I have included the full introduction in case you are new to NaPoWriMo.
If you’re just joining us, Na/GloPoWriMo is an annual challenge in which participants write a poem a day during the month of April. What do you need to do to participate? Just write a poem each day! If you fall behind, try to catch up, but don’t be too hard on yourself – the idea here is to expand your writing practice and engage with new ideas, not to stress yourself out. All too many poets, regardless of their level of experience, get blocked in their writing because they start editing even before they have written anything at all. Let’s leave the editing, criticizing, and stressing out for May and beyond! This month, the idea is just to get something on the page.
If you’ll be posting your efforts to a blog or other website, you can provide us with the link using our “Submit Your Site” form, and it will show up on our “Participants’ Sites” page. But if you’re not going to be posting your work, no worries! It’s not a requirement at all – again, all we’re really trying to do is encourage people to write.
To help with that, we’ll be providing some daily inspiration. Each day, we’ll be featuring a participant, providing you with an optional prompt, and giving you an extra poetry resource. This year, those resources will take the form of poetry-related videos.
- I have completed NaPoWriMo for several years and the most important point is to ENJOY it. Sometimes life is busy and you will miss a day or fall behind. Do not battle against yourselves over this, accept it and move on. Either write extra or save the prompt for a time when you have more time to write.
the idea here is to expand your writing practice and engage with new ideas, not to stress yourself out.
- Accept that sometimes what you write will feel like rubbish. This is okay too. Those words you find not working for you will help create the steps to the ones that will.
- Keep going.
I am particularly excited by the poetry videos being incorporated this year. Even if you decide your 30+ poems are utter drivel you will have built up a fine range of prompts and resources by the end of April.
Our first featured participant is Miss Ella’s House of Sleep, whose poem “Annie Edson Taylor’s Birthday Plunge,” used our early-bird prompt to explore a fascinating and little-known historical figure.
This is funny because I wrote about Annie Edson for Women’s Day in 2016. I will be posting the early-bird material later this week. Due to a vast number of medical appointments last week I didn’t make it onto the site to read them.
Our resource for the day is a short film of January Gill O’Neil reading (and acting out!) her poem “How to Make a Crab Cake.”
If you’d like to read the poem itself as you follow along, you can find it here.
For our first prompt, let’s take our cue from O’Neil’s poem, and write poems that provide the reader with instructions on how to do something. It can be a sort of recipe, like O’Neil’s poem. Or you could try to play on the notorious unreliability of instructional manuals (if you’ve ever tried to put IKEA furniture together, you know what I mean). You could even write a dis-instruction poem, that tells the reader how not to do something. This well-known poem by John Ashbery may provide you with some additional inspiration.
After I watched the daily resource/video – I went to explore Gill O’Neil’s website, I read a few of her poems as well as her bio and book blurbs.
Then I re-read the prompt – write poems that provide the reader with instructions on how to do something. It can be a sort of recipe, like O’Neil’s poem. Or you could try to play on the notorious unreliability of instructional manuals (if you’ve ever tried to put IKEA furniture together, you know what I mean). You could even write a dis-instruction poem, that tells the reader how not to do something.
Over the years I have written lots of instructional poetry so I knew I wanted to do something different. I then remembered Mr G. has a unique way of interpreting IKEA instructions so I fancied writing a poem about that. I also liked the idea of a dis-instruction poem.
As it was very late when I tackled this prompt these are stream of conscious ideas at this stage, but as always with NaPo – will be worth a re-visit later because your inner editor has gone away this month!
(Note to my publisher, the inner editor will be back at the desk to work on my m/s, fear not!)
Language is a jelly-bean cartoon man,
who he instantly creates a story for –
I then played with the dis-instruction idea. For this I started with typing ‘instructions’ into a search engine and allowing the cells to appear with suggestions. The one which caught my eye was – instructions for sellers initially on cheese – brilliant! Unfortunately for me and my late night brain this turned out to be a cryptic crossword clue. I am banking it for future writing,
My next search gifted a PDF on ‘Instructions for Conducting Examinations 2018-2019’ which was my speed-read starting point and as someone who once was a full-time teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed turning the restrictions/instructions/government guidance upside down. Although I wouldn’t fancy being an invigilator in the exam room I created!
This 9 stanza poem became an almost narrative poem, it could adopt the layout of a prose poem and certainly reads like one in places. It possibly doesn’t have a genre identity just yet.
I called it A Box Within a Box – which is the security surrounded by exam materials once they are on site. This is a working title and is likely to be replaced. Here are a few lines.
At the end of the exam let the students mount the tables
and take a run for the door, only collect in the papers
without tread marks,
Let us know how NaPoWriMo is going for you and feel free to share links back to your blogs/websites throughout April.