Tag Archives: NaPoWriMo 2016

NaPoWriMo Day 11 Abstract Observation



Our poet in translation for today is Afghanistan’s Shakila Azizzada. She’s known for her delicate and at the same time passionate love poems – check out the not-exactly-racy-but-still-sizzling poem “Cat Lying in Wait,” along with several others, at the link above.


Today’s prompt encouraged close description of a place or an object with a surprise endline that seemingly doesn’t connect or fit to the object/place description. I’m hoping you’ll achieve. An abstract, philosophical kind of statement closing out a poem that is otherwise intensely focused on physical, sensory details. 

Let’s have a go!

I found this challenging, although using my empty coffee cup was perhaps not the most inspiring object on the desk.

I have chosen to share part of the middle of the poem and the endline – I guess this challenge doesn’t translate without reading the full poem. I am not perfectly happy with it at this stage though.

The base of the glass contains

puddles of condensation

residue of hot waking liquid.

A shallow circle of tan brown moves

when disturbed.



the day patches duller than swirling bulb.



NaPoWriMo Day 10 – Strength of a Spine


Day 10 is a third of the way through NaPoWriMo, I am still hoping I can squeeze the next 20 poems into May. Mathematically it is possible, the diary is full and I have my fingers in lots of pies again, so it will be a challenge.

Day 10’s poet in translation is Pakistan’s Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Faiz was known particularly for his ghazals, a traditional Urdu form of poetry. Six of his poems, translated into English, can be found here, and a number of additional poems are available here.

napo small

Today’s prompt encouraged book spine poetry.

I am excited about Book Spine Poetry, although I have never attempted it myself. The easiest place to try it out would be a library. I initially thought I would use my poetry shelf, but I have some obstacles in the way of my bookcase at the minute. Mr G has lots of Art books, so that was my next port of call. Then I remembered a pile of ‘self-help’ books I have been sorting through. I added a few plays and a book of quotes and came up with ‘The Guilty Bystander’.

The photo isn’t the clearest, I found stacking the titles in frame an impossible task. Book spine poetry can be harder than you would imagine. That’s what makes it a poem I guess.

book spine napo 10

The Guilty Bystander

There’s a hole in my chest,

everyday I pray

you can heal your life.

So long desired,

wake up and dream.

Love is like a crayon because it comes

in all colours.



NaPoWriMo Day 9 – Be Brave


There’s nothing like a good book launch to get creative juices flowing, that is why I couldn’t get back to sleep at 6 a.m and why the coffee is settling in the cafetière. Poetry time. Of course I emptied the junk mail and scoured inboxes first, but now – an hour later… I am ready.

napofeature1 Our poet in translation today is India’s Mallika Sengupta. Her poetry has been called “unapologetically political”, but it can also be pretty funny. I particularly like her “Open Letter to Freud,” which can be found, along with three other poems in English translation, at the link above. Further poems translated into English can be found here.


Today’s prompt asks us to write a poem including a line that you’re scared of. How’s that for suddenly emptying your head. All those brave lines ran away scared and I was faced with an empty screen for a while.

First cup from the newly used cafetière….

I started listing brave lines, I knew I had them in me. These are lines that hold emotion or personal secrets, are ugly or strange. I was shocked by some of lines and decided that those brave lines that shocked me should be my focus.

Really my focus should be buckling down with my manuscript… creating new poetry has more of a first thing in the morning appeal.


I use my ‘brave’ line to open the poem;

‘I am still scared of the dark’

throughout the poem I explore recent memory, coping strategies, childhood recollections, rituals and eventually the crux of the matter in the closing stanza, which I will share here.

I do not fear the dark in company,

sometimes I quite enjoy it,

intimacy found in the empty spectrum.

I think it is being left alone I fear.

NaPoWriMo Day 8 Back to the Future


Throughout May I will be posting my belated participation in NaPoWriMo.

We’ve passed the one week mark. I’m so happy to see that so many of you are still going strong!


Our featured participant for Day 8 is Ghazals and more at the bitter wished-for child, which shows how a successful tritina can be built from very simple language and simple words.

Our poet in translation today is Nepal’s Banira Giri. Giri emphasizes the importance of spontaneity in writing poetry, as well as expressing the connection between living things. In this way, her poems navigate between the personal and the political, the lyric “I” and the socially conscious “we.” Some of her poems, translated into English, can be found at the link above, here, and in the online literary journal The Drunken Boat.

napo small

Day 8 invited us to write about a flower. My Shakespearean based poetry from Day 5 was heavily floral, but I welcomed the prompt because I know just the sort of flower I wanted to honour today… and I don’t tend to write about flowers, so it is good to increase my bank of floral tributes. The white Plumeria flower of Hawaii.

This is the second poem of NaPoWriMo that I consider to be a finished piece. I enjoyed writing it and taking myself back to Hawaii. I am sharing the 2nd stanza;


As common as an English Rose to these islands,

this flower seeps effortlessly into dream-time.

Reflecting sunlight, the cleanest ke’oke’o

heightened against blue sky. Five petalled star,

overlapping like playing cards spread in a magicians palm.

Scent of beauty with essence of white magic.


plumeria-pixabaycom © pixabay.com


NaPoWriMo Day 7 Fun with Tritinas


This post needs retitling ‘Stalemate with Tritina’…

I have been waiting for the poem to come and finally today, it did. It finally came! My poem for NaPoWriMo Day 7. It has been a lingering work in progress (with minimal work and hardly any process) for days now.

Day 7

It has taken 4 weeks, but I have managed a week of NaPo Prompts. Day 7 started with congratulating one week of poetry under our belts and a reminder not to be hard on ourselves if we had fallen behind – at this point (7th April) I hadn’t even started!


Our featured participant for today is Kat Shamash, whose poem for Day Six marries the concept of food with travel and with the meeting of cultures. A very appropriate poem for this year’s translation-themed NaPo- and GloPo- WriMo!

Today, as we move ourselves east-to-west across the world, we dip our toe into Europe for the first time (albeit only because Russia is very very wide). Our featured poet in translation is Vsevelod Nekrasov, whose spare, minimalist work relies heavily on repetition, and which became more widely available in English with the 2013 publication of an English-language collection of his selected poems, I Live I See. You can find English versions of two of his poems here, another here, and four more (alongside the original Russian) here. Finally, if  you’re interested in learning more about Nekrasov, here’s a lengthy interview with him from 1993.


Today’s challenge was to write a Tritina. The tritina is a shorter cousin to the sestina, involving three, three-line stanzas, and a final concluding line. Three “end words” are used to conclude the lines of each stanza, in a set pattern of ABC, CAB, BCA, and all three end words appear together in the final line.

This is a form I had not come across before.

napo small

I enjoyed learning about the form and pondered over suitable subject matter. I felt I wanted this poem to be useful and currently apart from editing and NaPo writing I am not working towards anything so I struggled with this.

I decided to write a Tritina for Stanza, but then I missed the Stanza meeting (having no poem to take).

Eventually today I sat down with an unfinished submission and started to craft to theme. I realise now that it isn’t a true Tritina as I have missed the endline pattern, so actually it is back to drawing board with this form. Still like a fisherman who has been exhausted by a big catch I feel I am Tritina-ed out and will need to rest from it for a while. It will come… and when it does, I’ll be ready.


Ghost scenes torment you. A mistake made more than once,

tethers you to the past, keeps the replay running.


NaPoWriMo Day 6 Ingredients: Actual Poems


It is around about now (days off the end of the month) that I realise this challenge is not going to end in April for me. After 4 weeks off from my writing life, I am returning to writing for performance, performing and editing current projects. The summer is fast approaching and lots needs addressing in my life outside of poetry. My poetry life is busy preparing for festivals, events and submissions. Tag on the day job, I don’t even want to think about all the boxes I am trying to unpack my way through or the need for a DEEP Spring clean at home… the result is chaos.

I have decided not to rush the NaPoWriMo project, I want to enjoy this process and benefit from time to write – after all that’s the main point, that and to have fun.

I may dream of writing business but the nuts and bolts are art. Art needs nurturing, time, commitment, space… I am approaching it softly.

From now on I do a day a day, as it should be. Welcome to day 6.


Our featured participant today is Kevin O’Conner, who struggled at first with our Day 5 prompt, but came up with a great poem, well-seeded with seed names.

Today’s featured poet in translation is Burma’s Ma Ei. Very little of her work is available in English, but you’ll find two poems at the link above, and two more here.

You may be interested in checking out this short film, showcasing the work of contemporary Burmese poets, including Ma Ei, as well as this interview with James Byrne, editor of a recent anthology of Burmese poetry, which includes Ma Ei’s work.


Today’s prompt was to write about food.


This is my friend’s microwave (7 years ago), maybe they have these models in the UK in a higher budget than the mark Mr G and I look at, I just loved the message. Usually they just ping, beep or flash. Perhaps I should have written about this microwave instead of taking half a day (and night) deliberating my food poem.

I think the writing process for Day 6 is juicier than the poem so I am sharing it first. I love food, this write should have been easy. But I remember Jo Bell’s advice; abandon your first thoughts, dig deeper. Immediately, like a naughty child, I want to write all my initial foodie thoughts.


Butter Fingers

I haven’t written a poem about cake.

Or biscuits.

Or fish fingers, crabsticks and spaghetti hoops.

There is no advice about what foods to avoid

on (first) dates,

or heavily veiled descriptions of tier towered

wedding cakes.

No Saturday night take-away

chicken madras, sweet and sour pork, fish

and chips,

but there is a poem about food.



If in doubt write what you are not going to write about. Just a bit of free write fun there, in the shape of a poem. Although it does pass as a food poem. At this point I placed a title above it and moved on. It is a poem.

I started with pictures of food, trying to disguise identity in an almost riddle.

Bright circus colours

a Big Top in stream form

The mustard and ketchup on a hotdog.

Then came a mind-map. Some ideas from which I may explore in the summer when I have maximum writing time.

Films about food and drink was taken from the mind-map and became an enjoyable hour of research and created some ideas for my next writing group, in May. I have a list of 27 alternative film titles substituting food words. ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crumpet’ a particular favourite of mine. Harrison Ford, dishy – doesn’t take a writer to get to crumpet there.

I then looked at Tarantino film clips involving food (another idea to chase later). I ended up on a recipe page and then spent a futile Google search looking for US Market canned Pumpkin, previously available in Tesco & Waitrose and now seemingly not reaching our island at all. I thought of filling suitcases and then baggage allowance and security.

Then I wrote a poem about Mr G and I cooking in the kitchen together.

Tango on terracotta tiles…

cabinet perimetered dancefloor…

hands gathering busy.

From here I ended up falling asleep and I woke up (2 hrs after my alarm) with a poem spilling from my head.


Eggs is Eggs (A pillow head poem)

Mum poached them

Dad fried them

Paul boiled them

I scrambled

and David,

was too young to cook.


me hallo


NaPoWriMo Day 5 – The Great Catch Up


I feel like a storm chaser!

Back in week 1, at the beginning of April this was what Day 5 had in store. It started with a timely reminder that Rome wasn’t built in a day… you are telling me, I have barely made it to the Lazio region.

NaPoWriMo has also had a naming update. GloPoWriMo – Global Poetry Writing Month.


Today’s featured participant is “this. and other poems,” with a rhyming November-themed haiku. November here seems both cruel and kind, with its sense of a fine balance between cold and light.

Our poet in translation for today is China’s Jiang Hao. Born in 1972, Jiang Hao is known for both the experimental nature of his work, and his incorporation of classical Chinese themes and forms. At the link above, you’ll find English translations of six of his poems, and his work also appears in the anthology New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry 1990-2012, available from Tupelo Press.


I get to revel in the mystery of what my poem might have been if I had written it 3 weeks ago. I am performing at an event tomorrow night that celebrates Shakespeare 400 and I have lost the sonnet I wrote especially for my set, so I needed new poetry and perhaps a lesson in how to take care and manage computer files, notebooks and paperwork!

The prompt was to think about seedlings, seeds, names of plants etc. We have (well by ‘we’ – I mean Mr G) have spent 3 years working on our garden, visiting garden centres and tending for our precious plants. My favourite was a fuchsia we bought because it was called ‘ Wedding Bells’.

Initially I thought I would look up some seed names and sprinkle them through earthy verse, then I realised I needed new material for tomorrow and so took a curve ball.

William Shakespeare’s plays reference flowers or use them as plot devices, so this was where I began.

Here is an extract;


Pansy of hurried thought

marked since Roman times,

…. flower juice consumes hearts,

divine purity falls to lust

chaotic disturbance

prized by some unsuspecting soul.



I wrote another poem using lifted / directly sourced quotes about flowers from his plays and weaved them together. Then I wrote a further two poems attempting Shakespearean language, followed by paralysing recollection of an A-Level exam on Antony & Cleopatra. I hope the audience will enjoy some of these tomorrow night.

shake getty images © Getty Images 2016



NaPoWriMo Day 4 Resources & Inspiration


Pretending that it isn’t the 25th April, here is Day 4 from NaPo.

News of a couple of resources that I have glanced over and hope to come back to later on in the year.

First, at the NPM Daily blog, you’ll find a new interview with a poet each day during April. Second, in addition to writing poems for NaPoWriMo, maybe you’d be interested in making a guerrilla poetry video. There is a Facebook events page – just type in National #Guerrillapoetrymonth and hit search. I have copied the information from this page.

ZFG Promotions, Sol Collective and Outside the Lines teamed up to celebrate this year with the return of the National (Guerrilla) Poetry Month video series. Originally started in Sacramento in 2014, National (Guerrilla) Poetry Month features videos of poets performing at surprise locations throughout the city. Tune in all month. There will be new releases every few days.

This is a challenge to poets around the world to create and share their own National (Guerrilla) Poetry Month videos!

1) Create an awesome guerrilla poetry video.
2) Post it on your social media outlets and use
3) Share it like crazy!

Contact ZFGpromotions{@}gmail.com for more information.

When I first embarked on Performance Poetry, back in the 90s in Leicester, I knew a couple of hard-core poets* who performed Guerrilla poetry and recently experienced it live at Ledbury Poetry Festival. Personally I have not got the time or the tech to join this challenge, but it may be of interest to some of you.

* Who rather like Base Jumpers skirted close to the law by choosing certain establishments, like Banks, to perform their Guerrilla poetry in!

ZFG promtions ZFG Promotions © 2016


Our featured participant today is Ileea, who is participating in NaPoWriMo from Sweden! Her poem for Day 3 is a fan letter to the author Donna Tartt. My Swedish is pretty rusty (well, actually, it’s nonexistent), but with the help of Google, I’ve discovered lines in Ileea’s poem that would be wonderful in any language, like “It took eleven pages for me to love you,” and “Beauty is fear.”

Today’s featured poet in translation is Vietnam’s Nguyen Do. Known for the musicality of his work, Nguyen considers his poems “somber,” but not necessarily “sad.” Cerise Press has made available dual-language versions of several of his poems. Nguyen is also heavily involved in translating other Vietnamese poets’ work into English, working with Paul Hoover to produce an English-language version of the selected poems of Nguyen Trai, and an anthology of contemporary Vietnamese poetry, Black Dog, Black Night.


The optional prompt today is writing about the cruellest month, which is hard. I appreciate time and love the whole year for many different reasons. I cannot even allocate a month to some of the major traumatic events in my life. I do not like to blacken time.

I realise the prompts are optional, but I enjoy the challenge. I decided to write about this March, where an early Easter saw me dip in writing time and I switched off and disconnected for a while.


An extract from ‘Empty Pages

‘heat drained from bones

body simmers for summer months

waits for chroma plied wings to open

and reveal

hopeful skies.’









NaPoWriMo Day 3 – Work got in the way


It is nearly the end of NaPoWriMo 2016, we are less than a week off the end of the celebration of daily writing and I am on Day 3…

I am sure this makes you feel better if you are lagging behind. Come on! We can do this!

The featured participant today is emangarduque, I really like the look of the blog and there is a double haiku from the Day 2 family prompt to enjoy.

The featured poet in translation for today is South Korea’s Kim Hyesoon. Her poetry, which has been widely translated into English, is known for its outsized, grotesque imagery, as well as its concern for the relationship between individuals and society. Poetry International has made English translations of around a dozen of her poems, as well as editorials and essays, available online.

I am drawn to today’s prompt, write a fan letter in the style of a poem. I have many heroes, mostly dead (they cannot disappoint or stray from my rose tinted vision), no they weren’t chosen because of this, they just happen to be dead.

After toying with a list I have decided to address my letter to something else entirely.

Whilst I am put supermarket shopping (oh, the glamour) I will let my ideas swirl about my head and hopefully pen my poem when I get home.


I attempted to write a fan letter to the weekend (something I will come back to later) not happy with the results I decided to write to one of my long-loved heroes, Jim Morrison.

The poem needs some work. To inspire me I listened to an interview with his father and sister that I had not seen before Interview (without comments).

‘… the spirit of us folded together across secrets and truth’

‘… drawn towards your wise mouth.

Words uttered, half prayed in your pen.’

NaPoWriMo Day 2


The beginning of today’s message (April 2nd) reminds us that NaPoWriMo is about experimentation rather than perfection. It is likely in 30 days of writing (or 12!) that some poems will ‘have legs’ as they say, it is important not to worry about the others.

NaPo is about the writing, the exercise of pen to paper and word flow. It is good not to put pressure on pleasure.

Our poet in translation for today is Indonesia’s Toeti Herati. Born in 1933, she started publishing in her early forties, and her work is known for its feminist bent, using irony to expose Indonesian culture’s double standards. Very little of her work is available in English, but the Poetry Translation Center has posted English versions of seven of her poems online, and also offers a dual-language chapbook featuring her work. © 2016 NaPoWriMo

Today’s prompt a poem that takes the form of a family portrait. I immediately look at the framed pictures of family in my room, nephews, brothers, grandma, weddings, birthdays, lazy mornings. I think about the black and white portraits in the family album beside the bookcase that I started to compile a decade ago, I notice dust where there shouldn’t be any and try to think about poetry instead. I have had a work call and now have less time to write, I know I won’t catch up today and I need to filter everything else to write about family. My manuscript covers a lot of memory and family work so it is a subject I am familiar with, but know that I can’t pop this poem out, like I did for the Lune challenge this morning.


Pondering time…

an excerpt from Family Portrait Challenge Day 2.

‘moments no longer printed on paper

pixel memories trapped inside our screens.’