I have been overjoyed to play a part in The Well/ Mindful Poetry events over the past few years, (since Lockdown 2020/21). For the 2nd year running I am delighted to have poetry included in the anthology.
The Book Launch happens today at The Mercantile Library, which is incredibly beautiful and in Cincinnati… however, if you are not you can still watch the event on Crowdcast, to register: book tickets for the Live Launch or reserve your spot virtually check here.
I am really looking forward to spending some of my Birthday celebrating with these poets and can’t wait to hear everyone’s words.
Hope you can join us!
Book cover artwork courtesy of @alexandraramirezarts Mindful Poetry Moments was incubated with @onbeing and virtual gatherings are supported by @cincyhive @wordplaycincy and @themercantilelib #TheWellWorld #TheWell #MindfulPoetryMoments #MindfulPoetry #Poetry #PoetryCollection #OnBeing #PoetryUnbound #Poems #Poets #Poet
I was lucky enough to complete the manuscript (my first collection) last year. I then sat on it for a while before returning for final edits in Spring 2022. It is now finding a home with a publisher. So it brings me great joy to announce Cafe Writers chose to feature my poem In the Breast Unit as the poem of the month.
It can be hard to find places where writing poems about our bodies is an acceptable read. I am grateful to the team for picking this poem.
Proud to be sharing the space with so many wonderful Poem of the Month Picks.
Sometimes at this stage people are either sad to see the end of the challenge or more than happy to see it finish. This year I am caught somewhere between the two… I am delighted the challenge fell during time off work, but I have a lot of things going on at the moment and turning up everyday has been difficult, but when I weigh that against all I have learnt, read and the fun along the way, it is (as always) worth it.
Looking back at the stack I think I have a couple of gems I can work with. I acknowledge there are poems in the making which wouldn’t otherwise exist.
Doing the picture prompts has been time consuming, but heart-warming to see them shared on Twitter. I hope you have all reached a point of reflection where there is hope and happiness in your decisions. I am sure we have all managed something or got pleasure from the resources Maureen Thorson has shared with us along the way.
Think of all the poems you’ve read!
It has been a pleasure! And the best… It’s not over yet – there’s another week to go!
And for anyone struggling here are some tips.
St. George’s Day
The link at the bottom for the full post will take you to my Worcestershire Poet Laureate website.
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!
… a special early-bird prompt, based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson.
Dickinson is known for her elliptical style, unusual word choices, and mordant sense of humor. Over the past year, I’ve experimented with writing poems based on, or responding to, various lines from her poems. Today, I’d like to challenge you to do the same! Here are a few lines of Dickinson’s that might appeal to you (the slashes indicate line breaks):
“Forever might be short”
“The absence of the Witch does not / Invalidate the spell”
“If to be ‘Elder’ – mean most pain – / I’m old enough, today”
“The second half of joy / Is shorter than the first”
“To be a Flower, is profound / Responsibility –
Dickinson is one of my personal favourites, last year I was gifted several amazing books of her verse and spent a lot of Lockdown with the Emily Dickinson Museum. I am looking forward to carving out a little time to try this prompt.
In the end I settled on this poem from 1861:
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
’Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
Choosing just one line to start from was my next challenge!
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
From here I jumped into a word document, I know that longhand freewriting would give different results, I went back to the practice of notebooks at the start of Lockdown 2020. But I have also found from keeping Napo journals in the past, I am more likely to treat, polish and edit a poem which already exists digitally.
I used to be like Emily and write on the back of envelopes, beermats, napkins, receipts – whatever was available, I have a small collection of teenage angsty scribbles in a box somewhere – but those non-cataloguing days are over!
One small downside was I had marked a community workshop (US) in my diary at 10pm and was so lost in the wonderful world of light and faith that I missed the first 30 mins and couldn’t get in! The irony of missing a workshop where I could have penned 3 or 4 beginnings to only one poem is not lost. However, think this was the universe intervening – there is a lot going on in my world right now and after another almost full week of work, I am mentally (and physically) exhausted!
I wrote a very personal poem which has a need for each line so quoting one line won’t really translate.
I kept the stanza short – tercets (as a nod to Emily), and continued to write it until it reached a natural end. It is longer than I expect it will be. I edit from May – so now it is ready to rest in the NaPo 2022 file.
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!
The idea behind this post came from my inbox, from an email from Writer’s Digest. I read an article from 2011 by BRIAN A. KLEMS on editing. Check out his version of the Lesser Known Editing Symbols and put some fun back into editing!
Many of us enjoy the editorial process, you don’t have to be a writer for very long before you realise editing needs a whole different headspace to the writer brain!
As I fell through the rabbit hole of articles on editing, I realised it has been a while since I posted a technical post to AWF, so mostly with thanks to Writer’s Digest, (I have added my own pearls of experience too), here we go!
MY QUICK GUIDE:
As we all know: GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to write a bad first draft. Don’t expect it not to be.
Let it rest, leave it to marinate, don’t be tempted to lift the lid for a peep. Drawers are good places for printed m/s to take a break. Leave it for at least a couple of weeks if you can, months even.
Return to read it (out loud) with fresh eyes.
By reading aloud you will discover any areas which don’t make sense or trip you up. Mark/Highlight these. Spell checked homophones. Tenses.
Spot any inconsistences with character/setting.
Choose your favourite colour/pen and explore, re-read, seek out golden nuggets. They may still need editorial development – but these parts work (for now*) and you don’t want to lose them yet.
*By draft 3 or 9 these golden parts may no longer fit – if they truly are amazing make note of them and file them to be embedded into future work.
This article was written by Madeline Sharples. She is the author of Leaving the Hall Light On (Lucky Press, May 2011).
Madeline Sharples delves into her editing process and encourages us to write an editing schedule. This is not something I have done, but then the longest m/s I edited was Novella length. I probably did a schedule if I glued together all the individual To Do Lists which were part of my process.
There are 7 Top Tips covered in this article.
Create a revision plan
Don’t edit as you write
Use a hardcopy
Have others review your work
The subjectivity of reviews
Create a schedule with Milestones and STICK TO IT
Keep going until you are satisfied.
My practise does include some of her 7 Top Tips: I tend to recarpet in m/s pages rather than using a wall. Mainly because there is less free wall space available to us at 5’4! My work is often peer reviewed, I am part of several editing groups and another opinion is always valuable (but remember, also subjective).
I do create schedules and action plans. Often they are bitesize, by week or monthly overview of action. I forgive myself when I don’t stick to them.
So enjoy the writing process and take a deep breath before you begin editing. Like your writing ability, editorial skills will develop with experience. Remember to repeat what works for you, find a system of editing that you can enjoy and keep a copy of that first draft so you can see how far the m/s has come!
Maureen Thorson is both humble and selfless in her annual encouragement of poetry. One thing which struck me when I discovered NaPoWriMo (2014) was how generous Maureen was with her time and Napo prompts. She wasn’t after any awards or even a mailing list, she was just giving.
So I am delighted this year to be able to give something back. I feel Maureen truly deserves it!
National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April.
This website (napowrimo.net) is owned and operated by Maureen Thorson, a poet living in Washington, DC. Inspired by NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month), she started writing a poem a day for the month of April back in 2003, posting the poems on her blog. When other people started writing poems for April, and posting them on their own blogs, Maureen linked to them. After a few years, so many people were doing NaPoWriMo that Maureen decided to launch an independent website for the project.
This site was designed by the very nice people at 2the9design, who know waaaaayyyyy more about back-end coding stuff than Maureen does. But this site isn’t meant to be “official,” or to indicate ownership or authority over the idea of writing 30 poems in April. There is no corporate sponsorship of this project. No money is intended to change hands anywhere. Maureen just likes poems and wants to encourage people to write them. The site doesn’t ask for your email address, or any other personal information. Heck, you don’t even have to give your name.
Maureen Thorson’s collection Share the Wealth combines playful persona poems and satires with beautiful lyrics about life in the woods. One can’t move to Maine without channeling the ghost of James Schuyler, so it’s not surprising that his careful and sly observational style informs Thorson’s most grounded lyrics. “Bliss is relative,” says a frog in one of her poems, and I’m grateful to these poems for reminding us to look for bliss, however relative it may be.
— Joanna Fuhrman, author of To a New Era
And here you can find a reading from February 2022 – Boog City festival.
Maureen Thorson is the author of Share the Wealth (Veliz Books, 2022), On Dreams (Bloof Books 2021), My Resignation (Shearsman 2014), and Applies to Oranges (Ugly Duckling Presse 2011), as well as the chapbook Mayport, which won the Poetry Society of America’s national chapbook fellowship for 2006. She lives in Falmouth, Maine.
Projects in the Poetry World which keep longevity are to be praised, heartfelt gratitude to Maureen for keeping NaPoWriMo part of our lives every April!
NaPoWriMo certainly gets to the heart of things. I enjoy April every year for the gifts of words and focus on poetry. I give myself permission to write a lot of rubbish, but every year there are a handful of poems created with a glow, many of these go on to be published in magazines, anthologies and my own collections.