Tag Archives: NaPo Prompts

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 30 The Final Poem

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It is with a slightly heavy heart that we wave goodbye to NaPoWriMo for another year today. I have a bank of prompts to play with if I ever feel the need to dip into ideas, some great resources and a collection of sometimes strange, partly incomplete and astonishing, surprising poems to end the month with.

One has already been used in my PoARTry Ledbury project and another was suitable for the WPL Suffragettes anthology.

The time I have taken out to write has been wonderful, my year as WPL has been amazing but it has impacted on writing time and submissions. I am now working on the tail end projects and setting up those which will continue after my Laureateship.

I will use my Napo time now as editing & writing and get myself back in the saddle ready to take off at speed, or perhaps a canter!

So here we are people, at the end of a month of poetry.

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Well, it had to happen, what with time being linear and all. We have finally arrived at the last day of Na/GloPoWriMo 2018! I hope you have had fun writing poetry over the course of the month, and that you’ll come back next year, when we will do it all over again, with new prompts, new featured participants, and a to-be-determined other kind of poetry feature.

Our final, featured participant for the year is NaNoPoRaWriMo, where the Plath-inspired poem for Day Twenty-Nine takes the form of a sonically-dense and lyrical recipe.

Our last craft resource for you is this online collection of recordings of Borges’ lectures on poetry and many other topics. Borges was, in addition to being a poet and writer of strange and compelling short stories, an inveterate professor who lectured widely in both Spanish and English. His lectures are seeded throughout with strange factoids, fascinating observations linking the poets and poetry of different ages and languages, and an overwhelmingly omnivorous approach to knowledge.

And for our final (optional) prompt, I’d like you to take your cue from Borges, and write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact. It could be an odd piece of history, an unusual bit of art trivia, or something just plain weird. While I cannot vouch for the actual accuracy of any of the facts presented at the links above (or any other facts you might use as inspiration!), I can tell you that there are definitely some poetic ideas here, just waiting for someone to use them.

We’ll be back tomorrow with a last post bidding farewell to Na/GloPoWriMo 2018, but in the meantime . . .

Happy writing!

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I really enjoyed listening to the Harvard Lectures on Poetry by Jorge Luis Borges.
I love the rediscovering of literature and knowing that I now spend my life writing, researching and learning too and it is wonderful, I will never tire of it.
Poetry is a passion and joy!
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I started with the Historical trivia, I have written a sequence of poems based on historical fact/ people, so was interested in this as a starting point. I saved 6/25 facts into a word document and moved onto Art Trivia.
I loved discovering facts about some of my favourite artists, some I knew, having studied them aeons ago at university! I saved 7 facts from 25 on the word document, highlighting 2 that appealed the most.
The weird facts – some of which I knew lend themselves to humorous poetry and have been banked for future writing. I collected a few of the 75, but read them all! 17 out of 75 facts, my favourite piece of trivia:

It is estimated that millions of trees are planted by forgetful squirrels that buried their nuts.

Love it!

 

The result of using this Art fact:

Henri Matisse‘s work, Le Bateau, was put the right way up after hanging upside-down for 46 days without anyone noticing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, America.

was a humorous poem where the guard ends up mopping water.

in the space

where sky

and water

meet.

I enjoyed playing with the form of this poem, I quite fancy seeing what happens if I reverse it and hang it upside down!

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 30

Final Day: Send it off

Well, here we are poets. Congratulations to everyone who joined in. It’s been a lot of fun.

As is tradition, your task for this last day of NaPoWriMo is to pick a poem from this month, clean it up, and send it off to a magazine or competition. Or share it with another person.

 

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NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 29

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Welcome back, everyone, for the penultimate day of Na/GloPoWriMo Day 29. I hope today you’ll be writing your 29th poem of the month! And even if it’s only your tenth, or even your first, well, that’s more poems than you started with, isn’t it?

Our featured participant today is What Rhymes with Stanza, where the postcard poem for Day Twenty-Eight is a pun-filled prose poem actually laid out as a postcard.

Today we have new interview (and our last for this year!), with the poet Chris Tonelli’s, whose second full-length poetry collection, Whatever Stasis, is just out from Barrelhouse Books. You can read some of Tonelli’s poetry here and here, and our interview with him here.

And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always). Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on the Plath Poetry Project’s calendar. Simply pick a poem from the calendar, and then write a poem that responds or engages with your chosen Plath poem in some way.

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My WPL projects involved a lot of poetry written in response to those read. So I look forward to tackling this poem.

I actually found it harder than I expected. It was a chance to read a lot of Plath’s poems, I finally chose Edge – which may not be in the linked archive.

My response poem was a lot shorter, just 3 stanzas.

the silk growns Queenlike

 

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 29

Day 29: Amnesty Day

Today, the penultimate day of NaPoWriMo, is amnesty day. It’s a day to do any or all of the following things:

1) Go back and try some prompts you missed, or want another go at.

 

2) Edit or redraft a poem from a previous prompt.

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 28

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Hello, all! There are just three days left in our April poetry-writing adventure! I hope you’ve been enjoying it.

Our featured participant today is Thoughts of Words, where the Tarot poem for Day Twenty-Seven features a poetical hermit.

Today, we bring you a new craft resource, in the form of this history and exploration of the prose poem. This essay helpfully catalogs several different styles of prose poem, with examples, and possible strategies for writing.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Following the suggestion of our craft resource, we challenge you today to draft a prose poem in the form/style of a postcard. If you need some inspiration, why not check out some images of vintage postcards? I’m particularly fond of this one.

Happy writing!

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I did a workshop several years ago with old postcards, so after looking at the NaPo link I started to research for postcard images from England, one came up with the letter writing side so from there I copied more postcard messages as a starting point.

 

The town is lopsided, one could easily feel drunk
looking at sloping rooftops.

 

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 28

Day 28: Music 

“Where words fail, music speaks.” ― Hans Christian Andersen

Before we move on, a note on yesterday’s prompt. If anyone wants to continue practising their iambic pentameter (ip), or any other metre they choose, a good habit to get into is to spend five minutes every day, or whenever you can, writing nonsense verse into your notebook in ip. Don’t worry about the sense — at all.

Anyway!

Today I would like you to write a poem while listening to music. For some this may be your regular practice; for some (like me) it will drive you up the wall. Try it either way. It can be the same song on repeat, or perhaps an album of songs all by the same artist, or an entire piece by a composer, but don’t try this with the radio, a mixed-artist playlist, or anything like that. I want you to sink into and feel the music, which can’t be done if it keeps changing.

Once your music is playing, begin to free-write, without stopping, until you can feel the poem emerge. At which point, it will probably be tempting to turn the music off, or mentally drown it out. Don’t. Try and let it in. Try and let the rhythm, the melody, the tone, and the mood affect the way you write.

I should say that your poem doesn’t need to be about the music. It may be preferable to write about something else, perhaps. For obvious reasons, no example poems today, but a nod in the general direction of two poets who I know write with music very much in mind: Bridget Minamore, whose pamphlet Titanic comes with recommended listening (!) and Rishi Dastidar, who, rumour has it, likes to blast music at his workshop students to stimulate emotions.

 

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It is true! I was fortunate enough to do Rishi Dastidar’s Call & Response workshop at Swindon Poetry Festival last year and thoroughly enjoyed using music to wake muse up!

I have also used music several times to write poetry, Candy Royalle used music in her workshop I was in a few years ago too. I do not have the time to write more than one NaPo poem as I am on catch up and have writing deadlines to meet this evening, but what the heck… it only happens once a year, right?

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 27

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I have fallen behind at the tail end of NaPoWriMo, not surprisingly as I have had festival appearances, events and a Book Launch over the past 3 days.

Attempting to catch up but also have submission deadlines so may end NaPo in May.

Hello all, and welcome back for Day Twenty-Seven of Na/GloPoWriMo.

Our featured participant today is Real Momma Ramblings, where getting breakfast on the table takes all five senses and strong nerves to boot.

Today we have a new interview for you, with Lauren Hunter, whose first book of poetry, HUMAN ACHIEVEMENTS, was published last year by Birds LLC. You can read some of Hunter’s poetry here and here, and you can check out our interview with her here.

And now for today’s (optional) prompt. Following Lauren Hunter’s practice of relying on tarot cards to generate ideas for poems, we challenge you to pick a card (any card) from this online guide to the tarot, and then to write a poem inspired either by the card or by the images or ideas that are associated with it.

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I read this prompt before work on the day it was posted. I spent the hours in between work preparing and rehearsing my set for Bohemian Voices (which was a lovely event, I will write a review soon).

Last year I started to look into fortune telling as research for a sequence of poems, one of which won me the Poet Laureateship of Worcestershire and apparently wowed all 5 judges. I look forward to writing a poem for this prompt, I explored the website and picked my card, I only looked at 2. The ideas have been bouncing around the back of my head as I was out on the road going to gigs (helped that the motorway had a 30 mph restriction)! Gave me more thinking time.

I chose ‘The Star’ and wrote about the figure on the card.

…                              the star
shines with unveiled truth

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 27

Day 27: Blank Verse

Blank verse – unrhymed iambic pentameter – is the living history of modern English poetry. It is Shakespeare, Milton and Tennyson, and even if you never use it again, you should give it a go, as learning to write it will help you read (and hear) them. It sounds like this (stresses in bold and feet marked with | ):

The woods | decay, | the woods | decay | and fall, 
The va | pours weep | their bur | then to | the ground, 
Man comes | and tills | the field | and lies | beneath

That’s Tennyson’s ‘Tithonus’, by the way. Note that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Here’s the next line, which has an extra syllable:

And af  |  ter ma | ny a | sum mer | dies the | swan. 

Iambic pentameter should be the basic pulse, though, and try to stick to five beats a line. 

To get the feel of it, I suggest you pick any section of Milton’s Paradise Lost — I like the beginning of Book II: 

High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous east with richest hand
Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,
Satan exalted sat, by merit raised
To that bad eminence; and, from despair
Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
Vain war with Heaven….

Your example poem today is ‘Mending Wall’ by Robert Frost (you’ll have to scroll down a bit). The version given here has been marked with the stresses (though you may, of course, scan it differently), and there’s an audio recording of Frost to help you with the rhythm. 

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 26

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Hello, everyone! Happy twenty-sixth day of Na/GloPoWriMo.

Our featured participant for the day is palimpsestic possibilities, where the Warning Label poem for Day Twenty-Five comes with footnotes!

Today we bring you a new craft resource, in the form of this essay by Josh Roark exploring engagement of the senses, and of the notion of embodiment, in the poetry of Ocean Vuong. Roark argues that the key to the success of Vuong’s poems is his particular ability to make the reader feel a poem as a visceral object, and not one that is removed or merely intellectual. If you’d like to check out some more of Vuong’s work, you might look at this poem that, fittingly for our purposes, is titled Essay on Craft.

And now for our prompt (optional as always). Taking our cue from today’s craft resource, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that includes images that engage all five senses. Try to be as concrete and exact as possible with the “feel” of what the poem invites the reader to see, smell, touch, taste and hear.

Happy writing!

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I started this prompt by collecting random images associated with the 5 senses.

I then almost abandoned these ideas in favour of writing about my experience of whale watching. The poem needs some fine tuning, but is generally adequate.

rough and smooth,
like the difference between
polar waters and the shallow.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 26

Day 26: The Tonic Chord

Today’s a difficult one to explain, so I’ll lead with the poems and then try to get it across. Have a read of Alan Gillis’ ‘To Be Young and in Love in Middle Ireland’, Rita Dove’s ‘Fox’, and Chrissy Williams’ ‘The Lost’ (one of my favourite poems). Finally, have a read of Edwin Morgan’s ‘Opening the Cage‘. (Hat-tip to Fiona Larkin on Twitter for finding this poem for us!).

All of these poems work with a small palette of key words – just a handful – and shift and rearrange them like a kaleidoscope, so we see different patterns. Think of these words, perhaps, as the tonic chord, the beginning and ending, the reference point to which you always return. I would like you to try something similar. You can either pick out your key words in advance, or, as I would suggest, start writing first, and then begin to modulate and return, modulate and return.

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 25

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Hello, all! It’s the twenty-fifth day of Na/GloPoWriMo. We’re really in the home stretch now!

Today, our featured participant is Zouxzoux, where the elegy for Day Twenty-Four breathes life into a lost dancer.

We bring you a new interview today, with Rodney Gomez, whose book Citizens of the Mausoleum, is being put out by Sundress Publications. Gomez is the author of several chapbooks, and his poems have previously been published in journals including PoetryThe Gettysburg ReviewBlackbirdPleiadesDenver Quarterly, and Puerto del Sol, You can read some of Gomez’s poems here and here, and our interview with him here.

And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always). Today, we challenge you to write a poem that takes the form of a warning label . . . for yourself! (Mine definitely includes the statement: “Do Not Feed More Than Four Cookies Per Hour.”)

Happy writing!

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I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with the reading. I loved Probability of the Sparrow by Rodney Gomez and liked discovering some of his work through the links provided, a new fan is born. I have also added a new blog to my reader list, about 10 so far this NaPoWriMo –  Zouxzoux’s Elegy poem was lovely, a good one to re-read.

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I had a pleasant time writing today’s poem, a warning for my heart. I am fairly satisfied with the results.

It weighs less than a billiard ball,
and is a lot easier to crack.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 25

Day 25: Poems for Children 

Good morning poets. A fun one for you today. I’d like you to write poems for children. It helps to have an age in mind when you write – a poem for a three year old being very different to young adult poetry – so please include your intended reading age when you post. It’ll help people give better feedback.

A couple of traps to avoid. Firstly, don’t, because you’re writing for children, suddenly decide to write like a Victorian. (I don’t know why people do this.) Secondly, try to avoid moralising.

Your first example poem is ‘From a Railway Carriage’, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic A Child’s Garden of Verses, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with.

The second example poem is ‘Falling Up’ by Shel Silverstein, which is number 6 in this list of his poems. 

Sometimes, of course, children write the best poetry themselves. This is ‘The Tiger’ by Nael, age 6.

At the time of reading this morning, I had lots of ideas for this – since then I have been preparing for the festival and many of my original thoughts have been forgotten, hoping they will come back when my mind is free-er.

I wrote about Evacuees as this is the new theme at work and I thought I may be able to use it in PE.

It needs some more work.

We all had labels attached to us,
as if we were parcels –

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 24

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Happy final Tuesday in Na/GloPoWriMo, everyone.
Our featured participant today is kavyastream, where the overheard/regional language prompt for Day 23 gives us more Texas sayings than you can shake a stick at.

Today’s craft resource is a long-ish essay by Hyejung Kook regarding how poetry can be created from absence, or in the wake of loss, and how awareness of mortality drives a desire to produce art, people, poems.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today, we’d like to challenge you to write an elegy – a poem typically written in honor or memory of someone dead. But we’d like to challenge you to write an elegy that has a hopefulness to it. Need inspiration? You might look at W.H. Auden’s elegy for Yeats, which ends on a note suggesting that the great poet’s work will live on, inspiring others in years to come. Or perhaps this elegy by Mary Jo Bang, where the sadness is shot through with a sense of forgiveness on both sides.

Happy (or at least, hopeful) writing!

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I loved the whiffletree from the participant poem. The practise of poetry mentioned in the craft resource is exactly what NaPoWriMo does for all of us. Puts fingers on those keys.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 24

Day 24: The Gift 

There are so many brilliant ‘gift’ poems that it’s hard to restrain myself to just a handful. Off the top of my head, there’s Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Valentine’, Michael Donaghy’s ‘The Present’, Billy Collins’ ‘The Lanyard’, Robert Frost’s ‘The Gift Outright’….

But today’s example poems are by poets a little less well-known in the UK, though hugely admired in the US. Firstly, I present you ‘The Gift’ by Li-Young Lee, an American poet, born in Indonesia (whose great-grandfather was the first Republican president of China).

My second gift is Rita Dove’s ‘For Sophie Who’ll Be in First Grade in the Year 2000’. Dove is a former US Poet Laureate and is editor of the Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry (2011). Some of her classics inspired poems would also have been useful for yesterday’s prompt.

One final thing: don’t forget you can write poems about receiving a gift as well as giving one.

I struggled with this one, my most famous poem is ‘Your Gift’ and I find it hard to even read the word gift without thinking of that poem.

However, I have written an Elegy and didn’t fancy that prompt and then after the day I have had, well I thought I needed to write about potential gifts that will help me, having gone back into a full time role (for the 1st time in 5 years) I think I may print it out and keep it in my cupboard!

 

A recipe book
for energy, late nights and
early lark mornings,

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 23

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One week to go!

Hello, everyone! It’s hard to believe, but there’s just one week left to go in this year’s Na/GloPoWriMo.

Our featured participant for the day is Eat All the Words, where the impossible prompt for Day Twenty-Two has been transformed into a study guide!

We have a new interview for you today, with Kate Greenstreet, whose fourth book of poetry, The End of Something, is just out from Ahsahta Press. You can read some of Greenstreet’s poetry here and here, and our interview with her here.

And now for today’s (optional) prompt! Kate Greenstreet’s poetry is spare, but gives a very palpable sense of being spoken aloud – it reads like spoken language sounds. In our interview with her, she underscores this, stating that “when you hear it, you write it down.” Today, we challenge you to honor this idea with a poem based in sound. The poem, for example, could incorporate overheard language. Perhaps it could incorporate a song lyric in some way, or language from something often heard spoken aloud (a prayer, a pledge, the Girl Scout motto). Or you could use a regional or local phrase from your hometown that you don’t hear elsewhere, e.g. “that boy won’t amount to a pinch.”

Happy writing!

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I found a wonderful archive of language from the region I grew up in and plan to use this sometime in the future. For now I played with a prayer and wrote a very honest poem.

… be done blue line,
as it is in films.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 23

Day 23: Classics 

Salve and Χαίρετε, poets. Today I’d like you to look to the myths of ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration. You may have to do some research to find a story that works for you. If possible, try to avoid a simple retelling of a well-known legend in its entirety; make it new by doing something different. One way to do this is to explore a small, perhaps overlooked moment, in a larger legend, as Michael Longley does in his poem ‘Laertes‘, which is about the return of Odysseus to his father Laertes. Another is to switch perspectives, as Carol Ann Duffy does in her poem ‘Mrs Midas‘. Yet another is use a snippet of myth as inspiration for a poem about modern life and death, as Jack Gilbert does in ‘Failing and Flying‘, and Danez Smith does in their poem ‘not an elegy for Mike Brown‘.

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 20

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Today is April 20th, and that means we are now two-thirds of the way through Na/GloPoWriMo, 2018. Time flies when you’re writing poems!

Today’s featured participant is Summer Blues, where the simple language of the poem written for Day 19’s structured erasure prompt eases you into a subtle but satisfying resolution.

Our craft resource for the day is Alice Notley’s essay, The Poetics of Disobedience. In it, Notley advocates for a poet to “maintain a state of disobedience against…everything.” By this she means remaining open to all forms, all subjects, and not becoming beholden to “usual” methods for writing. Whenever we are sure that there is one “right” way to write, or some specific set of topics that are the “right” ones to discuss, we should ask ourselves, what part of experience are we leaving out? And why?

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) takes its cue from Notley’s rebelliousness, and asks you to write a poem that involves rebellion in some way. The speaker or subject of the poem could defy a rule or stricture that’s been placed on them, or the poem could begin by obeying a rule and then proceed to break it (for example, a poem that starts out in iambic pentameter, and then breaks into sprawling, unmetered lines). Or if you tend to write funny poems, you could rebel against yourself, and write something serious (or vice versa). Whatever approach you take, your poem hopefully will open a path beyond the standard, hum-drum ruts that every poet sometimes falls into.

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From the essay I grabbed ‘a state of disobedience’ and wrote from there. I often think that the Government advice which is anything from alcohol consumption/health to weaning babies is unnecessary and a bit ‘1984’ (Orwell), so I ran with the idea of a woman who was rebelling against every legislation.

The poem itself is nonsense really but it was fun to write.

She used the low risk drinking guidelines leaflet as a beer mat,

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 20

Day 20: Personism 

Today I’d like you to write a poem that speaks directly to another person. It should be written so that you “could use the telephone instead of writing the poem” — or so says Frank O’Hara in his manifesto, Personism.

But what is Personism? Back to Frank:

“Personism, a movement which I recently founded and which nobody knows about… was founded by me after lunch with LeRoi Jones on August 27, 1959, a day in which I was in love with someone (not Roi, by the way, a blond). I went back to work and wrote a poem for this person. While I was writing it I was realizing that if I wanted to I could use the telephone instead of writing the poem, and so Personism was born. It’s a very exciting movement which will undoubtedly have lots of adherents. It puts the poem squarely between the poet and the person, Lucky Pierre style, and the poem is correspondingly gratified. The poem is at last between two persons instead of two pages.”

We know because O’Hara dated his work, that the poem he references here, the one he wrote ‘for this person’, was ‘Personal Poem’, and that is today’s example poem.

Note how the poem speaks directly to the addressee (casually, as if on the phone) but doesn’t mention them or discuss their relationship with the speaker. It can be tempting with this prompt to write to someone about something important in your relationship with them – a declaration of love, a long-withheld confession, an apology – and this is a perfectly valid way to go about it, but is that really what you always talk about when you get them on the phone?

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 19

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I sat in my garden after work, enjoying the last of the sun and wrote my second NaPo poem by hand. I didn’t manage to get any desk time to upload the post though.

Our featured participant for the day is clay and branches, where the “work-your-way-up-from-the-bottom” poem for Day Eighteen is an unsettling, intensive narrative.

Today, we have a new interview for you, with the poet Dan Brady, whose first book of poems, Strange Children, is newly out from Publishing Genius. Brady is the poetry editor for Barrelhouse Magazine, and the author of the chapbooks Cabin Fever / Fossil Record (Flying Guillotine Press, 2014) and Leroy Sequences (Horse Less Press, 2014). You can read some of Brady’s poems here and check out our interview with him here.

Our (optional) prompt for the day takes it cue from Brady’s suggestion that erasure/word banks can allow for compelling repetitive effects. Today we challenge you to write a paragraph that briefly recounts a story, describes the scene outside your window, or even gives directions from your house to the grocery store. Now try erasing words from this paragraph to create a poem or, alternatively, use the words of your paragraph to build a new poem.

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Much as I enjoy erasure poems, I found this prompt lacked the interest of a good paragraph to begin with. I would like to use the idea in the future when the subject of the initial paragraph results in something more than a view from the window. I wrote a paragraph detailing the things I pass on my journey to work and reworked 2 erasure poems, one which only yielded one line of any worth and the 2nd poem that was just okay.

A little disappointing but some interesting phrases from the erasure side of the task.

where last summer, only a tumbledown graffitied barn stood.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 19

Day 19: Coming of Age Poem 

Morning poets. Cast your minds back to that strange period at the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. Perhaps this transition happened for you or your speaker in a single epiphanic moment or maybe it happened imperceptibly over time. This coming of age may be marked formally in a traditional or non-traditional ceremony, it might be private or public, it could be mortifying or liberating, or both, or neither, but it should ideally be formative.

Your example bildungsgedicht today are Kayo Chingonyi’s ‘Kumukanda’ and Dom Bury’s recent National Poetry Competition winner ‘The Opened Field’.