Daily Archives: April 5, 2018

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 5


A late post following a day in workshop. I did manage my NaPo Write afterwards.


Today, our featured participant is words in your eyes, where the abstract-to-concrete poem for Day 4 employs slant rhyme to create a haunting, rolling rhythm.

Our interview today is a two-for-one deal, with responses from both Samar Abdel Jaber and Nicole Callihan, co-authors of Translucence, soon to be out from Indolent Books. In Translucence, Abdel Jaber and Callihan document a dialogue between poets writing in different languages, exploring translation, connection, and photography, all at the same time. You can read an excerpt from the book here, and our interviews with the two authors here.

And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that, like the work in Translucence, reacts both to photography and to words in a language not your own. Begin with a photograph. Now find a poem in a language you don’t know (here’s a good place to look!) Ignore any accompanying English translation (maybe cover it up, or cut-and-paste the original into a new document). Now start translating the poem into English, with the idea that the poem is actually “about” your photograph. Use the look and feel of the words in the original to guide you along as you write, while trying to describe your photograph. It will be a bit of a balancing act, but hopefully it will lead to new and beautiful (and possibly very weird) places.

Happy writing!



I thoroughly enjoyed this prompt. I like to use images as starting points and also read translated poetry (although usually in English), I chose a poem in a language I do not speak. I am always amazed by language, how spoken and written form can make sense to ears and eyes without actually knowing the words.

At first I wrote a direct translation of the poem and then another version incorporating my chosen photograph.

This is not only an exercise I know I will repeat, I would like to explore the method further. It is a great way ‘in’ and does create exciting and unexpected results.

It is a wonder men come from Adam.



I couldn’t access The Poetry School prompt on my phone whilst I was out and about today. This one will have to wait in the wings. The workshop has zapped my word count /creative energy for the day and I want an early night as I am facilitating a workshop of my own tomorrow.

I do love a Talisman.

I always end up with a large reserve bank after NaPoWriMo, if I don’t manage it over the next few days (workshops and performances), this is being banked. Thanks to Ali Lewis at The Poetry School for this gem.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 5

Day 5: The Talisman

Today I’d like you to write a poem with a central, essential object – a thing, a talisman – around which all the action circles. I’m looking for the poetic equivalent of Rosebud in Citizen Kane, Hedda Gabler’s father’s pistols, McMurphy’s pack of erotic playing cards in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. We’re not looking for a poem about an object — no odes to telephones or hub caps – but a poem in which an object allows other things to happen, other stories to be told. It doesn’t have to appear all the time but it has to be important. It’s hard to explain, but easy to see. ‘Poplar Street’ by Chen Chen