You are more than halfway there but you’re feeling the burn. This post is for you.
This weekend rather than gather the ever growing NaPo statistics, I thought I’d go for motivation.
Whether this is the first time you have attempted 30 poems in 30 days or if it’s old hat you reach a point where you want to down tools and run away. This is natural. Work through the burn and carry on. If that’s too much, distract yourself for a bit until you are ready to face another challenge. Skip a day or two if you have to. You may find time another day to tackle more than one prompt to catch up or decide to let them go. I have done all of the above since I started the challenge back in 2014.
Writing IS a challenging process and anyone who has attempted to write a novel (or even a novella) will tell you that motivation can be a challenge. As is complete loss of confidence. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Not everyone is a pianist – but walk up to a piano, hit a key and you made a note.
Whatever you do – know that it’s right for you and forgive yourself. If you want to forge ahead but you feel you’re flailing try these tips:
See the BIG picture
Are you writing a collection and hoping to create some extra poems through NaPoWriMo?
Are you just doing the challenge to have fun?
What do you need/want/hope to get out of it?
Perhaps you don’t have a big picture – create one now.
Divide and Conquer
If you following Maureen’s site the prompts always come with rich resources and poems. I always approach each day in chunks, I do it chronologically but sometimes mix it up.
Divide into three sections (Featured poem(s)/ Featured Journal/ Prompt)
Spend a chunk of time on each throughout the day.
Think about your BEST TIME
As writers some of us are more creative in the morning, others late at night. There will be days you are time poor and busy, be flexible, adjust. If this means writing on your phone or a post-it note, or recording an audio note – then do it.
Choose the best time of day for you to write.
Change it up when you can – you will be surprised how different free writing becomes.
Try writing in different environments. This could be inside your house or out in public.
Remember NaPoWriMo is not about being perfect, it isn’t about editing. You will create a bundle of poems which would not otherwise exist, you will know of more poets and journals by the end of April and you will have some material ready to edit as we head towards June!
You have managed over a week, over a quarter of the NaPoWriMo challenge. At this point you will fall somewhere between exhausted and rejuvenated. This weekend post should help you reach some balance because if you’re already attempting 30 poems in 30 days… YOU ARE AWESOME!
This week you’ve read at least 30 poems (or 31 if you did the Early Bird) and probably more, as who can visit a magazine and only read a couple of poems? Plus you would have read your own work back to yourself. So the actual number is probably way over 40!
40 poems in a week… for those of us who read collections that may not be unusual, but it’s certainly good practice to read widely and I can guarantee this week’s reading will have lodged sprinkles of muse inside your minds for later! By reading a few extra poems in the journals and including my own work I have read 56 poems.
Of course, you may have fallen behind and feel intimidated by these numbers. Don’t be. At the very least you started and who’s counting anyway! Just keep going. You will have read more than if you weren’t attempting NaPoWriMo at all!
You will have written at least 9 poems. If you’re taking part in Nina’s NaPo Challenge there will be 18 new poems in your stack.
In addition you may be using the PAD challenge or others – go careful if you’re working through multiple prompts, in previous years I have saved some lists for May/June… there was that year I wrote 99! But I wouldn’t recommend such pressure.
Whatever you do and however many poems you managed to write – KEEP IT FUN!
I have written 10, as I did the Early Bird prompt.
And of course the additional challenge for Ekphrastic poetry.
But NaPo is much more than a numbers game. You will feel all sorts of positive emotions from being part of NaPoWriMo 2022! You may have found community, new followers, a new poet or poem to love, an answer to a question, a joy for writing and/or a release.
Let us know how it has been for you in the comments and don’t forget to find some time to relax too!
Don’t worry – it has nothing to do with rock climbing!
Although intense generative writing practice feels like a workout. I have been participating in Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo since I discovered it (2014). The following year I discovered the PAD challenge – A Poem a Day over on Writer’s Digest and did both, generating over 60 poems in April.
Over the years many poets in the UK (and probably around the world) have offered their own course of prompts or groups for April. I have taken part in these too, memorably a series of prompts from Carrie Etter and a Napowrimo group during Lockdown with Caleb Parkin. The most poems I ever wrote from April’s Poetry Month was 99!
All this extra writing has been fun (if not a bit exhausting)…
This year I decided to add my own additional challenge into the mix: Nina’s NaPoWriMo Challenge! Feel free to spread the word.
I’m keeping it simple (and FREE):
Every day I will post a new picture prompt and you go away and create whatever you want.
Get yourselves ready for an extra splash in the fountain this April!
This is a collection of ultra-short Thumbnail Nature pieces from a February workshop ‘Nature Writing Through the Window’ which Amanda Tuke co led with Helen Jones, an inspirational disabled nature writer.
It was a great workshop and the last from this particular Arts Council funded project. It has been a pleasure to get to know Amanda and delve into thumbnail nature. I am delighted to have pieces in all the anthologies of workshops I was able to attend.
Angi Holden also attended the workshops and been published in the anthologies. It is always a great delight when you see friends sign up for the same events. An extra delight in February was spotting Elizabeth Uter in attendance. Liz and I met at the Poetry in Motion classes 2020/21 with CelenaDiana Bumpus, Liz still attends classes with Inlandia. Her poem is above mine, it’s so lovely to share the virtual page with her again.
Thanks again to Amanda Tuke for these incredible workshops and for giving my first thumbnails a home.
Amanda Tuke – workshop co-leader and Great North Wood nature-writer-in-residence in partnership with London Wildlife Trust. Once covering a large area of south London, today the Great North Wood consists of a series of small green spaces – all of which provide a home for nature within a modern urban landscape.The workshop was made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
The latest anthology of nature writing is live on the London Wildlife Trust website – with thanks to Amanda Tuke/ Goldcrest Projects.
A great collection of thumbnail nature from a workshop Amanda co-led on 18 December 2021 with Rebecca Gibson, wildlife writer and photographer. These workshops fill me with joy and are precious spaces of calm in this distressed world of ours.
Read It Wild – readings and conversations with nature writers
Join nature writers Amanda Tuke, Electra Rhodes, Vanessa Wright and Jane V Adams for an event to celebrate nature writing.
About this event
Sit back and relax while a range of new and established nature writers spin words for you which bring the wild inside. From a frantic spring and light-filled summer, to autumn scents and winter footprints, join us for a celebration of diverse nature writing. And you’ll hear what nature writing offers for published writers, with the opportunity to ask them questions.
This free event is made possible through National Lottery Funding via Arts Council England.
Join us for FREE Register for tickets here on Eventbrite.
Amanda Tuke is a nature writer, botanist and birder based in suburban south London and she is currently Great North Wood nature-writer-in-residence. She contributes regularly to Bird Watching Magazine , the London Wildlife Trust Blog and has written for BBC Countryfile and Resurgence & Ecologist Magazines. Amanda blogs about nature and her freelance nature-writing journey and loves leading nature-writing workshops.
El Rhodes is an archaeologist who lives in Wales and Wiltshire. Her prose and poetry has been widely published in a range of anthologies and journals, and she writes a regular column on rural issues for Spelt Magazine. Her book, ‘My Family & Other Folklore’, was recently longlisted for the Nan Shepherd Prize and is now out on submission. And her coastal South Wales set novella, ‘Sextet’, recently won the Louise Walters Books P.100 competition.
Vanessa Wright is a nature writer who lives in Hertfordshire and loves the Hebrides. She left corporate life last year to pursue her passion for wildlife and study for a Masters in Nature and Travel Writing at Bath Spa University. She has contributed to Bird Watching Magazine and The Pilgrim, written on behalf of the Hertfordshire & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and was recently longlisted for the Yeovil Literary Fiction Prize.
Jane V Adams is a naturalist, photographer and travel and nature writer based in Dorset. She has written for The Telegraph, BBC Countryfile and BBC Wildlife Magazines, and writes a regular nature column for The Blackmore Vale Magazine. Recently longlisted for the 2022 New Travel Writer of the Year Competition, Jane is currently writing a book about nature’s amazing moments, due for publication in 2023.
El Rhodes first reached my radar during Lockdown/ 2020 and I enjoyed her workshops and the writing that brought me. Last year, I was lucky enough to find some more nature writing workshops and as a result, met Amanda Tuke and started the joy that is writing Thumbnails.
I have successfully had both my workshop pieces published on the London Wildlife Website, thanks to Amanda. You can read them here, along with many others:
At the last workshop in 2021, Amanda told us about a planned reading and how we may be able to get involved. In 2022 we were invited to write some seasonal thumbnails, sketching a whole year of nature. After much research, drafting and editing I was excited to press SEND on my first submission of 2022 – and even more excited to hear my pieces had made it into the reading this weekend.
I am delighted to have my nature year included in this event and look forward to hearing the other pieces and the main readers.
We made it to 2022, in this exhausting world where everyday we’re grateful to be alive! I hope your start to 2022 has been a quality one.
Since my health issues at the end of 2018, I haven’t really been an active creative. During my treatment I couldn’t write at all. After 6 months I stopped needing morphine, I gradually worked on editing the book which was delayed due to my medical needs. The editing process takes months and by the end of that I had little energy to invest. At this time I was still on over 20 pills a day.
I struggled with myself, feelings of failing and frustrations of inability all through 2019. It took a further year after I was free from the stick walking and consultants to tackle this. By this point we were tackling the pandemic.
Many creatives suffered. I read an article which explained the area of the brain we use to process/ manage the emotional fallout of a pandemic is where the creativity comes from, so it was no surprise we all suddenly felt empty. I had been staring at my wall/garden in isolation for a year already so I didn’t have to tackle that feeling of having nothing to write about, but survival mode doesn’t lend itself to play and I lost any potential of artistic bliss.
I desperately needed to escape into words and place focus away from what was happening globally and at home. Thanks to many generous poets I was able to stay creatively buoyant throughout Lockdown, despite a gauntlet of life’s challenges. And I was finally able to write about my annus horribilis.
By 2021 my m/s was ready but I’ve sat on it for so long that it has become changed. Which was its destiny, but I know it needs to become a priority if it is ever to be completed.
That’s what I am working on as well as taking on almost full time real life work by way of compensating the devastation to the bottom line over the past three years! I am grateful to have work in these times and to be able to do it.
I was diagnosed with a chronic disease at the end of 2019 and another chronic condition in the summer of 2020, obviously the NHS was already in crisis before the pandemic, so people with other issues (1/5th of the population, I believe) are waiting for appointments connected to other conditions. The backlog is not something which can be worked through.
I was lucky to see the consultant for all allocated appointments last year. But news like this also takes some adjusting. So in addition to working offline on the manuscript, I am also giving myself time to focus on health and future.
I am involved in projects which take place over the next two weekends and WLFF (Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe) are planning the 2022 Festival.
I am still here and I am delighted that you are too. I wish you every success and happiness in 2022. Fingers crossed!
The difficulty with writing about a festival a month after you went (and have since filled the past 30 days with more glorious poetry) is things tend to get forgotten or blend as one. This is a sign of how stand-out many of the MASS PF events were. I only have to look at the title of the session and the event comes flooding back to me.
So, here for your pleasure is the 2nd part of my MASS Poetry Festival write up. After all, it won’t happen again for a couple of years.
Saturday 15th May
Ecopoetry: Words in Balance
As the rainforest burns and wildfires rage, as climate change threatens our world, poets can bear witness, reflecting on the intricate interconnectedness of humanity, our planet, and nature. We are nature. EcoPoetry offers us a lifeline to hidden worlds and reminds us of our shared reliance on nature. This session explores the role of the poet as activist, as chronicler of destruction, as truth teller. In this reading, poets Fred Marchant, Jennifer Barber, Deborah Leipziger and Myronn Hardy share their ecopoems and reflect on the power of EcoPoetry to transform and heal our world and ourselves.
Fred Marchant has authored five books of poetry, the most recent of which, Said Not Said, was named an Honored Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards. He has edited Another World Instead: The Early Poetry of William Stafford, and, co-translated (with Nguyen Ba Chung) works by several contemporary Vietnamese poets.
Deborah Leipziger is a poet, author, and advisor on sustainability. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press. Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on sustainability. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her poems have been published in literary magazines in four countries.
Jennifer Barber’s new collection, The Sliding Boat Our Bodies Made, is forthcoming from The Word Works in 2022. Her book Works on Paper was published by The Word Works in 2016, and her two previous collections, both from Kore Press, are Given Away, and Rigging the Wind.
Myronn Hardy is the author of five books of poems, most recently, Radioactive Starlings, published by Princeton University Press (2017). His poems have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Baffler, Rhino, and elsewhere.
This was a generous event, introductory poems by other great poets and some wonderfully powerful poetry. The poets shared context for their poems and sometimes process. I could have listened to all four of them for hours! An incredible Q&A after the readings too. Great interaction with the audience.
My two main USA hangouts since Lockdown 2020 have been The Walt Whitman Birthplace and the Emily Dickinson Museum. Both organisations have offered amazingly creative online content. Emily Dickinson was my first poet. One I have loved the work of all my life. I started learning about her life as a teenager and have never let go. I can’t believe it took a Lockdown to get me searching online for the Museum. I have certainly made up for it since!
Walt Whitman didn’t hit my radar until I came back to writing in 2013, but swiftly found his place in my heart and bookshelf. There is something incredibly magic about words that last the centuries and are still relevant today.
I had booked on the Annual poetry walk before MASS PF released the programme – but it is great that it fell during the festival and was part of it.
“Called Back”: A Virtual Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk
Days before her death in 1886, Emily Dickinson wrote her final letter, “Little Cousins, / Called Back. / Emily”. On May 15, the 135th anniversary of the poet’s death, join the Emily Dickinson Museum for an engaging virtual poetry reading and “walk” through Amherst, the town she called “paradise.” At each stop, we will see historical and contemporary images of sites of meaning for Dickinson including her garden and conservatory at the Homestead, The Evergreens — home to the poet’s brother and sister-in-law; the town common; Amherst College; and more. Not a lecture, this program infuses place with poetry. At each stop contemporary poets share their Dickinson-inspired poems and volunteers read Dickinson’s own words aloud. The final stop is Dickinson’s grave in West Cemetery where we will share reflections and a light-hearted virtual toast!
Elizabeth Bolton has a PhD in Literacy Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She writes articles, essays and poems about the connection between writing and mental health. She grew up in northern California and now lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario with her husband and two daughters.
Lori Desrosiers’ poetry books are The Philosopher’s Daughter, Sometimes I Hear the Clock Speak, and Keeping Planes in the Air, all from Salmon Poetry. Two chapbooks, Inner Sky and Typing with e.e. cummings, are from Glass Lyre Press. She edits Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry and Wordpeace.co, an online journal dedicated to social justice.
Hannah Baker Saltmarsh is the author of the poetry collection, Hysterical Water, published by The University of Georgia Press in March 2021. She has written a book of poetry criticism, entitled Male Poets and the Agon of the Mother: Contexts in Confessional and Post-confessional Poetry (Univ. of South Carolina P., 2019). She is the mother of three children, and lives with her husband in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she teaches and writes.
Kate Godin lives in Western Massachusetts, where she tends to the writing needs of a small liberal arts college, a tween and a teen, a vigorous anxiety. She is a graduate of Bates College and the New School for Social Research.
Bonnie Larson Staiger is a North Dakota Associate Poet Laureate, the recipient of the ‘Poetry of the Plains and Prairies Prize (NDSU Press, 2018) and the ‘Independent Press Award: Distinguished Favorite’ (2019) for her collection, Destiny Manifested. Her second book In Plains Sight, is forthcoming from NDSU Press in 2021.
Robin Long is a queer poet and writer from Austin. She is expanding her fiction thesis on Emily Dickinson. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, 2020 National Poetry Month Editor’s Pick, and a digital poetry performer with FEELS Zine.
Siri Palreddy is a first-year at Amherst College, hoping to study both English and Neuroscience. An avid reader, she first discovered Emily Dickinson in high school, and has loved her work ever since. Apart from poetry, Siri enjoys writing creative nonfiction and is compelled by stories that navigate one’s identity (or identities) and roots. When not reading or writing, you can find Siri spending her free time volunteering, laying in the sun, or rewatching her favorite comfort shows.
Peter Schmitt is the author of six books of poems. “Emily Dickinson and the Boston Red Sox” appears in his new collection, Goodbye, Apostrophe (Regal House). A graduate of Amherst and The Iowa Writers Workshop, he lives and teaches in his hometown of Miami, Florida.
Don Skoog is a freelance musician, writer, and teacher living in Oak Park, Illinois. He plays Classical percussion and Jazz drums, as well as Latin American, Arabic, and Persian instruments. He authors books and articles on exploring culture through music—the latest, in Arabic, for The University of Chicago’s Majala magazine—and has written four novels (not all of them published yet). The poem Amherst, is from Adventures in the RhythmVerse, his first chapbook.
Rebecca Starks is the author of the poetry collections Time Is Always Now, a finalist for the 2019 Able Muse Book Award, and Fetch, Muse (forthcoming from Able Muse Press), and is the recipient of Rattle’s 2018 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor. She lives in Richmond, Vermont.
Abigail Price is a 24 year old English poet, writer and Undergraduate student studying Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Policy at the University of Wolverhampton in England. Most of Abigail’s work is inspired by her past and significantly, nature which aided her recovery from mental illness in her early teenage years. Abigail is an avid writer & reader and her dream is to influence social change through British politics alongside writing beautiful poetry to leave people a little bit better, than when her poems found them.
This tradition has been ongoing for 37 years it was initiated by a group of Amherst based Dickinson enthusiasts and was adopted by the Emily Dickinson museum. And today it continues to draw new and returning devotees each year we’re so thrilled that you’re here with us.
A deeply celebratory event, one you can watch on the website link above. On the virtual poetry walk we visited six locations significant to the life of the have Emily Dickinson. Ten contemporary poets and volunteers read the poetry as we had the full text shown on screen, along with archive resources and photographs. Lots of historical information cleverly weaved through the event. It was beautiful.
It was one of those events which fully absorbs you! The laying of daisies towards the end was extremely emotional especially because of the pandemic and all those lives we have lost. A toast and choral reading at the end made us all feel connected across the world too.
After the event we were able to sign the virtual Guest Book.
A beautiful poetry walk to take with you all at teatime in the UK. Lovely choral reading to toast Emily and finish the event. Felt very connected, glad you could be part of the MASS Poetry Festival. Very excited to hear more about the restoration too. Carpets from England. …For what are Stars but Asterisks To point a human Life? (FR 1673)
A magical experience.
My final MASS PF event of the day was the Headline reading. I am a massive fan of Naomi Shihab Nye’s writing and always enjoy watching her readings. They have been a big part of my 2020+ Lockdown.
Headline Reading with Porsha Olayiwola, Tyehimba Jess, and Naomi Shihab Nye
Sponsored by The Grolier Poetry Book Shop
Black, futurist, poet, dyke, hip-hop feminist, womanist: Porsha is a native of Chicago who now resides in Boston. Olayiwola is a writer, performer, educator, and curator who uses afro-futurism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues in the Black, woman, and queer diasporas. She is an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the artistic director at MassLEAP, a literary youth organization. Olayiwola is an MFA Candidate at Emerson College. Porsha Olayiwola is the author of i shimmer sometimes, too forthcoming with Button Poetry, and is the current poet laureate for the city of Boston.
Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, Leadbelly and Olio. Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Leadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”
Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a 2004–2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000–2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He presented his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference and won a 2016 Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. He received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2018. Jess is a Professor of English at College of Staten Island.
Jess’ fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, as well as anthologies such as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, Beyond The Frontier: African American Poetry for the Twenty-First Century, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Power Lines: Ten Years of Poetry from Chicago’s Guild Complex, and Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, the Robert Creeley Prize, and “The Betty Prize” from Poets House, for service to poetry, and numerous honors for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. In 2011 Nye won the Golden Rose Award given by the New England Poetry Club, the oldest poetry reading series in the country. Her collection, 19 Varieties of Gazelle, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her work has been presented on National Public Radio on A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac. She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials including “The Language of Life with Bill Moyers” and also appeared on NOW with Bill Moyers. She has been affiliated with The Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin for 20 years and also poetry editor at The Texas Observer for 20 years. In 2019-2020 she was the editor for New York Times Magazine poems. She is Chancellor Emeritus for the Academy of American Poets, a laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Award for Children’s Literature, and in 2017 the American Library Association presented Naomi Shihab Nye with the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award. In 2018 the Texas Institute of Letters awarded her the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. She was named the 2019-2021 Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. In 2020 she was awarded the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Book Critics Circle. Nye is professor of Creative Writing – Poetry at Texas State University.
It was a great introduction (for me) to both Porsha Olayiwola’s work and Tyehimba Jess. Olayiwola’s reading focused on social poetry, historical commentary and current issues facing black women. It was a totally enthralling and powerful set. She is a woman who harnesses poetic courage and uses it well.
Tyehimba Jess was fantastic – I could have listened to him for hours. So many hard hitting, grabbing lines.
‘What I know good starts with a brick and ends with a book
and bleeds in between,’
Jess bridges Slam and Academic poetry, I could hear the Blues influence in the rhythm of is work, the feel of it.
And as for Naomi Shihab Nye – wow. Generous and endearing as always. Quietly getting her point across. Passionate and dedicated to the work of poetry. The way she can approach such difficult subjects with complete gentleness is beyond me. She started with sharing her reasons for admiring MA poetic history, the poets who have come from this part of the world and she read a poem by a young Californian poet she knows, Emily Ligron. The MASS PF as a whole seemed to be very proactive in promoting unsung voices and the work of other famous, important poets from the area.
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 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 started at the participant’s site and read the poem. I found the intentional surrealism difficult, following the context was hard on first read. I was interested to see if they had pulled from the theme of the original content as stimuli. We are not going to understand everything we read, nor like everything, poetry is subjective. In Writing Development wide reading is encouraged, be in contact with both poetry you are drawn towards to and that which is challenging or beyond your personal taste and read poems over and over. Revisit them.
I was interested to see the original and am unsure I have found it here as the lettering doesn’t match, this may be because the poet has a different translation, I have the wrong poem or the poet has amended/erased some lines / played with the constraints, all of which are fine. I checked another site and found the same translation. So my guess is the poet chose to amend/cut lines or the Charles Simic translation is different. I have always enjoyed poetry in translation, the bends in the language it produces.
As I read and re-read the poem the shape of it revealed itself. I picked up on the possibility this was a bi-lingual poet and also thought there may be a nod to the original in as far as Vasko Popa was a Serbian Avant Garde poet. Hallucinated Ambush certainly has some surreal qualities. Barbara may be a fan of French surrealism. The poem has a narrative and definitely created a scene in my mind. There may be some call to Eve and the Snake. Some of the lines were beautiful:
asps curled in bracken shade
thoughts fragment half-cut jewels
dust binds dubious truthes
another ache a splinter borrowed
I did a bit of a tour of the website intrigued by my earlier realisation that I mistook the site name as part of the title (I hadn’t slept much, I even copied Day 5 NaPo not 6 this morning) and searched not for Race but for Woody & Johnny took Race by Vasko Popa, which worked for me as a title. Many bloggers do not reveal identity or use an alias, when I started blogging I was the same, I linked wordpress to the non-named account and kept identity concealed then after a while I realised people searched for me and this place wasn’t linked to those searches and at some point (probably in the promotion of poems, used my own name). Part of me is detective, (Mrs Marbles, is one of many of Mr. G’s nicknames for me – see what I mean about concealed identity…) anyway, it was easy to discover this site belonged to Barbara Turney Weiland (Home button profile & comments < in case you want to be detective too).
I discovered a second blog barbara turney wieland poetess, I am considering this my first NaPo rabbit hole (even let my coffee go cold)! I explored the second site and discovered Barbara is an artist who had, at the time of posting, been writing poetry for 5 years, I read her published work and thoroughly enjoyed these two poems published in Shadow Kraft – a Bilingual Literary Webzine.
UPDATE Day 20
I have to consider closing the Detective Agency or rebrand as a Tech Editing Co. instead. Johnny got in touch (the same day) to explain the process and it is wondrous what Woody and Johnny have achieved.
So just to clear it up I will leave this note here for you to read as I go and hang up the Trilby and shades (YES! Miss Marbles had retro style).
All we took for our prompt on Day 5 was the first letter of each line and noted the shape of the poem. The poem was written by Woody & Johnny before the translation by Simic was read.
Really appreciate your thoughts on our tandem writing though! Thank you. Johnny (of Woody & Johnny).
I watched today’s reading. I spent some time online at Emory University this year at events. They have had some amazing poets read… just listen to the introduction. I have also read some poems by Nikki Giovanni since Lockdown. I have discovered lots of incredible American Poets in this Pandemic year.
Acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni Feb. 22, 2020, at the Schwartz Center on the Emory University campus.
Giovanni is known for her activism poetry, especially concerning race, gender, self-pride, and love. Giovanni has been an English professor at Virginia Tech since 1989 and has been a university distinguished professor there since 1999. She has received an honorary doctorate from more than 27 colleges and universities. The event was hosted by the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library as part of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading Series, now in its 15th season. The reading was sponsored by the Hightower Fund, with support from Emory Library and Information Technology Services (LITS), and the Creative Writing Program at Emory.
This video is very much an address, if you want to hear more poetry, listen to this too. It is not a perfectly clear recording, but the vinyl crackle is authentic and won’t worry some of us from the pre-digital age.
The prompt is one I have tried before. Like yesterday’s prompt it give rise to poems which are different to your natural voice. Which is always fun. I was excited for the results of today’s write.
“The truth is, it’s a common practice in poetry to draw off of other’s work. Using other people’s work in this way is a time-honored tradition. It’s been debated recently but it’s obvious that as far back as Christopher Marlowe, writers have been referencing each other.“
Holly also mentions a Jericho Brown workshop (which I was lucky enough to attend) and the mirror prompt is definitely worth a try – if you fancy writing more than one poem today! There’s always the Golden Shovel a form devised by Terrance Hayes in response to a Gwendolyn Brooks poem. So you actually get two extra prompts from this page. Worth adding I discovered the poetry of Jericho Brown through NaPoWriMo a couple of years ago. Count how many new favourite poets you have at the end of these 30 days. Treasure.
I have come across Holly Lyn Walrath and her medium.com site before today, worth a read. In having a read-about today I fell into my 2nd Napo rabbit hole! I read many, many articles following links all around the internet. The funny thing was a website I found last year entered my mind and I found it this morning through one of these adventure links!
Eventually I went off to find my line and start my poem. I took a line from the first book I plucked off my shelf and settled down to free-write, the poem came out quickly.
I feel like no extract from Shush will give you a feel for the lamentation I have written today. I played with white space and changed some of the word order. Trying to format even a few lines to WP platform is a challenge. Definitely needs a screen shot! I let the poem free write itself out and as NaPo is not about editing just placed it/ pegged it to the page. But it is marked as *one to go back to in the summer. So one day you may see it in full.