Tag Archives: James Tate

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 7


Day Seven

Wow, it’s hard to believe, but we’re already one week into Na/GloPoWriMo. Here’s to another three weeks and change!

Today’s featured participant is Lucky Cat Comics, where the homophonic translation that came out of Day Six’s prompt is short, sweet, and artistic.

Our resource for the day is the Poem of the Day. Like Verse Daily, this feature presented by the Poetry Foundation brings you a new poem every day.


Start by reading James Tate’s poem “The List of Famous Hats.”  Now, write a poem that plays with the idea of a list. Tate’s poem is a list that isn’t – he never gets beyond the first entry. You could try to write a such a non-list, but a couple of other ideas would be to create a list of ingredients, or a list of entries in an index. A self-portrait (or a portrait of someone close to you) in the form of a such a list could be very funny. Another way into this prompt might be a list of instructions.

It doesn’t feel like we have completed a week of challenges already! But there you are, we have! Well done to you all, whether you have produced 1 or 8 poems (including the Early Bird).

TOP TIPS (to keep going)

  • Do not worry about the quality of your writing, the editing comes later.
  • Even if you are short on time, check in and read the prompt – that way your mind will be ruminating on it ready for your writing time.
  • Don’t give up!
  • If you miss a day/(s) – forgive yourself IMMEDIATELY.
  • If a prompt doesn’t work for you, write something else (they are optional).
  • Keep going – you are a quarter of the way there.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Process Notes:

I started (as always) with the featured poem. I know today’s resource well and have been on the mailing list for years. I read Belly, Buttocks, and Straight Spines, today’s poem by Sonia Sanchez.

you kiss your own breath

As it is a site I am familiar with and a resource I am already connected to I moved onto today’s prompt. I have written many list poems and it is not a genre I turn to outside of a workshop setting. I am aware that sometimes something on the list can spark another poem and it is all process. So off I go!

I am a fan and user of poets.org, introduced to me by a kindly poet nearly a decade ago. They will also send you a poem-a-day if you subscribe. I didn’t know this poem and admired how it was a prose poem, one of the problematic issues with list poems/ is it a poem argument – is they are usually lists. Maybe I will try a prose poem today – it will be only the 6th one I have ever written. A genre I avoided until a superb workshop with Jennifer Wong.

Due to misplaced morning fingers I read James Tate’s biography first and it left me wanting to read more of his work.

The poem The List of Famous Hats was greatly amusing.

I then set to task – this is the longest I have spent creating a NaPo poem so far this challenge. I knew what I wanted to use as my base material – I had a page of research which needed to be a poem that I created a few days ago and have been thinking of since – my main thought being how on earth do I make this a poem? And BING! NaPo day 7 Prompt – List Poem, so I gave it a go – originally with the idea of fictionalising the fact as in Tate’s poem (this did not happen) although some of my original list was cut and I am unconvinced it works as a prose poem. I will let it rest for now.

A county of many facets

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 18


napofeature4 (1)

How does NaPoWriMo feel to you?

I was up very late last night editing my manuscript until the laptop battery died, which meant this morning I shared my first cup of coffee with the NaPo prompt on a different device whilst I waited for the laptop to come back to life.

I like reading the NaPo post and then going about the business of living/to do list tasks before coming back to work through it. Poets enjoy creating things in the backs of their minds and reading the page early does just that.

I liked the parallel between today’s prompt and the book I am currently working on. It set my mind racing.

logo-napowrimo As always for the full prompt, click the day.

Day Eighteen

Our featured participant today is Gloria D. Gonsalves, whose charming poem for Day Seventeen presents a rather common weather phenomenon from a quirky and graceful point of view.

Today’s video resource for the day is a short documentary, filmed as part of the The Favorite Poem Project. This project was started by Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States, and resulted in fifty short films in which American citizens read their favorite poems and explain why they find those poems meaningful. In this particular iteration, a Miami Beach marketer named Jessica Cotzin reads James Tate’s “The Lost Pilot,” and explains her connection with and attachment to it, including how it helped her to feel and express her own grief for the loss of a loved one.

Our prompt for the day takes its cue from how poetry can help us to make concrete the wild abstraction of a feeling like grief. “The Lost Pilot” does this, as does this poem by Victoria Chang, called “Obit.” In both poems, loss is made tangible. They take elusive, overwhelming feelings, and place them into the physical world, in part through their focus on things we can see and hear and touch. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an elegy of your own, one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail. This may not be a “fun” prompt, but loss is one of the most universal and human experiences, and some of the world’s most moving art is an effort to understand and deal with it.

I wish you, if not happy, then meaningful, writing!


NaPo Process Notes 

photo of person writing on notebook

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I started with reading ALLEGORY OF DANCING by Gloria D. Gonsalves. It’s a beautiful piece which made me question why I battled with all that research yesterday when I could have taken the raindrop part of the prompt. It is packed with description and is quite cinematic, I can vividly see the scene described. 

It is another participant’s site poem to make it into my NaPo resource file as I know I will want to read it over. I loved the idea of raindrops break dancing on people’s faces.

I had a quick look around Gloria’s website. I will be back to read more of her NaPo poetry.


I knew about the Favorite Poem project, but it was good to be reminded of where I can find the videos. I also enjoy watching readers read poetry, as opposed to poets performing it. I like the insight to the people’s lives included in these docu films. I watched the video, my heart felt for the loss Jessica Cotzin has experienced and tugged for the wanderlust. I became absorbed by more than James Tate’s poem.

You can find more of the videos from this project here http://www.favoritepoem.org/

Favorite Poem Project: Started by Robert Pinsky during his tenure as Poet Laureate, the Favorite Poem Project is dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry’s role in Americans’ lives.

Then I listened to the Obit by Victoria Chang. Immensely touching. Gentle lines that cut deeply with grief. I copied it to my resource file for Day 18.

I thought about the correlation between today’s prompt and my book, which deals with loss.


On Writing 

blank business composition computer

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I have 60 poems or more than would answer this prompt, of course, I will write a new NaPo poem today. I am carrying the thoughts in my head this morning whilst I get on with my day, grateful that I get another one on this planet. I will write later and come back to finish notes on writing and leave a line or two.

When I came to write my poem I knew who I was writing about. During the funeral period of this relative I wrote streams in a notebook with the intention of them being poems one day, I was younger then, still a poet (before the 15 year break from creativity), I am not sure what became of that notebook, I have moved 11 times since then.

I wrote in the 3rd person to detach myself, make it seem less autobiographical but actually it would be a more powerful poem in the first person. Realising this I rejigged the narrative. It was a 7 (back to the automated/lucky number length) stanza poem and I called it Laying to Rest – the poem explores all those things the mourner lays to rest and of course it is a funeral poem.

Here’s a snippet.

wish you’d been softer 

like the petals of the roses 

which now cover up your name.