Tag Archives: NaPo

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?

 

 

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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 A Review of a Week of Poetry 3

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This was my first week back at work and a week that saw 3 performance events, all of which I missed (due to lack of energy and work). I held it together just enough to manage a poem a day. I found my time with NaPo prompts therapeutic, a small part of the day carved out just for me.

Week 3: 

  1. (19) Not of Eve (Written about the White Witch)
  2. (20) Rules of the Game (A poem based on the rules of Badminton)
  3. (21) Wið færstice – For a Sudden Stitch (A Poetry Spell)
  4. (22) On Display (Reverse text)
  5. (23) Contrast (Erasure)
  6. (24) A State of Disobedience
  7. (25) Narcissus Flower

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Week 1 Poetry 

  1. Best Before
  2. The Sea Jewel
  3. The Home at Christmas
  4. Apology
  5. Bring Me The Shoes
  6. Wordle Band Name
  7. Pudding Protest
  8. In the Park
  9. Picking Blackberries
  10. Note at Preached/ Preached to Neat / A Taped Coherent / Open at Detacher

Week 2 Poetry

  • 11. Cotton To 
  • 12. The Tiny Objects of a Vast Mind
  • 13. World Going
  • 14. White Matter Change
  • 15. Apple
  • 16. The Difficult House – Poem Beginning with a line from Sean Nevin
  • 17. Keep the Light
  • 18. Remover

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 22

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Happy fourth Sunday of Na/GloPoWriMo, all.

Today’s featured participant is ARHtistic License, where the Narcissus/narcissism poem for Day 21 treats the myth from Echo’s point of view.

Our craft resource for the day is a series of reflections by Wesley McNair on “indirect entry” into a poem. McNair writes of inviting mystery and uncertainty into our poems, both with respect to the writing process and the finished work.

And now for our daily prompt (optional as always). I’ve found this one rather useful in trying to ‘surprise’ myself into writing something I wouldn’t have come up with otherwise. Today, I’d like you to take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then write a poem in which the impossible thing happens:

The sun can’t rise in the west.

A circle can’t have corners.

Pigs can’t fly.

The clock can’t strike thirteen.

The stars cannot rearrange themselves in the sky.

A mouse can’t eat an elephant.

Happy writing!

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I found the process of poems, the craft article/reflections by Wesley McNair a good read.

I look forward to writing my impossible poem! I enjoyed writing this poem. I wrote a thin poem based on an answer in a mathematical forum. I am fairly pleased with the resulting poem and may have found a suitable poem for my final Poet Laureate Collection on Mathematical/Scientific poems in memory of Stephen Hawking.

thoughts about
tiny angles
can wait.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 22

Day 22: Pantoum 

Morning poets. Today I’d like you write a pantoum. The pantoum is an anglophone variation on the Malay ‘pantun’. It uses quatrains with repeated lines, much like a villanelle. Each stanza takes the second line of the stanza above as its first line, and the last line of the stanza above as its third line. Your poem can be any number of quatrains — four is the most common. It looks like this, where letters represent lines (not rhymes):

Stanza 1

A
B
C
D

B
E
D
F

E
G
F
H

and so on. Your example poem is ‘Zadie Smith’s first novel is‘  by the brilliant Bridget Minamore.

I love a Pantoum, I learnt to write this form a couple of years ago and have had one or two published. I look forward to coming back to this prompt.

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 21

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The inevitable landslide of working, preparing for festivals, editing, experiencing some sunshine and falling days behind with NaPo… but it is week 3 and up until now I was following the plan well. I have learnt over the years to forgive myself as I think this naturally happens to everyone who is balancing elements of life. If you do not forgive yourself, you end up using writing energy as negative self-sabotage and that gets you nowhere.

Onward. Or backwards (technically)!

Day 21:

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Today marks three full weeks of Na/GloPoWriMo!

Our featured participant for the day is Unassorted Stories, where the rebellious poem for Day 19 shows how repetition, used well, can drive a poem along, giving it momentum and heft. It also provides a really interesting window into the poet’s “rules,” which she broke in writing the poem.

Today, we have a new interview for you, with Antoinette Brim, whose newest book of poetry, These Women You Gave Me, has been published by Indolent Books. Brim is a Cave Canem Foundation fellow, a recipient of the Walker Foundation Scholarship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. You can read some of her poems here and here, and you can check out our interview with her here.

And now for our (optional) prompt. In her interview, Brim provides us with several suggestions for generative writing exercises, and we’d like to challenge to today to tackle her third one, which is based in the myth of Narcissus. After reading the myth, try writing a poem that plays with the myth in some way. For example, you could imagine that imagine the water is speaking to you, the narcissus flower. Or you could write a poem in which the narcissus berates the Kardashians for stealing their neurosis. Or a poem that comments on the narcissism of our time, i.e. beauty and body obsession, etc.

Happy writing!

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I enjoyed getting to know the poetry of Antoinette Brim today. I was interested by the prompt of a myth I know well, what I didn’t know was that the narcissus flower is the daffodil. I have always been amazed at how these flowers spread and whole puddles of them appear where they were never planted.

Due to being several days behind, I would call it a stanza rather than a poem. I planned to work in short form, but it is free verse.

I hope to work on this one later in the year. A post summer revisit!

 

the bulb, a house of toxins.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfull The Poetry School Day 21

Day 21: Word Association (Redux)

Morning poets. Another slight reinterpretation of a prompt from last year. Below is a list of ten words. I would like you – quickly, without thinking about it – to scribble down a word you associate with each one of them.

Wood
Protection
Magazine
Float
Shed
Inner
Capable
Clash
Wax
Daughter

Now use your ten new words in your poem, one per line. If you’re up for a challenge, use the words in the order you have them; if you’d like a bit more flexibility, use them in any order.

NB: Don’t use the above words in your poem – use the words you associated with them, e.g. not ‘Wax’, but ‘Candle’ or ‘Drip’. If you don’t want to start with the words we’ve given you, open the closest book to you and pick the last word on every page from 30 to 39 and associate from that.

 

I made my word association list and plan to work on it later.

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’.