Pens at the ready! This is no April Fools… poets around the world will be creating 30 new poems this month and they start TODAY!
Later on today I will share the first prompt of NaPoWriMo, until then here’s the Early Bird Prompt from yesterday (31/3/22)
Click here for the FULL prompt.
… a special early-bird prompt, based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson.
Dickinson is known for her elliptical style, unusual word choices, and mordant sense of humor. Over the past year, I’ve experimented with writing poems based on, or responding to, various lines from her poems. Today, I’d like to challenge you to do the same! Here are a few lines of Dickinson’s that might appeal to you (the slashes indicate line breaks):
- “Forever might be short”
- “The absence of the Witch does not / Invalidate the spell”
- “If to be ‘Elder’ – mean most pain – / I’m old enough, today”
- “The second half of joy / Is shorter than the first”
- “To be a Flower, is profound / Responsibility –
Dickinson is one of my personal favourites, last year I was gifted several amazing books of her verse and spent a lot of Lockdown with the Emily Dickinson Museum. I am looking forward to carving out a little time to try this prompt.
In the end I settled on this poem from 1861:
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
’Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
Choosing just one line to start from was my next challenge!
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
From here I jumped into a word document, I know that longhand freewriting would give different results, I went back to the practice of notebooks at the start of Lockdown 2020. But I have also found from keeping Napo journals in the past, I am more likely to treat, polish and edit a poem which already exists digitally.
I used to be like Emily and write on the back of envelopes, beermats, napkins, receipts – whatever was available, I have a small collection of teenage angsty scribbles in a box somewhere – but those non-cataloguing days are over!
One small downside was I had marked a community workshop (US) in my diary at 10pm and was so lost in the wonderful world of light and faith that I missed the first 30 mins and couldn’t get in! The irony of missing a workshop where I could have penned 3 or 4 beginnings to only one poem is not lost. However, think this was the universe intervening – there is a lot going on in my world right now and after another almost full week of work, I am mentally (and physically) exhausted!
I wrote a very personal poem which has a need for each line so quoting one line won’t really translate.
I kept the stanza short – tercets (as a nod to Emily), and continued to write it until it reached a natural end. It is longer than I expect it will be. I edit from May – so now it is ready to rest in the NaPo 2022 file.
I had fun completing this prompt.