The featured participant for the day is Yodel! Yodel!, where the response to the “news article” prompt for Day 13 proposed a version of NaPoWriMo I think we all could get behind.
Our reading for the day is is another live event, which will take place tomorrow, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. eastern daylight time. Poet Hanif Abdurraqib will read live online from his 2019 book, A Fortune for Your Disaster.
… Our prompt for the day. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that delves into the meaning of your first or last name. Looking for inspiration? Take a look at this poem by Mark Wunderlich, appropriately titled “Wunderlich.”
PROCESS NOTES: How to make up lost time…
Today I treated myself to a massive catch up, carved out some time and set myself to work. It occurred to me yesterday that what I needed was not discipline but time, and not time as in half a day or an extra day but time as in set yourself a task and an alarm for 10 minutes – the proper bite size approach.
I had gaps. Napo gaps. They’re a thing. It happens. The choice is yours and many choose to skip the prompt – there are no consequences, no one is checking up on you. I wanted to push myself to close the gaps and although a 10 minute alarm may sound like pressure, it wasn’t. It fired me up to work efficiently.
I approached the gaps chronologically and caught up with my failed* Day 9 poem, Day 11, 12 and 13 writes. *This prompt was sticky for me, I had chosen the wrong subject and so nothing worked. The secret – one I use often… do your writing offline, thus avoiding all internet rabbit holes!
Another tip if you are catching up with yourself, don’t look at the next prompt until your writing is done. So it’s 4:30 PM and I have just arrived at today’s prompt knowing that by tomorrow morning I will be back on track!
I will update the blog posts with process notes over the next few days.
However you approach NaPoWriMo, make sure you enjoy it! 30 days is a marathon, so make sure you use the pit stops.
And enjoyable is how I would describe the participant’s poem today. Very wry. Was in love with it from the first stanza.
Morning prompts, on your breakfast tray, come delivered to you
in bed, in silence, by a coffee barista who will come back only when
you clear your throat that special way.
wander the compound’s grounds which come complete
with spontaneous yoga mats where you can stretch into the day
at ease and breathe in-in-inspirationnnn should you feel the need.
And the 2nd letter – Letter to the Editor – is inspired and brilliant! Made me chuckle. I read and re-read this poem many times.
I wanted to have a go at writing to the prompt before I read Mark Wunderlich’s Wunderlich. I already know my name means Princess and War. I was 8 when I discovered my middle name means the same as my first. I am Princess Princess War. Certainly one side of me, perhaps. This is all book knowledge/pre-internet so I am looking forward to referencing accurately and discovering after a lifetime of basically being She Ra, my name means something else!
As with some recent days, I have had a busy one and my brain and eyes need to log off. I have my name notes and will concoct a poem for breakfast before looking at Day 15.
Our featured participant for the day is Katie Staten, who wrote a poem in response to the “junk-drawer song” prompt that really does feel like a song.
Today’s featured poetry reading is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 12, at 7:15 p.m. eastern daylight time. Pulitzer prize-winner Yusef Komunyakaa will be reading online through Zoom as part of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, Massachussetts.
Prompt. This is a twist on a prompt offered by Kay Gabriel during a meeting she facilitated at the Poetry Project last year. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a two-part poem, in the form of an exchange of letters. The first stanza (or part) should be in the form of a letter that you write either to yourself or to a famous fictional or historical person. The second part should be the letter you receive in response.
PROCESS NOTES: With PLENTY of musical rabbit holes!
Due to my slightly excessive Saturday diary, I spent most of this morning revisiting the Day 10 prompt. It is normal to find yourself sailing behind the tide a little with NaPo, (don’t let it worry you) especially if you are working, balancing a life and not chained to your laptop all day. I thoroughly enjoyed this prompt and although I wrote pages of material had to trust it would come together in the end.
And it did and it was fantastical and it was something that definitely wouldn’t exist without this prompt and also I feel my 3 pages of 10mins (or less) writes will provide me with more material to write from.
I bent the prompt a little, which is fine. I wrote about the junk drawer first and because most of my house is disorganised like a junk drawer I drew from memory. This is all I managed yesterday in between meetings and readings. This morning I added more detail to the junk drawer write, which was originally just a list of items. I spent a long while choosing a song, and couldn’t find a definite answer, so I made a short-list like a Top 10, closed my eyes and pointed at one.
I played ‘Riders on the Storm’~ The Doors and started to freewrite – 3 paragraphs – I didn’t officially time 10 minutes but the chosen video ran to over 7 mins and I was still writing into the second repeat. Then I re-read the prompt and replayed the track from the start focusing on textures and the other areas of the prompt and this came out more like a list of items. 1 A4 page.
It took 13 pages of work and is saved in a separate document to the rest of the work I have done so far. I really like the outcome, love the surreal feel of it. It still feels a little loose, I shall enjoy coming back to this one.
This afternoon has been busy so I didn’t read the new prompt for Day 11 until after 8pm. The featured participant is once again from a blog I already follow, I read Like Gods.
… tonight we leave the windows open, let the city in.
… A new home held shut with staples,
When we start over with spare paper and old notes, we are like gods.
We’ve kept stones and broken things to build our own world with them.
I was absorbed by this poem so much that I didn’t even consider the prompt, I read this poem, until the drawer was mentioned. I guess most of our drawers hold old notes, so lovely to know they now appear in our Day 10 poems. I love the fact that Katie Staten not only concludes the poem but also justifies why we hold onto junk objects. Double kudos for including the batteries – I had them in my freewrite but they didn’t make it into the final poem.
I read the prompt and the original source for today and I have decided to bank it for tomorrow. My brain is barely working and I have a memorial service/virtual Remembrance to attend. I feel I need to just STOP for a little while before that. Working through yesterday’s prompt and being in meetings, editing and reading/festival events today has been great but far from restful. I only hope tomorrow is a kind/small prompt so I can play catch up.
At least I demonstrate well how NaPoWriMo goes/how writing slides/how you just catch up and continue forwards.
As of today, we are one-third of the way through Na/GloPoWriMo 2021.
Our featured participant today is Ordinary Average Thoughts, where you will find, in response to our “unusual to-do list” prompt, the to-do list of a remote control.
Today’s reading is a pre-recorded event that you can enjoy at your leisure. It features the poet Jericho Brown reading at the Cuyahoga County Public Library back in 2019.
Finally, here’s our daily prompt (optional, of course!). It’s called “Junk Drawer Song,” and comes to us from the poet Hoa Nguyen.
First, find a song with which you are familiar – it could be a favorite song of yours, or one that just evokes memories of your past. Listen to the song and take notes as you do, without overthinking it or worrying about your notes making sense.
Next, rifle through the objects in your junk drawer – or wherever you keep loose odds and ends that don’t have a place otherwise. (Mine contains picture-hanging wire, stamps, rubber bands, and two unfinished wooden spoons I started whittling four years ago after taking a spoon-making class). On a separate page from your song-notes page, write about the objects in the drawer, for as long as you care to.
Now, bring your two pages of notes together and write a poem that weaves together your ideas and observations from both pages.
Congratulations – you made it! Double figure days and 1/3 through – well done!
This morning I felt the opposite of yesterday, I think the mind knows weekend. I had meetings and events booked today which kept me as busy as I was yesterday. So once again it was a disjointed, bitesize Napo day. I didn’t have the pressure of writing on my own project today, which was a weight lifted. Parts of today were high intensity – mentally – my walking tally’s still held at 1.
The featured participant writes a blog I know/follow Ordinary Average Thoughts, so I knew I was in for a treat and the poem Remote control to-do list didn’t disappoint. A delightful read and a universal experience. The use of repetition for comic effect works well and the stanza which matched my own remote control’s bad behaviour, had me smiling:
4 Fail to communicate regularly with the set-top box, so it will ask him “are you still there?” in the middle of a show he is actively watching.
The video is 45 mins – I promise you that time will fly but I wanted to properly listen to it so I saved it for later, to watch after the live events I am attending this evening. He reads for 20+ mins and then it’s a Q & A.
Acclaimed poet Jericho Brown won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2015 for The New Testament, a powerful examination of race, masculinity and sexuality. He’ll join us to read selections from his latest collection, The Tradition, and to announce the winners of the 84th Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards honoring the 2018 books that excel in confronting racism and exploring human diversity.
Previous winners include Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Gunnar Myrdal, Toni Morrison, Marilyn Chin, Sandra Cisneros and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
I like Jericho Brown’s work. I found him through NaPo and his Duplex form a few years ago and have watched and read closely ever since. I had a workshop with him last year which was captivating. I am lucky enough to have another one later this month.
Although I know a lot of the poems (mainly from The Tradition) and have watched him read them before, they do not lose power. It is lovely to see him enjoying the audience so much too. A good audience makes all the difference and this crowd harness all the enthusiasm of the State!
I loved Jericho’s honesty. I think one of the attractions of his work and his readings is the soul level/spirit. Here he tells us how this book tried to kill him. How he fell out with it so many times… and this is something we don’t expect, but it is common. The publishing process for poetry can be fairly lengthy so by the time the books are in hands the work is several years old. We work so hard to get published that you would expect us to throw a party and celebrate (which we do as well) but as several points before the book becomes it does try to kill you. You do fall out with it. It does get inside your head. I almost hated the poems by the time they were bound – you learn to love them again, you just need to give yourself a little space. So I think it’s really good to hear this from a poet as established as Jericho Brown. Like rejection this love-hate relationship with our work is natural and normal and something to accept and learn to deal with. I only wish I had heard those words before 2015.
In the Q&A Jericho talks about process, which I have heard him discuss before. I love hearing different ways we all work.
NaPo always introduces me to poets. One of yesterday’s headaches was realising I had missed a reading which included Denise Duhamel, featured in Napo Day 8.
Today’s prompt comes from a website that has a wealth of resources for generating more writing and has been added to my resources document.
It’s a great prompt – one I have done before (juxtaposed) but never with a junk drawer and music. The music part on it’s own, yes… recently in fact in our final Experimenting With… class with Tawnya Renelle. I was looking forward to writing this prompt but with such a lack of concentrated time, I just have notes at the moment. The junk drawer is great fun and I will update this post to let you know how it went tomorrow.
PROCESS NOTES for this wonderful prompt can be read here.
Our prompt for the day is to write a poem in the form of a “to-do list.” The fun of this prompt is to make it the “to-do list” of an unusual person or character. For example, what’s on the Tooth Fairy’s to-do list?… Your list can be a mix of extremely boring things and wild things…
I started Day 9 like this! ^ Why? I had a To Do list already (not ironic… just a daily map), some days when I get up it can take my body an hour or so to sort itself out and this was one of those days. So my TO DO list was delayed by a couple of hours and I had an event at 11 and another at 4 with a the gap between to squeeze a lot in, including work on 4 new poems and a few areas of research. So I was really happy to discover today’s prompt was a manageable one and I had time for it.
Sometimes during NaPoWriMo you can feel like the above picture, try your best to STOP if you do, this month is meant to be ENJOYABLE. Try bite size Napo like I have today.
How toBITESIZE NaPo:
Read the site /prompt.
Later revisit and complete link searches. I looked up the event reading.
Later on I read the participant/feature poem – I stopped, remembering the Day 8 prompt and knew this was going to be a hard read. Deep breath…
Later on, about 6 hours later I looked at the prompt and started my write.
I started with the featured poem.
A sad, tender work of loss. Many of us experience our first loss as children or teens. I lost family members as a child, but was 14 when I lost my first friend. This poet lost this friend over 50 years ago and Laurie is still very much a part of him. This was a powerful dramatic monologue.
You’ve navigated the highway well, that treacherous stretch of road that can flip us at any moment.
I have a feeling this prompt will have thrown a lot up for many of us.
I made notes of the reading and then read the prompt. I have written To Do list poems before in a workshop. I wanted to use a person who is connected to a current writing area. So I did a tiny bit of referencing first and then, as I have no time for a deeper dive today (starting events again in 20 minutes), I just completed a free write.
This by far has been the most challenging NaPo prompt! It took me 4 days to decide on my subject. I researched 2 historical figures and one creature before finally settling on a random image finder and settling on a loofah. I then fell down the rabbit hole of imagining it would imagine itself as other things. I freewrote in the end and it came out as a rounded list of 20 things on the TO DO list* ranging from pranking razor to repeating mantras and working through some personal issues. It is humorous – which delights me as my cannon of funny poems (after 6 years) is now approaching double figures! *Far too long for a real one.
8. Send another angry telepathy note to flannel
Some poems make you wait… it was worth it in the end!
Today, our featured participant is Uncle Phil’s Blog, where the Shadorma/Fib prompt for Day 7 led to a very funny shadorma indeed.
Our featured reading for the day is pre-recorded, so that you can watch it whenever you like. It features the poet Denise Duhamel, reading at Arizona State University.
Our prompt – I call this one “Return to Spoon River,” after Edgar Lee Masters’ eminently creepy 1915 book Spoon River Anthology. The book consists of well over 100 poetic monologues, each spoken by a person buried in the cemetery of the fictional town of Spoon River, Illinois.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to read a few of the poems from Spoon River Anthology, and then write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily – perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood, like the gentleman who ran the shoeshine stand, or one of your grandmother’s bingo buddies. As with Masters’ poems, the monologue doesn’t have to be a recounting of the person’s whole life, but could be a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy. Be as dramatic as you like – Masters’ certainly didn’t shy away from high emotion in writing his poems.
PROCESS NOTES:Watch out for the not-really-Rabbit-Holes!
Welcome to the 2nd week of NaPoWriMo! I found today good fun, hope you do too. I started with the featured participant I LOVED the coffee poem, both poems followed form. The Shadorma about family was intriguing – I know the Shadorma was promoted as funny (it can be read this way) < see how subjective poetry is? When I read it – Uncle Pete caused concern and then later in thought perhaps sympathy – the fact we don’t know why he is left out is a little sinister, or perhaps just brothers who have fallen out, there’s lots to unpack for such a short form – clever writing.
Today was a day of 100s of poems! I listened to the Denise Duhamel Poetry Reading at ASU. Denise Duhamel Poetry Reading at the Arizona State University “Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference.”
Denise Duhamel earned a BFA at Emerson College and an MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Citing Dylan Thomas and Kathleen Spivack as early influences, Duhamel writes both free verse and fixed-form poems that fearlessly combine the political, sexual, and ephemeral. Duhamel has published numerous collections of poetry, including Kinky (1997), Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (2001), and Ka-Ching! (2009). Her honors include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has been included in several volumes of Best American Poetry, and has also been featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and Bill Moyers’s PBS poetry special Fooling with Words. An associate professor at Florida International University, she lives in Florida.
It was a great reading, amusing and a fantastic companion to my morning coffee and at 20 minutes more manageable than some of the featured readings offered. The story behind her Sestina to Sean Penn is brilliant! Delta Flight 659 for Sean Penn. I will watch/listen/share this reading.
If you want more than 20 minutes of poetry you can let Vimeo deliver the rest of the “Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference” videos to your screen, most of them are from 2012 Conference.
I listened to Sally Ball. – Not exactly a rabbit hole because I wasn’t seeking it – glad I caught her reading though.
Sally Ball reading from “Annus Mirabilis” at the Arizona State University “Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference.”
Sally Ball is the author of Annus Mirabilis, which was selected by Ellen Bryant Voigt for the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize (NY: Barrow Street, 2005). Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Ploughshares, Slate, Threepenny Review, Yale Review, and other journals, as well as in the Best American Poetry anthology. Ball is the associate director of Four Way Books, an independent press based in New York City. In 2007 she was the Margaret Bridgman Fellow in Poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, where she teaches poetry workshops, courses in modern and contemporary American poetry, and a literary publishing and editing class. She also offers internships with Four Way Books to students in the MFA Program for Creative Writing.
I also read more of Denise Duhamel‘s poems on Poets.org – again notreally-a-rabbit-hole as it was on the same page as the NaPo link and I have only just discovered Denise today and loved her work. Rabbit Hole in time though. I have stored a few for later.
NaPoWriMo often send gems of ebook resources, I didn’t read all of the Spoon River Anthology but I have saved the link on my NaPo resource list. A free book, always a bonus!
Today’s prompt meant that I returned to the book with a 2nd cup of coffee to read a few poems. I have only ever written one dramatic monologue – they were a popular form here on the spoken word circuit about 5 years ago, especially amongst students studying creative writing. Of course they have been in vogue for years and used by Wordsworth, Browning, Tennyson, Eliot and Yeats, to name a few. They are sometimes referred to as persona poems. I have a background in theatre and drama so at one point in my life knew more monologues than poems. The poetic form is a little different from the dramatic form.
I know this prompt is one I shall start this morning and carry with me before I sit to write it out. Especially as I have my first walk in 2021 Walk in Nature planned before lunch. It won’t be far because of the leg/back recovery but it will be OUTSIDE and although cold the sky is blue, there is no sun and the sun is SHINING! Scarf and boots ready. Also it was around this time last year in the 1st UK Lockdown when I felt brave enough to venture outside of my home range for a walk. I saw three fields over the course of 2020 grow through a cycle that let me know some of our world still works as it did. There are geese, ducks, birds of prey and the hills in the background and in a socially distanced way, my mum (who has been shielding so we have big gaps of time where we didn’t see each other off screen).
The walk was a joy! The sky was big.
… read a few of the poems from Spoon River Anthology, and then write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead… perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood, … a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy.
Read from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters.
I only read a few of the poems from Spoon River, Cassius Hueffer explores the idea of people’s idea* of us and our real selves can be different. *I like the idea that it may not be the truthful version of what people think anyway but the gravestone is not the place to write a harsh truth. I know whatever comes in the next few hours will stem from this poem.
The basics of a dramatic monologue, demonstrated through the poems collected in the Spoon River Anthology:
Single person speaking/ opinions not necessarily those of poet (assumed character)/ – which creates a distance between the reader and the writer, /it is dramatic (like the theatre- settings/character/conflict) so is spoken to/assumes a listener or is addressed to another character.
M.H. Abrams says; “The main principle controlling the poet’s choice and formulation of what the lyric speaker says is to reveal to the reader, in a way that enhances its interest, the speaker’s temperament and character.”
What came out was a two page poem about a friend we recently lost to suicide. In his voice. Free written, typed at speed. I won’t share an extract but I feel him with me, in my heart.
WOW. Today’s Napo is powerful and not necessarily pleasant in the end, give yourselves self-care if you have written about … or found this traumatic or difficult, this prompt could unpluck a lot of people. Take care. x
Well we have all made it to the end of Week 1! By now you may have written 0-7 poems, however many you have managed to write they will all be poems which would not have existed without some of these prompts.
If you’re following from here or napowrimo.net you will have been given the option of reading 12 poems from 12 different poets, some of them established and some participants.
In watching the events and video resources you will have heard more poems than I can accurately estimate. By now your mind is swimming in words and there is no sign of the tide going out anytime soon… welcome to NaPoWriMo!
REFLECTION – WEEK 1
This week I have written 10 poems, of these I think several will go on further, 2 were the short form from today and 2 were written the day after the prompt – one from The Sun Ra Arkestra, (I’ve already established I could happily use the Day 1 prompt for the entire month) and one from the Universal Deck activity where I created and left it as word sculpture on the day and was then inspired to write the words into a poem after reading a participant’s featured poem.
IF I HAD TO PICK THE BEST BITS…
My favourite prompt this week: Day 5 “The Shapes a Bright Container Can Contain,”
Catching Treasure ~ New-to-me-Poets: Mairead Case, Kenyatta Rogers, Erika Hodges & Mary Szybist (Day 5), Sandra Beasley, Teri Ellen Cross Davis & Michael McClure (Day 3) and Monica de la Torre (Day 1).
I always enjoy discovering new resources and poets and this week has been a treasure trove.
SURVIVAL TIPS FOR NAPOWRIMO
Honestly… don’t worry!
Catch up if you can and if you want to…
Do not be held back by a prompt (unless you want the challenge).
Switch off your inner editor/critic.
Know that even writing you don’t consider any good is taking you somewhere.
At the end of the first week I thought it would be fun to leave 7 tips. Many of these will be happening naturally as you sit down to pen a poem each day.
No one is judging this process, it doesn’t matter if by the end of April you have 1 poem or 100.
It is easy to slip behind trying to balance a daily write with real life, if you fall behind you may find you can catch up later in the month if you feel it’s a poem you want to write.
There are plenty of poetry prompts all over the internet so find a different one or just go rogue. Write 3 words or 3 lines a poem doesn’t have to be an epic.
Quite often in my general poetry making my starting point will be a free write, thousands of poets work this way. If the thought of trying to write a poem feels impossible… just write.
This is one of the hardest challenges to overcome, that critic comes with their own remote and the mute button is glitchy. Just try your best, it takes years – but you can train them to sit quietly in the corner.
Often with a mass write there will be ‘wasted ink’ – something you consider rubbish. Sometimes people say ‘this is rubbish’ and then go on to read something fantastic out loud! Try to stop saying it’s rubbish or see it as rubbish…. all the writing you do takes you somewhere. You can’t expect it to be amazing everyday. Lower the expectation to – today I will write. Don’t even read it afterwards… we’re not editing yet.
You have no excuse this month. Every day the prompt provides at least 1 poem to read (reading includes listening to audio/ watching video), you may find your own rabbit holes or decide you want to find more work from a particular writer. Embrace the read. It will ALWAYS help develop and improve your writing.
Today marks the end of the first week of Na/GloPoWriMo 2021. Our featured participant today infinebow, where the prompt for Day 6 led to a chatty-and-dreamy poem about salt and other things.
Today’s reading is a live event sponsored by Cornell University that will take place tomorrow, April 8, at 7 p.m. eastern daylight time. It features the poet Camonghne Felix.
Prompt: There are many different poetic forms. Some have specific line counts, syllable counts, stresses, rhymes, or a mix-and-match of the above… Today, I’d like to challenge you to pick from two – the shadorma, and the Fib.
The shadorma is a six-line, 26-syllable poem (or a stanza – you can write a poem that is made of multiple shadorma stanzas). The syllable count by line is 3/5/3/3/7/5. Rather poetically, the origin of the shadorma is mysterious…
Our second syllabic form is much more forthright about its recent origins. Like the shadorma, the Fib is a six-line form. But now, the syllable count is based off the Fibonacci sequence of 1/1/2/3/5/8. You can link multiple Fibs together into a multi-stanza poem, or even start going backwards after your first six lines, with syllable counts of 8/5/3/2/1/1. Lots of things in the natural world hew to the sequence – like pinecones and flower petals. And now your poems can, too.
Due to an oversight in the diary (a clashing event which was actually the night before), I did manage to see the beginning of the Open Door: Mairead Case, Kenyatta Rogers, Erika Hodges and Israel Solis Jr Poetry Foundation Reading – which was wonderful. Unfortunately, I was watching from bed as it started just after 1 AM and was asleep before the end.
I watched Mairead Case read from Tiny, I listened to Erika Hodges and most of Kenyatta Rogers. They were all superb readings and had it not been so late, I may have made it through.
The Open Door series presents work from new and emerging poets, and highlights writing instruction and poetic partnerships. Each event features readings by two Chicagoland writers and two of their current or recent students or writing partners.
Mairead Case writes and teaches in Denver and Chicago. Case is the author of Tiny, See You In the Morning, TENDERNESS, and To The Teeth, a column at Entropy. She publishes and edits widely, with work most recently in Poetry, JSTOR Daily, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Media Institute, Public Collectors, and Maggot Brain, where she is the Associate Editor. She teaches at Naropa University, the Colorado School of Mines, GALS Denver, and inside the Denver Women’s Jail. Case holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD from the University of Denver, and, as an abolitionist, has been a Legal Observer with the NLG for over a decade.
Erika Hodges is a gender expansive poet and performance artist living and breathing somewhere between Brooklyn and Boulder. They are a graduate of Naropa University and an MFA candidate at Pratt Institute. Hodges’s work can be found at Flag + Void, CALYX, The Adirondack Review, and The Poetry Project, among others. A 2021 Can Serrat residency fellow as well as a Brooklyn Poets Fellow, Hodges works as a poet’s assistant, editor, and archivist. Their work and life is deeply devoted to queer love, troubling borders and binaries, and the idea of lineage and poetry as a sort of home. They will be pursuing their JD next fall, where they hope to continue the work of shaping language that can move us toward liberation.
Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem Fellow, and has been awarded scholarships from the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference; he has also been nominated multiple times for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. Rogers’s work has been previously published in Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, The Volta, PANK, and MAKE Magazine, among others. He is a lead teacher and lecturer at the Poetry Foundation’s Summer Teacher Institute and Chautauqua Institution’s Young Writer Institute. He is also a cohost of the Sunday Reading Series with Simone Muench, and serves on the Creative Writing Faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts.
Israel Solis, Jr. is a 17-year-old Latino born and raised in Chicago; he will soon graduate from the Chicago High School for the Arts, majoring in poetry. He plans to study journalism and one day publish his own poetry collection. Most of his writing centers around illness, life, death, the things that follow death; his inspiration comes from being raised in a very religious household, witnessing death, and questioning existence.
Maybe it is because I’m feeling tired but it occurred to me as I visited the participant’s site this morning that I couldn’t remember yesterday’s prompt, so was reading this poem without knowing where it came from (which is what happens to all our NaPo poems in the end). Salt—Poem – I remember now we were using a line of text as title to start our write and then redact the title. I liked the story inside this poem and the use of salt throughout.
ever since I’ve been eating cold rice hot ones sizzle in my strawberry mouth
I registered for Camonghne Felix’s Reading, but again it is midnight – 1AM BST and follows a night of SpeakEasy, so it is unlikely I will manage to stay awake.
I was not aware of the Fibonacci Code until 2016, if I had been introduced to it as a child I had forgotten it. I discovered Fibonacci poetry around the same time (apparently founded 10 years earlier by Gregory K. Pincus), I’ve written some and used the form in school workshops before. Despite this basic grounding I had a good read of the articles and related links. I had come across the Shadorma before (probably through Writer’s Digest, who have a great page on forms), but hadn’t written one.
Having just experienced something medical related this morning that was what I wrote about, the shortness of the syllable count/lines added a certain urgency to the poem which suited the subject well.
one large white tablet saves you
I then went on to revisit Fibonacci poetry, which I haven’t written for years.
I wanted to write about something other than the subject of the first poem, but another body poem came out. Perfectly formed in the correct syllables – sometimes this happens in short form number based forms- you naturally start to write to the rhythm.
body ready for the scrapheap
Sometimes Napo prompts lend themselves to hours of research and writing, other times they are completed in a flash. I will revisit these forms again when I have more time to spend with them. There is a lot on today’s TO DO list and for me NaPo today is done!
Congratulations on making it through 1 week of NaPoWriMo! Well done!
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.
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.
Today, our featured participant is color me in cyanide and cherry . . ., where the liminal prompt for Day 4 led to a wonderfuly dreamy-spooky poem, and taught me a new word, too!
Our featured reading is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 6, at 8 p.m. eastern daylight time. The poets Mairead Case, Kenyatta Rogers, Erika Hodges, and Israel Solis, Jr will all be reading as part of the Open Door Series, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation.
And now for our prompt. I call this one “The Shapes a Bright Container Can Contain,” after this poem by Theodore Roethke.
This prompt challenges you to find a poem, and then write a new poem that has the shape of the original, and in which every line starts with the first letter of the corresponding line in the original poem… Any poem will do as a jumping-off point, but if you’re having trouble finding one, perhaps you might consider Mary Szybist’s “We Think We Do Not Have Medieval Eyes” or for something shorter, Natalie Shapero’s “Pennsylvania.”
Yesterday I spent some extra time with NaPo – inspired by the featured participant poem, I wrote a poem from the 6 words drawn from the Universal Deck prompt (Day 3), which involved some planetary research – again this is a theme I explored in poetry a few years ago so felt like familiar territory. The poem explores the disconnect between creative and scientific and stories we believe. It was surprising – as any poem resulting from the deck prompt is bound to be.
I read the featured poem Waldeinsamkeit, this is the chosen image. An incredible, wondrous poem grew from this prompt.
Waldeinsamkeit – I knew this was a German word, but haven’t studied the language since I was a teenager, when I looked up the meaning I discovered it loosely translates as: solitude of the forest/ the feeling of being alone in the woods. Wald (“forest”) + Einsamkeit (“loneliness”), which I think you get from the poem anyway but it does put the forest ensemble in context.
When I read this poem I was struck by many lines:
handing out tea-cups of air to a stuffed forest ensemble seated around the table – You watch but do not drink, not even of the sunlight
will not breach through my eyes that reach with the hunger of the treetops,
the nightbound places of my roots;
I was absorbed into this poem of body and wood, of devil and soil, of observation and being watched (or not). I had a wander around the blog and read other poems by Mirjana M, Inalman.
I often use the Poetry Foundation website, I hope to attend this reading series but it is 1-2AM BST and I am in a late night event which finishes at 1 AM already and in a month when I was attempting to cool the number of readings I attend. The laptop is on its last legs and I have work to finish. It is in the diary but may be missed. I discovered the NaPo reading from yesterday was also LIVE/available to watch on You Tube, so maybe the PF one will be too, although looking at their You Tube channel there is no evidence of this.
When I read today’s prompt I felt my mind twist with the implication for the resulting work. I was happy to try something I haven’t done before. I never did the ‘mimic’ poem/poet stage as a developing writer and although prompts like this can throw up some incredibly original work I worry about the link to the original and the closeness of forgery. I guess if the poem I create is ever submitted I would just cite ‘After…’ and the original source. I know the copyright laws/infringement vary greatly between the US and UK. I did a lot of research when I was editing the Transatlantic Anthology for the A Tale of Two Cities project, from which many poets have gone on to publish their work, which is a joy. (Another anthology of Worcestershire poetry ‘The Poetry of Worcestershire’, published by Offa’s Press featured a great many poems local poets had written during my Worcestershire Poet Laureate projects too.) Spreading the poetry love!
As I was unsure about creating from an already created source, I decided to use one of the referenced poems (which probably means there will be millions of almost couplet poems starting with O-W-I-I-W lines), but never-mind, that is the fun of Napo, just to play and create. We are not writing for publication right now.
For all the years I have done this writing month I have a handful of decent/reworked/edited/workshopped Napo poems in print, there are a few in both my own collections Fragile Houses (2016) and Patience (2019) as well as various magazines and anthologies. But right now, if you are feeling like me… just breathe and DIVE IN!
When I extracted Natalie Shapero’s “Pennsylvania” the first thing I noticed was the amount of repeated letters, I know there are differences between UK and US poetry too and was unsure whether this would result in a good poem at first. But remember rules can always be broken and already I feel this ‘mimic form prompt’ will possibly be rendered down to create a different end-poem, I got down to the writing anyway. After all, NaPo isn’t about worrying whether the writing is any good and even our rubbish writes take us somewhere.
Do not be afraid and if a prompt scares you that can be a GOOD thing, NaPo for me is all about writing poems which would not otherwise have been written.
Another tip would be: Choose a poem you aren’t familiar with, don’t read it. Strip it for the parts needed to complete this prompt – write and only when finished read the original poem. Then you know for sure you have copied nothing but the initial letters and form. (Number of stanzas, lines etc.).
Mimicry is actually a recognised part of writing development it appears in many workshops and academic classes. Remind yourself you are not doing anything wrong here.
The start of my creation looked like this.
It took a surprisingly long time to create a poem, mainly because the idea forms of what it is you want to say and then you have to find a word starting with a specific letter to fit that, but this is the gold dust of this prompt – by following the constraints of the rule you finish with a poem worded in a way you wouldn’t naturally have written it.
I didn’t worry too much about the ten syllable counts, or matching line lengths to the original, I just wrote what felt right.
After I finished I read the original and copied and pasted the poems side by side. Several of my lines were longer in places so I changed the size of the font to make them carry the couplet form, (obviously not necessary when just looking at my poem alone). I was intrigued to find that I started with the idea of the world still turning, carrying on without you and the original Natalie is talking of death and new life, the circle of life;
the whole of the globe turning
off for a moment, then shuddering
back, the same as it was,
Covering the same concept because when you are ill in hospital or cut off by grief you feel this sense of no longer being part of the world, and yet everything around you carries on despite your world being forever changed. Other than that the poems are (I am happy to say) completely different. And the common ground is a universal experience which has been written about for hundreds/thousands of years. My troublesome title came right at the end, I had a selection of P words, but Prognosis only entered my head as I was typing the penultimate couplet.
An extract from Prognosis:
encode the hours between meds and cups of tea.
Accept this bed, this broken body–
prophesize your release.
I knew of Natalie Shapero, but had not read this particular poem. It sounds like a spectacular collection, read about it here:
Today’s featured participant is The Silver Cow Creamer, where the personal universal deck prompt brought about a poem that not just musicians can love.
Our reading for the day is a pre-recorded one, so you can watch it whenever you like. It features the poet Ocean Vuong, reading at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2017.
…our daily optional prompt. Poetry often takes us to strange places – to feelings and actions that are hard to express except through the medium of a poem. To the “liminal,” in other words – a place or sensation that exists at or on both sides of a boundary or threshold, neither one thing or the other, but something betwixt and between.
In honor of the always-becoming nature of poetry, I challenge you today to select a photograph from the perpetually disconcerting @SpaceLiminalBot, and write a poem inspired by one of these odd, in-transition spaces. No matter what neglected or eerie space you choose, I hope its oddness tugs at the place in your mind and heart where poems are made.
Last night I spent some time looking around participating sites and reading a selection of NaPo poems.
I really admire a lot of Ocean Vuong’s poetry. I also spent time, about 6 years ago, writing about abandoned places and watching hours worth of urban explorer videos. So after reading NaPo today I was excited to get stuck in. Starting, as always with the featured participant. <Read the full poem here.
The thing I found most powerful about this poem, was knowing the starting point was 6 words from the universal deck, you can’t see them in the poem, this is probably a poem which wouldn’t exist in this form without the original prompt and it is so beautifully nostalgic & encompasses so much story;
‘Of course, you always mispronounced it presto The Piano teacher in you often forgot Mumbai and you became Italian – Presto Mezzo forte, Cantabile, Più mosso…‘
Does the sight of an orange take you back? To Twinkle, twinkle little star variation And John Thompson for beginners…
How you curved my palms over an orange Under the canopy of your fingers And taught me how to curve my fingers Properly over a slightly out-of-tune Steinway…
I admire the specificity – the Steinway being slightly out-of-tune and the musician in me is sold on this piece for that connection alone. The familiarity of the learning. The memory of life as a pianist, as a musician’s daughter, as a collector of ‘For Beginners’. Of his story, of mine. The tenderness in this poem makes it obvious that this is also relationship. A connection of spirit.
Time, season, age, teacher, student, forgotten cities delayed trains and a million other words
I then watched the reading for the day. It is nearly an hour but treat yourself, you won’t be disappointed and if for some reason you have not yet discovered Ocean Vuong – get ready, take a deep breath – you will need it!
The School of Liberal Arts/ FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) have certainly had some incredible poets visit the faculty over the years. This is a stunning and insightful reading.
Poet and essayist Ocean Vuong was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in 1988 and immigrated to the United States in 1990, is the author of the best-selling book Night Sky with Exit Wounds, which won the 2016 Whiting Award.
A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, he has received honors from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize.
Vuong’s writings have been featured in The Atlantic, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinkers, alongside Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon and Warsan Shire, Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered, PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, The New Yorker, and VICE.
From the Q&A: “The need to articulate becomes stronger than the fear.” / “Language as technology…”/ “we do not live in primary colours” (talking about the limit of language)/ “I’m trying to preserve us… a poet writing out of violence… a moment of creation …. and preservation. If I don’t write about this, you will be gone.”
If you enjoyed this I would encourage you to also check out The Strand Bookstore video where Ocean Vuong discusses his highly anticipated, critically acclaimed debut novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press, 2019).
I really enjoyed the Napo resources last year introducing me to twitter bots and have used them on occasion since. I spent a L O N G time looking through the images of liminal spaces. If you don’t have time the full post offers 3 options, but it is worth a dip if you can because I found at least 10 images that really spoke to me.
There is something of the liminal involved in a handful of images being from Game world or fake alongside those of real spaces.
I chose to write about the 8th space which is the pool with stairs leading to REALITY. Caught by REALITY being the inside space, man-made and seemingly leading to nowhere, contrast the fact that you get to REALITY up a flight of stone steps, a part of the world/image where the bright colours have been lost. I sat with the image for a while.
Extract from Margin
A case of not wanting to believe
what we already know.
Today’s prompt was an enjoyable one which left me feeling totally immersed.