leave your thoughts when you visit and to those of you participating – Good Luck!