Tag Archives: Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 28


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!


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.


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


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


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