NaPoWriMo Day 11 – Unleashing Counter Protest Poetry


Day 11 – I was super busy and had time to look at the prompts and not write any poetry. So this is the first day of NaPo that I failed to write my poem a day – this happens. It happens to most people embracing the challenge, maybe the poetry that comes today will be stronger having lingered in my head for 24 hours.

Yesterday I spent the morning making an Easter Promotion video for Fragile Houses (better than an egg), reading proof copy, organising festival events and writing blurb for programmes. In the afternoon I went to Swindon with Rick Saunders (Willis the Poet) to watch him Headline at Oooh Beehive, Clive Oseman & Nick Lovell’s Spoken Word Night. Other Headliners were Aaron Samuel (who has been in the game for just 4 short months and is AMAZING) and Bryony Vine – both of whom were spotted by Clive and Nick at Milk Poets. It was a great night!

Totally forgiving myself for not writing poetry.

Let’s step back in time…


Our featured participant for the day is Unassorted stories, where the poem for Day 9 is a portrait of a mental makeover.

Today, we’re also featuring a 1962 interview with Sylvia Plath. In popular culture, Plath is known for three things: (1) she wrote angry poems, (2) she killed herself, and (3) teenage girls who feel angry and a little gothy read her to feel angrier and a little gothier. But look a little further, and you’ll find a deeply philosophical poet, a master of unusual similes that set the reader rocking back on their heels, and a refuser of obvious or comfortable ideas, particularly about motherhood, femininity, and the reality of existing in a physical body. There’s a lot to learn from her densely layered, uncompromising verse. Looking for a few examples of her work beyond those poems you might have already seen? Here’s one, and another, and another.

And last but not least, here’s our (optional) prompt for the day: the Bop. The invention of poet Afaa Michael Weaver, the Bop is a kind of combination sonnet + song. Like a Shakespearan sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition. In the basic Bop poem, a six-line stanza introduces the problem, and is followed by a one-line refrain. The next, eight-line stanza discusses and develops the problem, and is again followed by the one-line refrain. Then, another six-line stanza resolves or concludes the problem, and is again followed by the refrain. Here’s an example of a Bop poem written by Weaver, and here’s another by the poet Ravi Shankar.


Yesterday I got as far as reading the examples and writing out my frame. Today I sat down to write my first ever Bop. My first attempt worked technically and was something I needed to write out of myself. It stands as a poem, but didn’t say enough. Then I thought back to recent events in Birmingham. The EDL marched on the city and one of my friends was racially abused. I wanted to write about that. Go Back Home

Saffiyah Khan’s photo (smiling at protestors as she stepped in to defend a woman who was surrounded) has gone viral, I watched a video interview with her yesterday and the whole thing needs to be united against. It seems to me the Bop is a perfect form for such a political statement. So I set back to my page again.

Saffiyah Khan Birmingham Mail

I am working on a re-write and depending on whether I bag an open mic slot at HOWL tonight, might share it with the city.

Our multi-cultural city stands united.


Carrie Etter’s prompt was to describe an image in 2-5 lines and use this as the end of the poem and work back from there.

I wrote about the image of Saffiyah Khan

edl The Independent

The Independent © 2017

Fighting against this dark veil

shrouding Centenary Square.

I think it is important for people to know that there were Unity Rallies, Counter Protestors and demonstrations, like the tea party held at the Mosque. 300 attended that, there were 50 EDL members. The protest was originally planned for the East Midlands, but moved to Birmingham after the Westminster attacks.

Saffiyah was not a counter-protestor, she was just in the city and came to this woman’s aid. Stepped in where others looked on.

I was not there – I was in the city in 2014 when the EDL came, I was performing at an event at the Library for Birmingham Literature Festival, an event that one poet pulled out of because her skin was the wrong colour that day. I was afraid and I was inside the library. Saffiyah states she wasn’t being brave, but it takes a lot to stand up like this. Look how straight her back is!

Jo Bell shares Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullThe Poetry School gave us Day 11: Old English Day

Old English or Anglo-Saxon verse is fascinating and powerful. To write in a typical Anglo-Saxon way, you need:

·         lines with 4 stresses (though it doesn’t matter how many feet, i.e. your line can be as short as ‘Hold. Stay! Hold, hold!’ or as long as you want providing it only has 4 stresses)
·         an optional central caesura or pause between stress 2 and 3
·         alliteration of 3 of the 4 stress words (this doesn’t have to be on the first syllable if the stress is on a later syllable, e.g. although would alliterate on ‘th’).

It’s all very flexible though. If you want to alliterate 2 of the words, or all 4, or you want to skip your caesura, that’s absolutely fine. Sound complicated? It’s not! You’ll soon get the hang of it and it’s a very natural, flowing way to write.

It’ll all be much easier with an example few lines from Simon Armitage’s translation of ‘Gawain’ (which is actually a Middle English revival of the alliterative style). The stresses are indicated in bold.

as he heaped his hair to the crown of his head,
the nape of his neck now naked and ready.
Gawain grips the axe and heaves it heavenwards,

A longer extract can be found here


NaPoWriMo Day 10 – 1/3 Of The Way Through



With a busy day ahead, I got my NaPo writing in early today. The prompts I follow from NaPoWriMo and Carrie Etter both feature people and I have enjoyed writing about Mr G and my newest nephew.

I cannot believe today we are all one third of the way through this year’s NaPoWriMo. Congratulations, that is a huge achievement.

Our featured participant today is Whimsygizmo’s Blog, where the nine-line poem for Day Nine tells us how to capture the moon!

Today’s interview is with former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. She has written four books of poetry, including Native Guard, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007, and a book of creative non-fiction, Beyond Katrina. Trethewey’s work draws from both her own family history and the history of the Gulf Coast where she was born. You can find a selection of her poems here.

poetry foundation

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you. It doesn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, as what they are or were. If you need inspiration, here’s one of my favorite portrait poems. © 2017


For this prompt I chose a holiday snap of Mr G and just started freewriting, I was trying to focus on the telling of the person rather than describing the photograph. I managed a short poem but found most ideas were coming just as one or two lines.

So, in the end I wrote a Haiku. I am unlikely to submit this little love poem anywhere, for the first time this year you can have the full poem.

You Look Away

Your eyes are speaking,

one raised eyebrow sends me love,

perfect half smile lips.

Carrie Etter’s prompt encourages a 2nd person poem where the ‘you’ addressed is a specific person.

I wrote about my nephew and his new tricks. It was an easy write that flowed and will need to be edited but it has legs.

‘Your new trick is aeroplane arms…

you twist your neck like an owl baby

send me another smile.’

Jo Bell posted A Blade of Grass by Brian Patten. a discussion about the poem and lazy critics.

Ultimately, nothing we write about captures the importance of the thing itself. The signifier never quite attains to the power of the signified. Jo Bell © 2017

The Poetry School 58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullask for a letter poem and leave some fine examples. I know Bobby Parker and had the pleasure of meeting/hearing Melissa Lee-Houghton last week at the Worcester University reading at The Hive.

Dear poets,

Melissa Lee-Houghton is currently running a course on the epistolary poem for The Poetry School. As she has said, “sometimes all we need to be able to write the thing we most need to write is to know who it is we must write to”.

But it’s the young British poet Bobby Parker (whose latest book bears a cover endorsement from Melissa) who we’ve chosen as an example. See Heroin Lullaby (or Open Letter To My Wife Upon Our Separation).
Or, for something a little less intense, have a look at Elizabeth Bishop’s Letter to NY:

Ali Lewis © 2017

Happy writing!

NaPoWriMo Day 9 Prompts & Poetry


Well after an epic morning writing the gaps I am finally back on track with prompts for NaPoWriMo.


Here is what is on offer over at

Our featured participant for the day is Ordinary Average Thoughts, the repetition poem.

Today, our interview is with Thomas Lux. When he passed away earlier this year, he was the author of twenty books of poetry. Known for his sardonic verse (titles of his books include Pecked To Death By Swans and Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy), Lux taught for many years at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, as well as in other writing programs around the country. Find examples of his poems here and here.

poetry foundation

Finally, here is our prompt (optional, as always). Because today is the ninth day of NaPoWriMo, I’d like to challenge you to write a nine-line poem.

I wrote a very personal poem so I won’t post any snippets here. I am not sure it is one I can do anything with. So I set about writing more and after two false starts caught a poem that went somewhere.

‘…scared to ruin what is precious…

…time does not lace… with its trace…’

Carrie Etter’s prompt leaves me with a lump in my throat before I even attempt pen to paper. Writing about loss. Writing about the month of loss and listing all the horrible things about the month then revealing in the endline that this was the month of loss. I am thinking of a friend who died, who I miss dearly.

I came back to writing this a while later, an incredibly short poem of 10 lines. Powerful, going somewhere.

…frost grieved evenings…

snow bleached hospital sheets…

November took you to that colourless place.

Jo Bell under a post called leaping greenly, gives us an untitled poem by EE Cummings.

In her post she shares the EE Cummings poem that first got her into poetry (thank goodness, a poetry world without Jo in it would be a poorer place). At 17 she wrote out the last two verses, Jo writes It can be explained, just as happiness can be explained as a ratio of endorphins – but that’s not the point of either poetry or happiness.

Which made me smile.

I am a Cummings fan and this was an insightful read. Enjoyed spending some time with Cummings.

Over at The Poetry School 58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullcalls for a response poem.

Day 9: Response poem

Morning all. Today’s challenge is a response poem: argue against, agree with, re-write, or converse with someone else’s poem. The difficulty, of course, lies in making your poem stand up on its own. © The Poetry School 2017 


NaPoWriMo Day 9 The BIG Cook Up


Sometimes we use Sundays to do a bulk cook, as we have time and space to do so. Today the sun is shining and I have been awake since 6 a.m. I am writing (not continually), I am writing the gaps of prompts I skipped and days I missed due to writing off prompt.


I have so far written every day but not all poems follow the prompts, they don’t have to.

A lingering prompt – and by that, I mean a prompt I have not been able to get my teeth into came on Day 6 – a poem that looks at the same thing from various points of view. I think my main issue is finding the pinnacle event to hang the poem on. I tried watching a video of a Barrista at work (inspired by my 2nd coffee of the day). I made notes for 15 minutes and then wrote the poem. There are 5 different points of view but I am still not convinced it works. I will crack this prompt but I think I will surrender and let it come to me.


I played with Carrie Etter’s 6th prompt – choosing 5 out of 6 words. I started by listing synonyms and then during a search engine enquiry copied some bad rap lyrics and created a found poem. It is a thin poem, the longest line is 3 words and most lines are just a word. I am delighted with the result. I feel it is a full, proper poem and is unlike any of my writing. It has rhythm and packs a lot of story into very few words. I can imagine it would be fun to perform.

Once I wrote this, I went back to my word list and wrote 2 incredibly short poems and a haiku.


I missed number 7 on Carrie’s list too – which was a 20 line (or fewer) poem on ‘Flights of Fancy’, this is the theme for Bradford on Avon’s poetry competition which Carrie Etter is judging this year.  My poem ran to 16 lines and was a cathartic experience. Post break-up travel plans, a trip taken 15 years ago to heal a broken heart.


I revisited prompt for Day 8 – using repetition, again a prompt that carried a struggle in the ideas department. On Elizabeth Bouquet’s blog she wrote about her students – and I thought that could be a way in but only got as far as ‘She had some pupils…’ before I started thinking about eyes and the entire thing collapsed!

Then I finally cracked it and wrote my 2nd ever poem about shoes. I have a great love for shoes and handbags.

She had some shoes once, bought in Paris, never worn.

I feel chuffed that I managed to crack this poem. I am finally on track for Day 9.


Today I have time to browse and read other blogs, other NaPo poetry now I have written mine up to date and finally I think I may need to type up the work so far, 28 poems. Some are just 3 lines, haikus, freewrites and splurges, a few are fully formed and ready to serve. I like a couple. ALL are poems I would never have written without NaPoWriMo!

Today I revisited Elizabeth Boquets ‘Oaks to Acorns’ blog, to read her Napo poem for Day 6, what I found was a body of work, beautiful poems (that I now give myself permission to read) from the first week of prompts.

It is a good job I am not currently working on submissions, my festival event organising needs to step up a gear and I need to work on that and I have taken most of the past week off from performing, in fact I took the whole week off, went to readings instead.

Here I am in Day 9 and ready to face the prompts – emerging from a morning write that yielded 6 poems!

frugal cafe creative commons champers

NaPoWriMo Day 8 – a non-writing day


This title is misleading and of course, not true. I have written today – I have just used yesterday’s prompts and plan to use today’s prompts later when today will in fact be tomorrow, time machine anyone?

After being out all day, with weather at 20+degrees and sunny, an evening of socialising and a mini-napo catch up from no social media/digital outlet Friday night… writing 2 poems yesterday, was enough. So I have found myself a day behind. This always happens – don’t panic if it has happened to you.


  • Accept it  
  • Move on

That’s it folks, simple! Remember it is meant to be an adventure/ fun/ pleasurable… when the fun stops, stop (as the gambling adverts suggest). Seriously, writing under pressure is something many of us do from time to time, this long-haul process of daily writing time is a tough enough challenge without making yourself all grizzly at the same time and it won’t open the writing up to you, only make you bitter.

I did manage a surf and found all the relevant prompts for Day 8 today too, reading them let’s the subconscious do some pot stirring on that old back burner whilst I get on living.


^ See, FUN!

The featured participant for the beginning of Week 2 is Summer Blues, the interviewee for the day is Dorothea Lasky. Her poems can be found here.

Today’s prompt was to write a poem… that relies on repetition. It can be repetition of a phrase, or just a word. Need a couple of examples? Try “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe, or Joy Harjo’s “She Had Some Horses”

Carrie Etter is judging the Bradford on Avon Festival Poetry Competition this year, the theme is Flight of Fancy and there is a line limit, so today she suggested we write to that remit.

… she lost her world, entirely,

… she let go of the ground of vows…

Jo Bell posted Inland by Edna St. Vincent Millay and a discussion about rhyme and language.

More repetition over at The Poetry School.

Day 8: Anaphora or Refrain

We want poems that use repetition. We want poems that use the same words, or wording, repeatedly. We want such repetition to drive home a point. What do we want that point to be? Up to you.

Gwendolyn Brooks’ iconic poem We Real Cool is just 24 words long, but is still a masterclass in repetition. Read it here:

You should also take a look at Tony Hoagland’s I Have News For You.

I will leave you with some advice/ insight/ knowledge (call it what you will), that I posted this evening to a Napo poet:

Nobody can write 30 stunning poems in 30 days unless all they are doing is writing. We are lucky if we produce one stunner in a year. Try not to judge. The process of writing is the key. End results come later, much later… In my previous annual Napo experience you may be rewarded with 4 decent poems but you will have embarked on a committed time writing & will be processing for months to come!

You are in WEEK 2 – Hurrah! Just KEEP GOING!


NaPoWriMo Day 7 – A Week Under the Belt and a Write Fit for a King!


WOW – well done to everyone completing NaPoWriMo – you have made it to the end of the 1st week, only 3 more to go!


I did not manage to post yesterday as I had to go and collect my car after work and then we had a bonfire in the garden because we finally catch a glimpse of Summer here in the UK. I DID manage to write though. Epically in fact.

Day 7 – Although I had chance to check during a break at work, I did not have a chance to manage any notes or thoughts, so when I got home (finally) after being reunited with my poorly, now better car and parting with my extra earnings at the garage, I was ready for sun, garden, drink… in that order. I took my notebook out to the garden and started to write on the Carrie Etter prompt from Day 6, as my Day 6 prompts had been overturned with car rant writing.

The bitter/angry something else poem was still related to cars… an attempt at underwriting the real story into the scenario of 2 people playing chicken. I wrote an initial one about an item of clothing being stolen but I don’t think that idea brought enough anger to the surface.

… she has lived this nerve on the wire many lives before…

It was a fairly dark piece of writing which has honestly only given me about 4 useable lines, but one I have earmarked to revisit post NaPo.

I then made notes from prompt 7 was all about luck and fortuitousness, that’s a mouthful in itself. I didn’t write anything other than my notes, I completed the list of items, places and lost and found before we started the bonfire and then took my book inside, in fear it would set itself alight!

Today I have been running around since this morning and when I first got home, I went to join Mr G in the sun in the garden. Now I have opened my notebook to finish two prompts the NaPo from yesterday and also I still have Day 6, 13 different ways to look at… I have put this on the back burner as I am still seeking ideas to thread this one onto.

So back to the Napo prompt – there are 4 things I needed to incorporate and by the time that was done, it was a long poem. At some point the narrative turned more free-flow and retold the story. I have started writing in 3rd person over the past few days. It is something I won’t re-read straight away but is brimming with ideas and possibilities.

I am not sure of the fortune, I think my write is imbalanced with misfortune, the lost item carrying more weight than the found item or the original object which was the crux of the poem. Central theme. Maybe this is because the lost item was also mentioned in an introductory exercise at Verve, Sarah Howe’s Poetry Workshop. The idea that has resurfaced several times since February, bubbling away on that busy back-burner.

Her daughter magpied all the silver rings on velvet beds…

She learns what is made, does not last forever.

I enjoyed submerging myself in this writing. Not letting the pen stop. Generally this is the way I write, but not usually with the density of this sitting. I have 4 pages to churn through.

napo2017button1 Day 7 prompts from around the net.

The featured participant was Smoke Words Every Day with a multiple-viewpoints poem from Day 6.

The interview was with Li Young Lee, read it here, poems can be read here

The prompt came from Elizabeth Boquet. Write a poem about luck and fortuitousness


Read poems here

Finally, our prompt for the day (optional as always) comes to us from Elizabeth Boquet.

Create the following lists:

1. List – 3 random objects. (Smaller tends to be better.)
2. List – 3 random but specific locations. (Think in the cookie jar, or under my seat…)
3. List – 2 objects you’ve lost and a few notes on their back-story.
4. List – 2 objects you’ve found and few notes on their back-story.

Now, choosing an object from List 1, a location from List 2, and connect them in a poem with ideas from Lists 3 & 4 and Voilà! A fortuitous poem!

There was a finished example, a poem called State of Grace, which I have not yet read as my approach is to work on writing from my own soul first and delve back into the riches of other people’s poems after. You can read Elizabeth’s poem here

Carrie Etter has a list of 30 prompts to be attempted in any order (I am methodically driving myself through them… is the car still on my brain), today’s prompt was a word list. Using 5 of the 6 given words, I am yet to attempt this one.

I am enjoying the community interaction of her group during NaPoWriMo.

Back in 2013 I discovered NaNoWriMo, the main event and the Spring/Summer camps. What I miss is the camp, the community. I love the fact that NaPoWriMo is what it is and there is no huge forum to get involved in (as it does drain the writing time) – having said that sharing this experience beyond blogs is rich in itself. There are plenty of ideas and conversations floating around and that buzz that the solidarity of writing rarely affords.

It is FUN – and that is the whole idea of this challenge.

Jo Bell posted BEATTIE IS THREE by Adrian Mitchell.

I read it today, a day late and having just visited a new little member of my family already had ‘awww’ mode on high alert.

This is a great example of the depth a poem can contain in very few words.

58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfull The Poetry School, which I really hope to get my teeth into in the 2nd week of NaPo now my own school has broken up for Easter, is another great hub and a place that offers peer feedback on Napo writes posted The Ode. It has been many years since I wrote an Ode.

Sharon Olds (who has been on my radar since Swindon Poetry Festival Autumn 2016) is the featured poet. Her work seems to have established a marmite reaction amongst my poetry peers, but once you hear her voice I think reading her work becomes easier to understand in technique. I have enjoyed most of what I have read of Olds so far.

We (a group of poets) were talking about ‘Stags Leap’ only last weekend. Thank you, universe of strange coincidence!

In modern usage, an ode is simply a poem in praise of, or dedicated to – well, anything! We’re not looking for a classical ode with a strophe, antistrophe, and epode – just a verse or two singing the praises of an object, person, place, feeling or something else entirely. If you can, try and choose something unusual, or something that not everyone sees as positive. (It’s also a good form for irony and sarcasm.) © 2017 The Poetry School

‘Ode of Broken Loyalty’ by Sharon Olds is the example

Nina Lewis

Well done we are a quarter of the way there, I hope your poetry books are filling up with ideas and treasures to feed your writing for the rest of the year.

NaPoWriMo Day 6 – Adventure & Adversity


Well… you know those days that don’t go according to plan… sometimes they can make a poem and other times just a bad day for poetry.

My car window got stuck open and all my after work plans unravelled as I took a tour of local garages. In the end I had to drive to my old hometown and regular garage as they could offer me a motor to get to work tomorrow and somewhere dry and secure for my car overnight!

The loan is a honking great beast and takes full concentration to drive, so any sifting poetry thoughts were well and truly lost when I arrived home about an hour ago and had to master a parallel park!

I am not in the right frame of mind at the moment to start writing although I have managed two car fuelled poems along the lines of prompt. I feel I need to give myself the space to write this evening.

I cannot wait for the next fortnight when my life can pull down a gear and my writing time can reach points of abundance.


Today’s featured site Blimey Rhymies a Napo poem billed as Mary Oliver-inspired poem for Day Five reads a bit like Mary Oliver as reinterpreted by Edward Lear with a side of Lemony Snicket… got my attention as a must read!

Today’s interview is with Alex Dimitrov Read his poetry here

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that looks at the same thing from various points of view. The most famous poem of this type is probably Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. You don’t need to have thirteen ways of looking at something – just a few will do!

Carrie Etter’s prompt was to Write an angry, bitter poem to someone who has wronged you, but instead of relating the events or the wrong autobiographically, think of what could metaphorically represent that same event and write about that instead.

My poem today – despite all the car trouble was not really angry or bitter, I kind of followed the idea of different ways of looking at something ( but really today, I think I just wrote several car rants.

…I do not even mind the dashboard of humming bugs,

… I learn, using the Air Conditioning is not expensive, after all.

Jo Bell encourages us to read Philip Larkin (one of my favs), fell in love with him during G.C.S.E English Literature!

Best Society by Philip Larkin and a good discussion/explanation of rhyme/rhyming schemes.

Over at the Poetry School the prompt is ritual and habit (about 20 years ago I learnt if you repeat an act 27 times it becomes a habit).


Your poem today should include a habit or ritual of some kind; it can be as grand as a religious observance or as small as the way someone you know squeezes their toothpaste. Your example poem today is Raising a Glass with My Old Man, by Mauricio Rosencof, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.

Lots to get my teeth into once I stop them from clenching over the thought of the imminent garage bill!

red mini


NaPoWriMo Day 5


For the first time since the start of NaPo I have found myself time limited. I am following four different prompt areas this month and tend to write from two sources. This means that my NaPo poetry has already reached double figures.

Today whilst at work I considered the nature prompt from NaPoWriMo, I made some notes hoping to work on a poem this evening.

I was too tired to concentrate when I first got home, then fell asleep. I have an idea that is bubbling in my head and would like to form a poem before bed. However, I know that this is the only prompt/poem I will create today. Carrie Etter’s prompt is a prose poem and that is a style I tend to steer clear of. I will attempt it at some point but also like the idea of stashing documents of prompts away to face later in the year. So I will forgive myself and move on if I don’t take the prose prompt. NaPo is all about forgiveness, I learnt that the first year I tried it. It is my 4th year doing this crazy poem-a-day thing.

allotment 2

© A.Cooke 2013

I was excited when I saw Mary Oliver on today’s Napo thread. I bought her book ‘ A Poetry Handbook’ at the tail end of 2013, my year of learning.

The featured poet came from the Enigma prompt

The interview was with Mary Oliver

Read her poetry here

poetry foundation

And the reason for the allotment photo… the prompt was about an experienced nature, (I didn’t actually write about the allotment, despite having a mini series of allotment poems).

In honor of Mary Oliver’s work, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is based in the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. But it should be about a slice of the natural world that you have personally experienced and optimally, one that you have experienced often. Try to incorporate specific details while also stating why you find the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful. © 2017


My poem was about flowers. It mentions radial patterns and US Airlines following spoke and hub routes…

It is yet to define itself as a poem!

Carrie Etter’s Prompt was to write a prose poem.

The Poetry School Day 5: The Aubade (touches of 52). An aubade is a poem addressing the break of day. A traditional aubade often featured the parting of lovers, but yours doesn’t have to. It also doesn’t have to be an ode to the morning; morning can arrive quite gently or tangentially in your poem — but it has to be there. Two example poems today, neither of which is remotely traditional (after all, you all know Larkin’s ‘Aubade’ already, don’t you?).
Carl Phillips: Aubade: Some Peaches, After Storm
Ocean Vuong: Aubade with Burning City

© The Poetry School 2017

Jo Bell (encouraging a month of reading) posted NaPoReMo (National Poetry Read(ing) Month), Song by Adrienne Rich.

Be inspired (I’ve got poetry to go and write) x


NaPoWriMo Day 4 – Back at Work Challenge


NapoWriMo brought with it the challenge of working today and still managing a write. Fortunately, I have learnt from the best and always have a carry around notebook about my person. So in a break I used it and got some notes of ideas down, which I later worked into my first poem of the day.


I tackled Carrie Etter’s prompt first today which was to do with writing in fragments, contrasting the concrete with the abstract. The notebook itself was perfect for this as it holds many random thoughts, unfinished and fragmented in nature.

  1. I opened the notebook randomly and scribbled down the first 5 lines I saw. All from disassociated notes.
  2. Next I went in search of concrete images.
  3. Then abstract.

In the end I had three concrete images and lots of interesting lines of text.

At the end of work, I sat down with these scribbles and attempted to freewrite a poem. It became one of those poems that was still going somewhere but not clearly, so I (in the style of 52) lost the last 2 lines and left my poem there. Barely more than a stanza, an 8 line poem. It is a character driven piece which surprised me considering the random approach to material gathering.

It is a piece about my mother – but the character isn’t my mum or anything like her so it is a created voice narrating about her mother. This woman may have more in touch with my grandparents generation and definitely bears no resemblance to any relative of mine. Fun to write though. I may write more with this character voice in the future. I do not feel this poem stands very tall but I like the woman I have created and the imagined daughter too and think they may make a reappearance.

‘All the while, in plain nylons and navy,

turning herself invisible.’


Today’s featured poet is Katie Staten, who wrote a well humoured elegy for her father-in-law.

The featured interview today is with Lawrence Ferlinghetti – an important figure in the beat generation of poets. Read his poems and articles here poetry foundation


Today’s challenge (optional prompt) came with music, so whilst at work I just copied notes on the idea behind the writing. Once I got home I listened to the music and did a piece of freewriting. Just on the music itself. Not with the prompt in mind.

Try it for yourself.


In the UK part of this track (Nimrod) was a used in a famous bread advert so you may find it difficult to imagine anything other than cobbled streets and a boy on a bicycle.

From the freewrite I have one description I may work in elsewhere. But I really only did it to leave work at the door and get my writing head on.


One of the most popular British works of classical music is Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations. The “enigma” of the title is widely believed to be a hidden melody that is not actually played, but which is tucked somehow into the composition through counterpoint. Today I’d like you to take some inspiration from Elgar and write a poem with a secret – in other words, a poem with a word or idea or line that it isn’t expressing directly. The poem should function as a sort of riddle, but not necessarily a riddle of the “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” variety. You could choose a word, for example, “yellow,” and make everything in the poem something yellow, but never actually allude to their color. Or perhaps you could closely describe a famous physical location or person without ever mentioning what or who it actually is.

I really enjoyed writing this poem, really felt like I was getting my teeth into something meaty that may sizzle on its own feet one day.

I chose to hide a colour and what started off as an autobiographical recount ended with something far more surreal (both the midwife and the baby have special names) and is ear-marked to return to after April. In fact I may need to return to it long before then. I think it is already walking!

‘The room for dubious babies…’

Jo Bell has posted Majority by Michael Donaghy for Day 4 of NaPo Read.

She also notes that there was no promise that these poems would be cheerful. Food for thought today.


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullThe Poetry School were after a Clerihew today, which is a brief form invented by Edmund Clerihew. If you would like to attempt one here is the format. Four lines of irregular metre and length, set in deliberately ‘wrenched’ rhyming couplets. Crucially, the first line has to end with a person’s name, typically someone famous.

I imagine there may be plenty of Trump/May poems out there today!