Category Archives: NaPoWriMo

NaPo Wrap

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Well throw yourself an after-party! Well done whether you have written 10 poems or 30 you found your way, created something new!

My favourite parts of our final NaPo week/9 days:

Favourite Readings:

Day 24 Reading Ross Gay.

Day 26 Brenda Shaughnessy.

Day 29 Victoria Chang.

I also discovered that I admire Adra Collins’ poetry (live event posted on Day 27).

Favourite Resources:

Day 22 Poets & Writers’ “The Time is Now” column

Although I knew pw.org I hadn’t visited the site for a while and was unaware of this column. You never know when you will need a prompt to get you writing.

And one I will return to over and over Day 27 Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

Favourite Prompt

Day 24

Find a factual article about an animal. Now, go back through the text and replace the name of the animal with something else – it could be something very abstract, like “sadness” or “my heart,” or something more concrete, like “the streetlight outside my window that won’t stop blinking.” You should wind up with some very funny and even touching combinations, which you can then rearrange and edit into a poem.

I have managed to write 38 poems, I am happy with quite a few of them, although I realise they all need a little work. I usually leave them for a month and then look again in June, choosing a selection to work on.

It’s exciting to re-read once you’ve left them rest. Especially with the varied prompts we have just worked through.

Whatever you decide to do with your Napo words, GOOD LUCK!

NaPoWriMo 2021

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So Long Until Next Year Click here for the full post.

We did it, everyone! We got through yet another Na/GloPoWriMo. I hope you enjoyed the prompts, readings, and featured participants this year, and that you have a crop of drafts to work over during May (also known — to me, at least — as National/Global Poetry Revision Month).

Our final featured participants for the year are Hues n Shades and MellowYellow.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who participated… It heartens me every year to see how friendly and supportive Na/GloPoWriMo-ers are of each other’s efforts.

Thank you all, and until next year — happy writing!

So these are the last featured poems for the year. I read Hue n Shades first, Deepa Gopal’s poem intrigued me, I wondered if it was an apocalyptic place/ a war torn city or a fictional place. I liked the atmosphere of it and these lines stood out to me:

Past those fences that align the periphery

Of the lost, discarded city

*

tiny treasures

*

A sapling in the crease of the dilapidated

Second-storey

*

The children of tomorrow

The faded aroma of the spices that once was held

In flamboyant hues arranged on wooden palettes

All that leads to the middle mansion

Where dreams grow in bundles

*

Disbursed in tiny totems

*

Life moves seamlessly in all directions.

*

There were plenty of sensory details and a strong end line.

Next I read the final featured poem. I love the title – Directions to a Dream Life – I knew I was in for a treat.

cut back the Hawthorns

of Romantic Disappointments

*

will hand you a Certificate

of Complete and Utter Rejection

*

you can now take the red boat

and row across the Trials Cove

*

And a satisfyingly positive ending:

as it bubbles, it spills

just slightly over the lip

come here Dreamer – take a sip

It is fun, surreal and captures dreamy well with lots of great specific details.

In coming to post this I remembered about the Sam Sax reading, which I am delighted to say I managed to catch.

And that’s it for another year.

Enjoy your editing!

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 30

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Day Thirty Read the full post here.

Our featured participants today are Amita Paul, who brings us a poem about a porthole, and Anna Enbom, whose response to the “in the window” prompt is filled with a sense of lingering threat.

Today’s featured reading is a live event that will take place tomorrow, May 1, at 3:30 p.m. eastern. Poet sam sax will be reading for The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in New Jersey.

Today’s prompt is based on a prompt written by Jacqueline Saphra, and featured in this group of prompts published back in 2015 by The Poetry Society of the U.K. This prompt challenges you to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. It could be a real place, like your local park, or an imaginary or unreal place, like “the bottom of your heart,” or “where missing socks go.” Fill your poem with sensory details, and make them as wild or intimate as you like.


Happy writing!

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

PROCESS NOTES:

I can’t believe the last day of Napo is here and I have a schedule which keeps me in other pockets of the internet, so I checked this morning read the prompt page and have just come back to it now. I was really excited to see Jacqueline’s name – she is a brilliant poet and lovely woman and I shall add a bit more about her and her work here in this post. In case you have not been lucky enough to find her poems for yourselves yet.

I also love The Poetry Society – they are incredible and one year even offered a NaPoWriMo month of prompts and community. I have looked and used this resource before – but years ago and I am a different person/poet now (so just like when Jericho Brown repeated a masterclass and I rewrote the same work 6 months later there was change and it was exciting to go and find the Autumn notebook and compare the work) so don’t be put off if you are repeating a prompt. Remember you come to the page as a different person.

I started (as always) with the feature poems and loved the fact that I had a porthole on my list as well – and with the second poem that sense of threat matches my poem becoming threatening – I suppose looking in on a space does this to the writing.

I can’t sign in to leave a comment for Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia as my inbox is full and I can’t verify myself. I enjoyed this poem, the flow of it seemed to be rhythmical taking me up and down on the ocean and into the same trance observed in View Through a Port Hole.

It was a fifteen day sea voyage
From Mumbai to Mombasa

Love we are set in place straight away especially as it is a poem exploring the relentless view of sea – which when in the middle of the ocean it does feel you could be anywhere.

And watch the foam forming and dissolving endlessly
On the restless tireless blue waves
And now and then a flying fish

I thought the blue days at sea would never end

I was glad to see landfall
Too much sea can kill the soul.

It was a beautiful poem to start the day with, even though it drives to the madness of being stuck with just the view of blue, for me – so far from the coast it was a much needed visit to the ocean.

Anna Enbom’s poem That window – the second part of this poem really got me. I liked the exploration of coming through the gauntlet of our lives.

Brick buildings though, with kids’ paintings taped to the inside of

the glass door, still makes my thoughts stop and fall


I am often stressed about the years passing, things I have not done

yet and the fact that my death is less distant for every year
But when I think about that window, I know time passing is good
I am not there anymore

This poem holds so much life and emotion, so many stories of lives connecting and crossing and I love that line ‘still makes my thoughts stop and fall’.

I had a look at the featured reading which I should be available to watch tomorrow (although last night I fell asleep in the late night for us USA reading). I looked up Sam Sax and thought he was new to me – but when I read a selection of his poems I came to Prayer for the Mutilated World – and realised I had read his work before.

The prompt today also offers a whole sheet of other prompts – which is great if you are thinking you may have withdrawal symptoms – just visit and do one a day and that will settle you right into May.

I don’t need to write lots for you all about Jacqueline Saphra as she has a brilliant website which will show you all I was going to say.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jacqueline back in 2016 when I read at the London Book Fair, I actually met her on a busy London crossing when I had skipped out for a walk/break/air. I have attended her readings ever since and in 2017 she was one of the Poets in Residence at Swindon Poetry Festival so I got a complete Saphra fix.

Her books are amazing her poetry is incredible and if you don’t her go and spend time on the site. There were many poets who joined Jacqueline writing a sonnet a day and it was a pleasure to read them in the original form and watch them being shared.

Jacqueline’s Lockdown Sonnets of 2020 are bound into this beautifully produced Nine Arches Press book One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets, now available as paperback, the original was a gorgeous hardback – 100 copies were made and the books helped raise the £2000 target for the Trussell Trust Charity. More than half the cover cost went to the charity with every edition sold.

It was certainly exciting to be at the launch of this work and to hear the poems I had read in progress. Plus seeing her guest poets many of whom are on my favourite poets list (the one in my head) And LOOK – you can watch it all here!

The online launch of Jacqueline Saphra’s One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets. With guest poets Anja Konig, Miriam Nash, Jacob Sam-La Rose, plus recorded readings and messages from Ian McMillan and Naomi Shihab Nye.

About this Event:

Launching the publication of One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets by Jacqueline Saphra. A poetic journal that chronicles the personal and political upheavals and tragedies of the Covid pandemic. Written as a daily sonnet throughout the first lockdown, Saphra’s unique, candid and revealing sequence is a record of strange and unparalleled days.

The one hundred poems are published by Nine Arches Press in a limited edition of just one hundred hardback books, marking their 100th publication. Sold in aid of the Trussell Trust which supports a nationwide network of food banks and campaigns for change to end the need for food banks in the UK. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraisin…

Jacqueline Saphra is joined on the night by guest poets Anja Konig, Miriam Nash and Jacob Sam-La Rose who will each share a poem of their own and one of Jacqueline’s sonnets. We also have recorded messages and readings from Ian McMillan and Naomi Shihab Nye.

Jacqueline Saphra is a poet, playwright and tutor based in London. All My Mad Mothers was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot prize and was followed by Dad, Remember You are Dead in 2019, both from Nine Arches Press. A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller (2017) and Veritas: Poems after Artemisia (2020) are both published by Hercules Editions.

Anja Konig grew up in the German language and now writes in English. Her first pamphlet Advice for an Only Child (Flipped Eye) was shortlisted for the 2015 Michael Marks award. Her first full collection Animal Experiments (Bad Betty Press) was selected as one of the best 2020 collections by the Daily Telegraph.

Miriam Nash is a poet, performer and educator. Her collection of poems All the Prayers in the House (Bloodaxe Books, 2017) won a Somerset Maugham Award and an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. Her latest book, TheNine Mothers of Heimdallr (Hercules Editions, 2020) is a giant, matriarchal re-telling of the Norse creation myth. She leads online poetry workshops at Lightkeepers.co.uk.

Jacob Sam-La Rose is a poet, editor, artistic director and educator, deeply invested in supporting emerging voices. His collection Breaking Silence (Bloodaxe Books)is required reading for an A’ level syllabus. He is a poetry professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, poet-in-residence for English Heritage, and directs the Barbican Young Poets programme.

Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet, songwriter, and novelist. She was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother. She began composing her first poem at the age of six and has published or contributed to over 30 volumes. Her works include poetry, young-adult fiction, picture books, and novels.

Ian McMillan is an English poet, journalist, playwright, and broadcaster. He is known for his strong and distinctive Yorkshire accent and his incisive, friendly interview style on programmes such as BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. He lives in Darfield, the village of his birth. You can donate to the Trussell Trust at our fundraiser page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraisin…

Thank you from Nine Arches Press and Jacqueline Saphra

PROMPT

I thought I would really struggle with this one and have already scribbled a few poems about the infrequent lockdown walks and decided I didn’t want any mention of caged freedoms. So in the end I sat quietly and not much time later had my AHA moment. A journey I did 100s of times in 2019. A journey which should take 5-10 mins and was taking me 30-40 at least means that the specific details of this route are well settled in my mind.

I just do what I have done for the past 30 days and freewheeled a poem out from somewhere. It has legs (which a poem about walking probably should) and after a bit of editing may shine up well.

I had great fun writing it.

Appreciate the bravery of the particular red

they have used to coat their front door.

ENJOY your last day of NaPoWriMo! YOU DID IT!

April 2021 Review of the Month

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Finally, a few weeks off, I plan my first walks this year in nature and some Easter eggs as well as settled down to the extremely long TO DO list and some writing, having missed deadlines for months! When the sun joins us, I shall enjoy the garden and I am looking forward to mornings which start after 6AM! It is also the beginning of the Spring/Summer Festival season and I have an international Book Launch reading, the second one in as many months. Also planning a workshop booked for next month. So lots of busy but also some much needed rest, recuperation and reconnection.

WEEK 1:

NaPoWriMo 2021 kicked off with some great resources. Every year AWF is a participating site and I try to post daily whilst following the month of prompts. I love NaPo and also get some decent poetry from it every year.

I tapered off on events at the end March, mainly due to workload, exhaustion and needing time offline. I proposed to do fewer this month so I could get some work done. The diary still looks very full!

The weekend was full of words. I listened to a panel craft talk from Chicago University ‘Literary Arts Lab’ on long form writing. It was interesting and inspiring with great insight and generous Q&A chaired by Rachel DeWoskin award-winning author of five novels: Someday We Will Fly (Penguin Random House, 2019); Banshee (Dottir Press, 2019); Blind (Penguin Random House, 2015); Big Girl Small (FSG, 2011); Repeat After Me (The Overlook Press, 2009); and the memoir Foreign Babes in Beijing (WW Norton, 2005) and Creative Writer Lecturer.

Ilya Kaminsky, Cathy Park Hong, Julie Iromuanya, Lina M. Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Rachel DeWoskin & Stephanie Soileau

Ilya Kaminsky is the author of the  widely acclaimed Deaf Republic (Graywolf, 2019), a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry, Poems from Deaf Republic were awarded Poetry magazine’s Levinson Prize and the Pushcart Prize.

Cathy Park Hong is an award-winning poet and essayist …she offers a fresh and honest perspective on race and Asian American identity, discusses how poetry and writing can be a means for understanding ourselves and our world, and comments on the ways politics and culture are influenced by art—and vice versa.

Julie Iromuanya is the author of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor (Coffee House Press), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the Etisalat Prize for Literature (now 9 Mobile Prize for Literature), and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize for Debut Fiction. 

Lina M. Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas is the author of Drown Sever Sing… Don’t Come Back is published by Mad River Books, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press (January 2017). Ferreira is a recipient of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award.

Rachel DeWoskin received a National Jewish Book Award, a Sydney Taylor Book Award, an American Library Association’s Alex Award, and an Academy of American Poets Award, among others. Two of her books, Foreign Babes in Beijing and Banshee, are being developed for TV. Two Menus, published by the University of Chicago Press’ Phoenix Poetry Series in 2020.

Stephanie Soileau‘s collection of short stories LAST ONE OUT SHUT OFF THE LIGHTS is forthcoming from Little, Brown & Co. in Summer 2020. Her work has also appeared in Glimmer Train, Oxford American, Ecotone, Tin House, New Stories from the South, and other journals and anthologies… has taught creative writing at the Art Institute of Chicago, Stanford University, the University of Southern Maine and the University of Chicago.

Photo by Magicbowls on Pexels.com

It was the one year anniversary for Food for Thought and we had a special session where we all read a poem written in sessions this year. This group was founded on the principles of poetry for healing and has been an exceptionally important group for me to be part of. I have been attending these sessions since 2020.

We were treated to the delights of Patrice’s playing her harp, readings and even squeezed in a one minute write. An exceptional evening which brought peace, tears and smiles. The emotional connection despite the screens and 1000s of miles between us, amazes me. We are bonded.

Huge gratitude to Judith Redwing Keyssar, Gayle Kojimoto and everybody in this group. What a year we have held each other in.

 Using poetry writing as self-care and explore our feelings, fears, and hopes…

Part of me feels I should have stayed in the glow of this event but I was intrigued to attend the Close Reading in a Virtual Space with Mónica de la Torre. This deep dive into Cesar Vallejo’s “XXXVI” came from NaPoWriMo Day 1 resources. It was an interesting discussion.

I spent most of the Easter Weekend offline reading, writing and researching poems. Rakaya Fetuga’s CARAF Centre Writing sessions have finished but the group enjoyed them so much they have carried on, each taking turns to lead. It was lovely to see them all again on Saturday. I will try to attend as often as I can. On Sunday I attended an event advertised by NaPoWriMo P&P Live Sandra Beasley & Teri Ellen Cross Davis sharing their new poetry collections.

Sandra Beasley is the author of four poetry collections, including I Was the Jukebox, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Theories of Falling, winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. Honors for her work include a 2015 NEA Literature Fellowship, the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize, the John Montague International Poetry Fellowship, and four DCCAH Artist Fellowships. She is also the author of the memoir Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Find her collection here.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/sandra-beasley

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of Haint, winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is a Cave Canem fellow and a member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. She has received fellowships to attend the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Squaw Valley Community of Writers Workshop and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her work can be read online and in many journals, including Academy of American Poets, Harvard Review, and Tin House. She is the Poetry Coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and her new collection, a more perfect Union, publishes this February.

Find her collection here.

https://poets.org/poet/teri-ellen-cross-davis

It was an enjoyable hour listening to two American poets not known to me.

If you missed it you can watch it here.

I spent Monday catching up with writing, being mentored, Beta reading and our final class with Tawnya Renelle where I tried out something completely different to anything I have ever done before! And Cafe Muse with Margaree Little and Joseph Ross.

https://www.margareelittle.com/

https://josephrossnet.wordpress.com/

I had a great night at the Poetry Bubble work on the theme of Freedom after Lockdown (which is still only imagined), saw Holly Wren Spaulding in conversation with Sejal Shah. WLF had SpeakEasy which was a great International night of poetry, I enjoyed Caleb Femi at Manchester Literature Festival.

WEEK 2:

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I was comfortably into my Easter break by the 2nd week of April, madly falling behind with NaPoWriMo prompts, attempting to get some new writing done and trying not to eat chocolate. I took some nature walks and read.

I had the joy of getting back to events with Sheffield Library and enjoyed another night at Poets Cafe Reading. I took part in a great NYC Public Library workshop with Ravi Shankar, one I thoroughly enjoyed. Cheltenham Poetry Festival Launched the Frosted Fire Firsts Prize Winner collections – David Luckens and Lee Potts. It was a wonderful evening. It clashed with ATG Arrival at Elsewhere NYC Launch – which I managed to catch a few readers at. Live from the Butchery was brilliant.

It was also Sierra Poetry Festival, I managed to attend a few events over the weekend.

Despite trying to cut back – I had a full week. NaPo is partly to blame with Live events included as readings this year. Don’t get me wrong I love NaPoWriMo.net and the resources I yield annually are worthy and often incredible, the poetry community embraced the online world at the start of the first Lockdown and it has brought many people joy and solace throughout this exceptionally hard time. It is only right to include online events – it’s just my diary was full already!

In writing this blog post I realised I just missed the John Godfrey NaPo Reading!

I enjoyed Cafe Writers and The Gathering – which Apples and Snakes organised on the back of the successful World Poetry Day events, Workshops with Jack Giaour & Arya Samuelson, Caleb Parkin at the Lyra Festival, the launch of the Poetry Review Spring Issue with and my introduction to the amazing power of Hanif Abdurraqib, a tour of the Emily Dickinson Collection at the Houghton Library and my 2nd workshop with Jericho Brown (which was the same as a the one he presented in last year).

WEEK 3

I finally caught up with NaPo, enjoyed the Lyra Poetry Festival and Seren Cardiff Poetry Festival (now in the 2nd year), I performed at the Walt Whitman Birthplace as part of a spectacular Book Launch. Over 35 poets who appear in the Corona An Anthology of Poems (Edited by Gayl Teller) read, it was well hosted by events director Caitlyn Shea and presented by Gayl Teller. There are some incredibly powerful poems included, as you can imagine and it was an emotional evening.

I look forward to receiving my copy.

I was one of the Guest Readers at Jenna Plewes’ wonderful launch of A Woven Rope. I also enjoyed the end of and then rewatched the whole Bloodaxe Launch with Dom Bury, Jenna Clake & Tishani Doshi. I went to a session about confessional poetry and enjoyed some sessions at the Creative Writing Spring Symposium with the University of Glasgow.

Week 4

I have been busy with a project and Napo which leaves a scant blogging schedule, I will do some Flashbacks for some of the experiences April has offered.

I had a workshop at the Lyra Festival with Malika Booker which came as a great gift/surprise from a friend. It was a wonderful workshop, I met Malika at Ledbury Poetry Festival some about 6 years ago. I have read her work, watch her read and tuned in to some seminar/ Q&As provided by Arts groups in 2020 but had not had the ABSOLUTE PLEASURE of writing under her guidance. Amazing experience! I caught a Denise Duhamel reading — having discovered her work during NaPoWriMo and missed her last 2 readings.


I finished the weekend with the lovely experience of Paul Francis’ book launch for Rescue From The Dark with Fair Acre Press. I will definitely write more as I owe a blog about another of the recent books from Fair Acre. It was a marvellous celebration.

I have attended readings and workshops at The Stay at Home Literary Festival – which is in the 2nd year and last year saved mine (and 1000s of others) 2020 lockdown. I also had the pleasure of Sue Burge’s Book Launch for Confetti Dancers (Live Canon), a Joy Harjo reading – I will never get enough of her work, a Natalie Diaz reading, a reading with Rita Dove and one with Claudia Rankine. A wonderful interview with Elizabeth Gilbert and most recently a wonderful reunion with Andrew Fusek Peters at a Yew Tree Press Showcase. We were treated to his incredible photography in his new book Flight, Imogen Harvey-Lewis treated us to her new books ink illustrated Lockdown experience, the clever use of words in her art really hit the points home, Diana Humphrey read from Remnants her brave new pamphlet touching on her experience of losing her daughter. These words will be helpful to many. And JLM Morton & Susie Hetherington marvellous pamphlet exploring nature which is an incredible product.

A lovely way to complete the month.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 29

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Day Twenty-Nine Click here for the full post

Today’s featured participants are Eunoia, where you’ll find a poem about dreams in response to Day 28’s question-based prompt, and My Author-itis, where you’ll find a short and witty response to the prompt.

Our featured daily reading is a pre-recorded one, which you can peruse whenever you like. It’s a video of Victoria Chang reading for Berry College in November of last year.

Prompt: this one is called “in the window.” Imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. What do you see? What’s going on?

Happy writing!

PROCESS NOTES:

Historically towards the end of Napo I get really sad this daily prompt/practise is coming to an end – but it’s unsustainable for any longer and as Maureen says in today’s post April will come again and so will NaPoWriMo – who knows maybe I will even start calling it GloMoWriMo by 2022…

As it is I have revelled in Napo this year as no paid work has come since the Easter break so I had a chance to lasso much needed dedicated writing time to make headway on projects and actually meet some deadlines. It was an impossible juggle earlier this Spring. So it has been a pleasure to immerse.

If you are feeling sad/withdrawal – may I suggest you plan/map out some writing time for May and continue. The resources Napo have provided this year are rich and you could easily spend 3-4 days sitting with one.

Photo by Cristian Rojas on Pexels.com

Last night I still hadn’t managed to get Prompt Day 28 completed but I had an approach in mind. So I started Day 29 finishing 28 – I have updated the post here with method and an extract.

I also (happily) managed to catch most of The Poetry Project in New York City with Arda Collins and Monica Youn, which was wonderful. There are several festivals online currently and Book Launches, yesterday I had a mammoth diary sheet – a couple of workshops and a handful of readings. I really thought I would be asleep, but was still working online when the event started so I joined and I am so glad I did. It was wonderful to discover these poets, I shall certainly be on the look out for Arda’s new book when it’s released (hopefully in time for my birthday list)!

I am however, relieved that today’s reading is a pre-recorded one especially as I have just half an hour of Napo time, this will be another chunked day approach.

I started with the featured poems. DO YOU HAVE DREAMS? was a great meditation on questions and I loved the invitation to answer one of the questions in the comment boxes below. Wow. Great idea. I had a great look about at Smitha V’s website. I love the bio:

A banker by profession, a blogger by choice, a poet by accident and an artist at heart.

I read and re-read the poem a few times. It’s hard to pick any part out – the questions need each other.

Do you have dreams?
What do you make of them?
Do you see them with your eyes open or closed?


The second featured poem was funny – it reminded me of this poem by Colin McNaughton.

I watched the Victoria Chang reading.


Berry College Creative Writing Reading Series

Nationally recognized poet Victoria Chang will read and discuss her poetry, offering context to each work. Sandra Meek will introduce the poet, establishing Chang’s importance in contemporary American poetry. A Q&A will follow the reading.

Victoria Chang’s poetry books include OBIT, Barbie Chang, The Boss, Salvinia Molesta, and Circle. Her children’s picture book, Is Mommy?, was named a New York Times Notable Book. Her middle grade novel, Love, Love was published by Sterling Publishing. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Sustainable Arts Foundation Fellowship, the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. She lives in Los Angeles and is the Program Chair of Antioch’s Low-Residency MFA Program. She also serves on the National Book Critics Circle Board.

I knew some of Victoria Chang’s work, I have read her poetry before but not for a while. I love her quote in this article in The Stanford Daily ‘I’m just playing with clay’: Victoria Chang on poetry and language. OBIT is something else!

I loved Friendships

Depression is a glove
over the heart.  Depression is an image
of a glove over the image of a heart.

and My Mother’s Teeth

I used to think that a dead person’s words die with them. Now I know that they scatter, looking for meaning to attach to like a scent. My mother used to collect orange blossoms in a small shallow bowl.

And Grief.

I was absorbed by the whole reading, make sure you give your ears and heart the experience today.

You can read a review of OBIT by Anne Graue here. Find out more, read and hear sample poems and extracts from many reviews and order your own copy from Copper Canyon Press.

Copper Canyon Press 2020

Another one for my birthday list.

Then I set about the prompt, which is another well used one (although it tends to be look out of the window – to which every poet internally groans and looks about the room in case it was audible), but the twist here is the imagined window and it’s looking in – which set my newly refreshed mind off in several directions (less painful than it sounds).

I scribbled my initial reactions down, to filter something more or maybe to go back and write next month…

I let the prompt sit with me for a while.

I scared myself slightly with the resulting poem, a dark thriller and had a great time on image searches. I have a packet to be going on with now, but for today just one poem. Here’s an extract, a tiny bit of interior action for you:

I caught her smile

as she unpeeled the corner edge of foil.

I can’t wait to see what other’s have made of this prompt. I shall have a good nose around tomorrow, now I am in the spirit of peering into windows.

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NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 28

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Day Twenty-Eight Click here to read the full post.

Our featured participants for the day are Dispellings, which brings us a poem loosely inspired by the word “onism,” and My Fresh Pages, where the poem for Day 27 is based on the world “occhiolism.”

Today’s daily reading is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 29 from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. eastern time. Poets Dina GatinaPolina Barskova, and Vlazhyna Mort will be reading from their work and discussing contemporary Russian women’s poetry with professor and translator Ainsley Morse.

Prompt: to write a poem that poses a series of questions. The questions could be a mix of the serious and humorous, the interruptive and the conversational. You can choose to answer them – or just let the questions keep building up, creating a poem that asks the reader to come up with their own answer(s).

Happy writing!

PROCESS NOTES:

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Today’s prompt… hmmm, questions in poetry? Discuss.

In true NaPo spirit I will do it. Finding out what questions I’ll ask will be fun anyway!

Whilst I ponder that I read the featured poems starting with Dispellings – which I found very atmospheric/cinematic.

the night train spills its guts

4 a.m kunming station iron jaws

the sky a steel plate stained with dawn

such brutal, industrial, stark imagery.

my pockets fill with starch of soggy maps

……. misery

of clogged concrete arteries

and the ending. WOW.

As I read it I had forgotten about the prompt entirely. when I looked back to the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (such a fabulous resource), I remembered this definition as it was one of the words I’d glanced over, onism. This was certainly captured by/in this poem.

The second featured poem is posted along with a definition of the chosen word. Rachel’s poem Occhiolism explores our perceptions and the irrelevance of them, how we are, unchanged.

It’s a gift you can’t exchange.

Every detail of your script
Makes a unique play,

And even managed to get the word occhiolism into the poem!

I looked at the reading event but know I won’t go, today I am attending so much I need to keep tomorrow fixed as it is with screen gaps and time offline. Once again it clashes with an-already-in-the-diary. I looked up the participants and read some poetry by Vlazhyna Mort and listened to ‘crossword’. Funnily enough one of the events this evening was the Poetry Society Lecture with Terrance Hayes and I have just realised Vlazhyna Mort was the previous speaker – I wasn’t available to attend… but this isn’t the first time Napowrimo has delivered a poet or poem and then I have found them or it making its way back into my line of sight/life.

I still have to write today’s poem – I am currently wearing my editor head – so it’s hard but I can feel the space at the back of my mind filling up with conversations as questions talk to each other.

PROMPT: UPDATED 29th April

I started by typing question into a search engine, during 2020 online quizzes soared in popularity as a way people could connect online and so did the internet for base material. I started at the Radio Times because I imagined their researchers would definitely have found the right answers and my initial idea, (a riff off a drama game) was to mismatch the sequence of Q&A.

I was aware that although what a poem is has a wide perimeter, I didn’t feel like a list of questions or a conversation of questions would get us there. I had spent the day with the prompt in mind playing with questions, scribbling a note of ones which came to me. I let my sleeping head play and this morning embarked on writing it.

It was actually fun to write this poem this morning – a conversation between human and AI. Despite not being a fan of questions in poems, I managed a whole string of them.

Another one for the humour cannon maybe (surely I am up to 10).

Which operating system does a Google Pixel phone us?

Dark Rum & Ginger Beer.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 27 The OFFICIAL prompt

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I was hoping it was a tech issue rather than a problem Maureen was experiencing and much to my relief, it was exactly that. So here is today’s official proper 2021 prompt for Day 27.

Day Twenty-Seven Click to read the full post.

Our featured participants today are A Writer Without Words – Some Motivation Required, who has re-written the lyrics to a song from Les Miserables to tell us the sad tale of a woman whose children demand all her chocolates, and Scrambled, Not Fried, where the lyrics to a patriotic song have been replaced with an homage to grammarians.

Today’s featured reading is a live event that will take place tomorrow, April 28, at 8 p.m. ET. Arda Collins and Monica Youn will be reading at The Poetry Project in New York City.

Prompt: I’d like to challenge you to write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows….. perhaps one of the sorrows will strike a chord with you.

Happy (well . . . sort of ) writing!

PROCESS NOTES: My Napo time is usually first thing so it may be tricky fitting it in now. Plus I did an extra prompt in lieu of today’s technical difficulties on the main site. So have already penned, in addition I have put the hours in on a current writing project too – so I won’t feel guilty about this stop-start approach & now I have managed to FINISH this post!

I also love Les Mis and know the songs well so was delighted to read In My Room By Candace Shultz, the first featured poem. The opening is brilliant and made me smile:

In my room

Hiding from the children

I consume

A giant bar of chocolate

Without them

Candace manages to carry the emotion of the original, somehow…

The world is less delicious

I’m still hungry and the children

Have chocolate on their faces

Brilliant!

My life will keep on going

But a world without some chocolate

Is one I’ve never known

Next I read God Bless Grammarians, the second featured poem. Another perfect parody.

So they’re careful what they say
God Bless Grammarians
(it’s ‘we’ not ‘they’)

I check the live reading which is 1 AM BST, so unlikely. I looked up the poets involved.

Arda Collins is the author of It Is Daylight (2009), which was awarded the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. Her forthcoming collection of poems will be published in 2022 by The Song Cave. She is a recipient of the Sarton Award in Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, A Public Space, Colorado Review, jubilat, and elsewhere. She teaches at Smith College.

Monica Youn is the author of Blackacre (Graywolf Press 2016), which won the William Carlos Williams Award of the Poetry Society of America. It was also shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Award, longlisted for the National Book Award, and named one of the best poetry books of 2016 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and BuzzFeed. Her previous book Ignatz (Four Way Books 2010) was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has been awarded the Levinson Prize from the Poetry Foundation, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Witter Bytter Fellowship from the Library of Congress, and a Stegner Fellowship among other honors. A former lawyer and a member of the Racial Imaginary Institute, she teaches at Princeton and in the MFA programs at NYU and Columbia.

© Academy of American Poets

I love the dictionary resources Maureen Thorson offers us during NaPoWriMo, one I will be coming back to again.

I chose a word which matches my current project and wrote a poem which a version of which may appear in this project.

Opened my door on the world again.

Changed, but alive.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 27

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I keep checking but there doesn’t seem to be a prompt today. I hope Maureen is okay. I have chosen to use Day 27 from 2013 NaPoWriMo instead (as I started a year later). I checked the links, they are still active. Enjoy!

Day 27 Click here for the full post (April 27th 2013)

Our poetry-related link today is to the Lit Pub, which publishes book “recommendations,” rather than book “reviews.”

Our participant’s link for the day is grapeling, where all of the poems are joined by one quality — similes and metaphors that really sing.

Prompt: Today, I challenge you to use the wondrous powers of the Internet to help you write. Think of a common proverb or phrase — something like “All that glitters is not gold,” or “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Plug the first three words of the phrase into a search engine. Skim through the first few pages of results, collecting (rather like a poetic magpie) words and phrases that interest you.

Use those words and phrases as the inspirations for a new poem.

Happy writing!

PROCESS NOTES:

Even though the official prompt has now been posted I thought I should rattle on with this substitute one I posted for today (from 2013). I spent some time looking through Lit Pub and read one review:

Jan 21 The Body Remembers: A Review of Jeannine Ouellette’s The Part That Burns
Bianca Cockr
ell.

I then read the featured poem and this link will take you to their poem for today.

The first thing I had to do was choose a phrase. I went for ‘a blessing in disguise’ – which didn’t actually have enough words to randomly choose 3.

Next step hit the search engine with blessing in disguise.

‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ gives a few more key search words but most are only 2-4/5 words long. I went with the 1st search knowing it would throw back a list of definitions, my poem would make use of. So I started to gather. I collected some images as well and created a little document/mood board. I was also taken back to Anthony Wilson’s website and a John Ashbury’s poem from Rivers and Mountains – A Blessing in Disguise (Ashbury was featured a day or so ago in NaPoWriMo). I unearthed a quotation from 18th Century poet -James Hervey and found that this idiom originated in the 1700s! So even before I set to write a poem for this prompt I felt full, satisfied and happy.

I have a short time slot before my next online event so I am going to use a lot of copy & paste in the construction of this poem. A Found poem.

^^ So I thought – poetry has a mind of its own. As I was compiling my subconscious was ordering and the result was a list poem extracted from examples and reasons from jpegs and dictionary definitions. So not Found poetry or erasure but a brand new build!

Poetry Lego! <That should be a thing! I am fairly happy with the result:

Temporary defeat feeds flowers,

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 26

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Day Twenty-Six Click here to read the post in full.

Today’s featured participants are Barbara Turney Wieland, who has brought us a happy, snappy poem sprinkled with daisies, and Manja Mexi Mexcessive, whose poem about the not-so-normal process of trying to get back to normal!

Our featured daily reading is pre-recordedBrenda Shaughnessy reading for the Chicago Humanities Festival back in 2013.

Prompt: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a parody. Besides being fun, writing parodies can be a great way to hone your poetic skills – particularly your sense of rhyme and sound, as you try to mimic the form of an existing poem while changing the content.

If you’d like to get some inspiration, consider some poems that Lewis Carroll included in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which parody the moralistic verse of Isaac Watts. “The Crocodile” is a send-up of Watts’ “How Doth the Little Busy Bee,” while “Tis the Voice of the Lobster” is a parody of Watts’ poem “The Sluggard.” Or, for a briefer and more whimsical poem, consider “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat,” which is a parody of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Happy writing!

PROCESS NOTES:

I had a MAMMOTH NaPoWriMo catch up this morning. Penned a fair few poems and watched several readings. I thoroughly enjoyed today’s reading and discovering the poetry of Brenda Shaughnessy. A NEW FAN here!

I loved revisiting Barbara’s website today. it’s a daisy day!

…. each tiny central golden sun

will remind you, petal, you’ve only just begun

I appreciated the references to the daisy at the end. Particularly the old Celtic Legend:

God sprinkled daisies over the earth to cheer people from grief.

And the second featured poem Liberation Day which is one that will resonant with all of us:

I have a coloured spreadsheet 
with 30 pages and 1000 destinations. 



Today, to celebrate, 
we are going to the big supermarket by the lagoon. 
Crossing the border a day early.

And the photographs taken on the walk are sunshiny joy!

I have experienced Manja’s beautiful blog before *I think I may have discovered it on a previous NaPo year. This was a great way to start the day (even though I actually started today in Day 22 and worked through my gaps from there)!

Before I watched the reading today I read some of Brenda’s incredible poems on the Poetry Foundation website. As I already mentioned I loved today’s reading and discovering a new-to-me poet.

Chicago Humanities Festival

Ever since her debut collection “Interior with Sudden Joy” and follow-up “Human Dark With Sugar,” poet Brenda Shaughnessy’s taut and dazzling words have undone us. “Our Andromeda” is her latest volume. Invoking both constellation and Greek mythology, its poems center on a mother and poet. In language that is sharp and sly, wrenching and wry, she grapples with the gulf between expectations and reality in the worlds of motherhood, poetry, and art.

Join Shaughnessy, a professor of English at Rutgers University and the poetry editor-at-large of Tin House, for a reading and conversation about her work. This program was recorded on October 20, 2013 as part of the 24th annual Chicago Humanities Festival.

I particularly enjoyed At the Book Shrink and Vanity and the Q&A afterwards.

As for the prompt – I have only ever written one parody and I was at a loss as to where to go for base material. In the end I went to the Poetry Foundation and closed my eyes and randomly picked a poem. Still Life with Summer Sausage A Blade and No Blood by VIEVEE FRANCIS. It was an interesting exercise but I don’t feel I have chosen a poem a parody will add anything to here. I will look out for some perfect parody material and try again in the future.

……. She gave me some winter berries,

on a spoon. I pulled the raspberries

out first.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 25

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Day Twenty-Five Click here to read the full post.

Our featured participants for the day are Sunra Rainz, who gives us a poem in which sorrow and other minor-key feelings become flying insects, and Paula Aamli, who has turned rage into a strange, burrowing parrot.

Today’s featured reading is a pre-recorded one, a video showing selections from two poetry readings given by John Ashbery and Barbara Guest, both associated with the “New York School” of poetry, in the mid-1990s.

Our prompt is to write an “occasional” poem, a poem suited to, or written for, a particular occasion. This past January, lots of people who usually don’t encounter poetry got a dose when Amanda Gorman read a poem at President Biden’s inauguration. And then she followed it up with a poem at the Superbowl.

Happy writing!

PROCESS NOTES:

I was delighted to see someone I know had their poem featured today, I met N. Nazir at poetry events over Lockdown 1 and spent a large time this morning and afternoon reading through her blog.

Today I had an off-screen-almost-day. I had a festival event, meeting and Book Launch. I have fallen behind with Napo a little over the past few days. But wasn’t worried as I had some time carved out today (Monday 26th) to play catch up.

I started over with the featured poems, starting on Sunra Rainz with Luminous Diptera. I loved the opening stanzas:

Sorrow is the most efficient light-producing entity in the world. 
Its luciferous quality communicates with other woes
and their similar dance steps attract each other.

Despair flies around with its unique firework display 
while calculation sits perched on a branch waiting 
for its own particular brand of ache to arrive.

and these lines, which rest, settle and linger:

Some despairs synchronise their flashing patterns to attract more calculations 

Each sorrow has its own particular colour. 

The fascinating thing is that sorrows have their own language. 

The base text/ information (from several sources David Attenborough, Planet Earth, BBC, National Geographic and Ecowatch.com) is cleverly weaved into this poem.

I listened again to the second feature poem Rage is the thing with wings by Paula Aamli, which also cleverly reimagines the original text and I realise both poets have exchanged concrete for emotion, whereas I chose concrete for a different noun. This does effect the outcome or effectiveness of the prompt and is one I shall maybe revisit.

Again, this poem has a striking opening:

Rage is a real oddity.
Rage is nocturnal and solitary.

Rage often leaps from trees
And flaps its wings,
But at best can only manage
A controlled plummet.

and the ending… omph!

Rage has no close relatives.

Grief and anger are the only species
With which rage might be confused.

I know a little about the New York School of poets. I listened to today’s reading as I found watching old video footage from the mid-90s a bit of a strain (although I appreciated the jazzy intro music and the work videographer Mitch Corber put in).

I hadn’t read any of Barbara Guest‘s work before and thoroughly enjoyed her reading.

Poets John Ashbery and Barbara Guest recite in New York City in the mid-’90s, captured by videographer/poet Mitch Corber. Ashbery performs in the intimacy of Chelsea bookstore Verso Books, while Guest entertains us at the St. Marks Poetry Project.

Find out more on the New York School of Poets – First generation poets / Second generation poets.

I had already enjoyed Amanda Gorman’s reading many times in January, when it was made, but I watched her again.

Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, read an original work at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. After Biden was sworn in as the nation’s 46th president, Gorman read “The Hill We Climb,” building on a tradition of poets — including Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco — who have read for incoming Democratic presidents. Gorman is the youngest of these inaugural poets to offer her verse.

I knew she had read at the Superbowl but hadn’t seen it.

And a day late, I wrote my own occasion poem.

And it almost feels

you could be the answer

to all of this.