Tag Archives: NaPoWriMo 2018

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 17



NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 16



We’re now officially in the second half of Na/GloPoWriMo. Hopefully you’ve found your versical rhythm, so to speak, and you’ll find that writing poems the remainder of the month will be a snap.

Today’s featured participant is Katie Staten, whose response to the villainous prompt for Day Fifteen imagines a day in the life of Ursula the Sea Witch.

We have a new craft resource for you today, or maybe an anti-craft resource, in the form of this essay by Michael Bazzett warning against the fetishization of craft. Thinking hard thoughts about word choice, line breaks, sound, and structure can help to make a poem better, but too much emphasis on perfection can breed stale, airless verse. There always has to be room for play, and not just work, in our poems.

In this vein, our (optional, as always) prompt for the day asks you to write a poem that prominently features the idea of play. It could be a poem about a sport or game, a poem about people who play (or are playing a game), or even a poem in the form of the rules for a sport or game that you’ve just made up (sort of like Calvinball).

Happy writing!




5ab39dd423e2c-bpfullThe Poetry School Day 16

Day 16: Voice

Today I’d like you to write a poem based on voices, ideally a dialogue. This can be a formal dialogue for two voices, like John Fuller’s ‘A Dialogue between Caliban and Ariel’, or you can present just half of the dialogue and leave the other half to the reader’s imagination, as in Kathryn Maris’s ‘Darling, Would You Please Pick Up Those Books?’, or you might like to present an overheard third-person dialogue as Sharon Olds’ does in her poem, ‘Voices’.

Whatever you choose to do, the key points are that you must include speech, and two or more people’s voices (even if one is just implied).

Having already completed a two voices poem this month I decided on using the Naponet prompt on using rules of a game. I chose badminton, a game I have never played.

I started with the rules and took it from there. I wrote about playing indoors as a child (usually reading), compared to my active, sporty brothers. It became a prose poem. I am not entirely satisfied, but it is late and I have been at work all day. So I am willing to leave it. I have followed the rules of the game and as far as the prompt goes, succeeded.

She served her pages diagonally, swiped the next one open with the edge of an index finger,



NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 15



Today marks the halfway point of this year’s NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo!

Our featured participant today is ivoryfishbone, where the dream poem for Day Fourteen takes a fantastic, yet sinister turn.

We have a new interview for you today, this time with Sarah Blake, whose second full-length book of poetry, Let’s Not Live on Earth, is newly out from Wesleyan University Press. Blake’s first book of poetry, Mr. West, was also published by Wesleyan, and her debut novel, Naamah, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books. You can read several of Blake’s poems here, and our interview with her here.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). In her interview, Blake suggests writing a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil). Perhaps this could mean the witch from Hansel & Gretel has lost her beloved cat, and is going about the neighborhood sticking up heart-wrenching “Lost Cat” signs, but still finds human children delicious. Maybe Blackbeard the Pirate is lost at sea in an open boat, remembering how much he loved his grandmother (although he will still kill the first person dumb enough to scoop him from the waves).

Happy writing!


Going to have some fun researching villains!

I started here with Stylist Magazine. I stopped on the 4th Villain, the White Witch, Jadis from the Chronicles of Narnia (which were books I loved reading as a child).

After some character research I started by pulling out a few sentences of interest, all the while trying to imagine her ‘unfortunate situation’.

I started writing in Haiku form and then elongated the lines. My final poem ‘Not of Eve’ reads well and is just 2 stanzas long.

I feel the crackle of shame ricochet through me.

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfullThe Poetry School Day 15

Day 15: Reflections 

Today I’d like you to write a poem that features mirrors or reflections in some way. One option is a self-portrait — after Ashbery (and Parmigianino), tradition dictates these poems are called ‘Self-Portrait in an xMirror’, just like our first example poem today: ‘Self-portrait in front of a small mirror’ by Will Harris.

But you can also include mirrors (or other reflective surfaces) in plenty of other interesting ways, either overtly or subtly. Have a look at Matthew Sweeney’s prose-poem ‘Huge Mirrors’, which centres the mirror itself rather than the reflection, and Thylias Moss’s ‘Lessons from a Mirror’, which uses the mirror as a jumping off point for a dissection of a fairy tale.


NaPoWriMo 2018 A Review of a Week of Poetry 2



Nearly halfway through NaPoWriMo 2018 and here’s how it looks:

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

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




NaPoWriMo Week 2 Review


WPL Wordle 3 Napo small I certainly had less time for writing this week with a diary full of doing. This made it very important to carve out some time for NaPo Writing, often just before the day’s end (which is a good time for my creative thinking).

I enjoyed the resources, articles, example poems, interviews and ideas that came from this week’s NaPoWriMo prompts and they have enabled a range of completed poems and a few I need to spend more time with.


When I had time and the prompts appealed, I managed more than one poem, which is all in preparation of having to fit full-time work in, starting next week. It has been a couple of years since I last worked a full week and my poetry schedule has not diminished because of it. I have a Poetry Surgery to run, a special edition magazine to edit, reviews to write, sets to rehearse, I am performing at Cheltenham Poetry Festival and as 1 of 5 performers at Bohemian Voices this month too. There are also some book launches and event nights I hope to manage.


I started the week with 2 missing days (Day 6 & 7) from Week 1, so I had to catch up with those poems too, which I managed by Day 9.

Day 6 used ‘Poetic Lines’ (Alberto Ríos’s article on the Poetic Line), I wrote Picking Blackberries, which is a poem I have carried in my head since the end of March when I started my poetry/Art collaboration with Molly Bythell.  I enjoyed this experiment, I tend to write in short lines, so it was a challenge.

Day 7 explored different layers of identity, I had my powerful and vulnerable voices talk to each other, a contest between the former teacher and the poet, the poet wins of course! I played with anagrams to find the final title – Open at Detacher (which has several meanings to me).


  • Cotton To 
  • The Tiny Objects of a Vast Mind
  • World Going
  • White Matter Changes
  • Apples
  • The Difficult House – Poem Beginning with a line from Sean Nevin

Day 8 I wrote a dedication to Mr. G who puts up with the poetry me. Cotton To.

Day 9 A poem in which something big and something small come together. I spent a long while exploring the art of  Atlanta-based Desirée De León and not writing the first poem I had (learning from ’52’). I sat on it for a while before creating  The Tiny Objects of a Vast Mind.

Day 10 Saw another PoArtry/ Dementia Poems surface. One was an anagram rhyme which was fun to play around with World Going.

Day 11 used number sequencing and resulted in White Matter Changes.

Day 12 I used both the Naponet and Poetry School prompts. I wrote a haibun about where I live called Apples and a poem borrowing the first line from Sean Nevin The Difficult House. I enjoyed both techniques. I am happier with my 2nd poem.

This summer I will be travelling a lot and the history of the Haibun being used to almanac travel has given me an idea though!


Day 13: Keep the Light – a poem using syllabic pattern.

Day 14: Remover – A redux/Chain poem.


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:

  1. (11) Cotton To 
  2. (12) The Tiny Objects of a Vast Mind
  3. (13) World Going
  4. (14) White Matter Changes
  5. (15) Apples
  6. (16) The Difficult HousePoem Beginning with a line from Sean Nevin
  7. (17) Keep the Light 
  8. (18) Remover

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 14



We are two weeks in! Almost at the halfway mark. Unfortunately have not had time to put pen to paper today as I have spent hours working.

I start Week 3 a little behind, but I will catch up. I particularly like today’s prompt and I am sure a little poem will come.


Today, we are two weeks into Na/GloPoWriMo. I hope you feel that your writing is humming along. And if you’ve gotten behind, don’t worry – there’s plenty of time to catch up!

Today’s featured participant is erbiage, for whom the invert-a-familiar-phrase prompt for Day 13 produced very punny results!

Our craft resource for the day is a short piece by Robert Frost, called The Figure a Poem Makes. In it, Frost argues – albeit in somewhat lyrical language (poets don’t always make the clearest prose writers!) – for wildness in poetry – language and meanings that surprise not just the reader, but the writer.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Dream dictionaries have been around as long as people have had dreams. Interestingly, if you consult a few of them, they nearly always tend to have totally different things to say about specific objects or symbols. Dreams, unlike words themselves, don’t seem to be nicely definable! At any rate, today’s prompt is to write entries for an imaginary dream dictionary. Pick one (or more) of the following words, and write about what it means to dream of these things:




Ballet slipper


Wobbly table



Happy writing!

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfullThe Poetry School Day 14

Day 14: The Chain (Redux)

Today’s task is a slight variation on my favourite prompt from last year: The Chain.

First, pick up a book – poetry or prose, it doesn’t matter – open it at random and pick a sentence you like the look of, then choose a word from that sentence. Your first line must include that word somewhere in it.

For your second line, you can write anything, but it must include one word from your first line (the one you’ve just written, not the one in the book). Your third line should include one word from your second line, your fourth line should include one word from your third line, and so on. In every line, you should pluck one word from the line above until your poem reaches its end. NB: the word can go anywhere in the line.

I would like to come back to the Naponet dream prompt, back in my teens I wrote a sequence of poetry based on a dream journal I kept and definitions I found in a dream dictionary. I like the idea of making one up.

I opted for The Poetry School Chain prompt today, at first I wasn’t convinced – being of the school of thought that repetition slips in and often gets edited out but… depending on the word choices you make the frame becomes less obvious. I wrote a poem called Remover.

Obstacles found a special place in his life,

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 13



This morning NaPo has alerted me to the fact that it is Friday 13th, now I am not one for superstition but the internet connection was down this morning, it has taken at least half an hour to sort!

What I love about NaPoWriMo is the various poems you get to read. I enjoyed reading the suggested material this morning (on my Kindle whilst the laptop refused to believe in the possibility of the internet)!


Hello, all. Today is the thirteenth day of Na/GloPoWriMo, and it’s just as lucky as every day in which poetry gets written!

Our featured participant today is lady in the pines, where the haibun for Day Twelve gives this daughter of Minnesotans a taste of nostalgia!

Today, we bring you an interview with Brendan Lorber, whose first full-length book of poetry, If this is paradise why are we still driving?, will be published this spring by Subpress. Lorber’s poetry has appeared in journals including American Poetry ReviewFence, and McSweeney’s. He is the editor and publisher of Lungfull! Magazine, an annual anthology of contemporary literature that publishes rough drafts alongside contributors’ final work. You can read two of Lorber’s recent poems here, and our interview with him here.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always!), drawn from a suggestion provided in Lorber’s interview. Today, we challenge you to write a poem in which the words or meaning of a familiar phrase get up-ended. For example, if you chose the phrase “A stitch in time saves nine,” you might reverse that into something like: “a broken thread; I’m late, so many lost.” Or “It’s raining cats and dogs” might prompt the phrase “Snakes and lizards evaporate into the sky.” Those are both rather haunting, strange images, and exploring them could provide you with an equally haunting, strange poem (or a funny one!)

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfullThe Poetry School Day 13

Moore Syllabics: Day 13 

Nobody likes syllabics — not in English anyway. The free verse lot think it’s just metre in disguise; the formalists think it’s cheating. (Claire Crowther wrote an excellent essay about the whole situation, which you can read here.) But I don’t think you should dismiss it until you’ve had a go.

Syllabic master Marianne Moore’s signature technique was to write a first stanza, usually of irregular line lengths, and then use that stanza as a blueprint for subsequent stanzas. Let’s take a look at the first stanza of ‘Black Earth’: the first line is 4 syllables, the second is 6 (Moore gives ‘natural’ its full 3 syllables), the third is 13, and so is the last. The second stanza follows the same pattern, and so on until the end of the poem. This is what I want you to have a go at.

This prompt can either be used with an old stanza you’re stuck on, or you can write your first stanza especially for it. My only additional rule is that you’re not allowed to break words across lines (‘sub-/Merged’) as Moore does — there’s no challenge to syllabics if you do this.

A meaty challenge from Ali Lewis at The Poetry School today. One that needs some desk time, but is appealing as a new adventure.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing with syllabic form. It resulted in an interesting poem Keep the Light.

to stop it pestering me with its incantation.

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 12



Welcome back, everyone, for another day of poetry, poetry, poetry!

Today, our featured participant is woody and johnny, where the “future self” poem for Day Ten is a cosmic confection.

Our craft resource for the day is an essay by Aimee Nezhukumatathil on writing haibun – a Japanese form that blends prose-based travel writing with haiku.

Today’s (optional) prompt picks up from our craft resource. We’ve challenged you to tackle the haibun in past years, but it’s such a fun one, we couldn’t resist again. Today, we’d like to challenge you specifically to write a haibun that takes in the natural landscape of the place you live. It may be the high sierra, dusty plains, lush rainforest, or a suburbia of tiny, identical houses – but wherever you live, here’s your chance to bring it to life through the charming mix-and-match methodology of haibun.

Happy writing!

In past years I have learnt new (to me) forms through NaPoWriMo, like the Golden Shovel. A haibun is a form I have written before.

In case you haven’t, here’s how.

  • Combining prose poem and haiku.
  • Avoid personal pronouns I, or first-person possessive adjectives (my and mine).
  • Focus on sensory detail.
  • The turn (3rd line of prose poem element).

Though Bashō coined the word haibun, the form as it is today existed in Japan as prefaces and mini-lyric essays even before the seventeenth century (when Bashō first popularized the form). After his famous journey to Mutsu, he crafted a sort of guideline to the form in order to plunge deeper into the aware (pronounced ah-WAR-ay) spirit of haiku. Thus, another important feature of the haibun is not simply to provide a writer a shape in which to jot mundane musings of landscape and travel but also to evoke that sense of aware—the quality of certain objects to evoke longing, sadness, or immediate sympathy. © Academy of American Poets


I wrote a haibun about where I live mixing nature & urban.

It is hard to imagine this street without windows and doors, 

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfullThe Poetry School Day 12

Day 12: Poem Beginning with a Line By…

Today’s task is to write a poem beginning with a line by someone else. There’s a long tradition of these, and they’re a good way of paying homage to a poet or poem you love, but they also work simply as a jumping off point to talk about something else entirely. You can find loads of examples simply by Googling ‘poem beginning with a line by’, the most famous of which are poems borrowing lines from Frank Lima, Pindar and Wittgenstein. Today’s example poem ‘Poem beginning with two lines by André Breton‘ by Peter Sirr.

I have written a poem starting with a borrowed line in workshops before. It is usually a way of taking a poem to a place it may otherwise never have ended up. I like this prompt and am back at work next week (and already concerned I may not be able to keep up with NaPo), so banking a few extra when I have time gives me a safety net.

The hardest thing about this form is choosing the poem to begin with.


I decided to start with internet intentionally looking for a poet I am not familiar with. I decided to go ahead with my Dementia themed work and chose Losing Solomon by Sean Nevin https://100.best-poems.net/losing-solomon.html. I didn’t read the entire poem until I had written mine. I just used the first line;

Things seem to take on a sudden shimmer

During my research on Dementia I discovered people can misconceive the floor as water, or that it is wet (mopped over), I imagine more like 8 inches of water with some furniture floating. The poem covers a few misperceptions.

There is a man standing in the corner of the room,
up to his ankles in water, brogues soaked through.


NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 11




Today’s featured participant is April’s Thirty, where the simultaneity poem for Day Ten is full of small details that contribute to its power.

Our interviewee for the day is Kwoya Fagin Maples. Her first full-length book of poetry, MEND, is forthcoming from the University Press of Kentucky. Maples is also the author of the chapbook Something of Yours, published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press, and her work is published in journals including Blackbird Literary Journal, Obsidian, Berkeley Poetry Review, and the African-American Review. You can read more about MEND, along with some excerpts, here, and you can read our interview with Maples here.

Our (optional, as always) prompt for the day is taken from one of the prompts that Kwoya Fagin Maples suggests in here interview: a poem that addresses the future, answering the questions “What does y(our) future provide? What is your future state of mind? If you are a citizen of the “union” that is your body, what is your future “state of the union” address?”

Happy writing!

I was interested by what I read of Kwoya Fagin Maples. Her interview is particularly enlightened of the work she is currently writing.


5ab39dd423e2c-bpfullThe Poetry School Day 11

Day 11: Counting

In the three example poems today, take note how the poets use the device of numbered sections, of counting, to tell their stories. This is what I want you to do: to use either numbered sections, or counting as a device in some other way, to tell your story.

I presume you’ll all have read this poem by Tara Bergin, but it’s a great example: ‘The True Story of Eleanor Marx in Ten Parts’.

Next up, have a read of ‘New World Hymn’ by Momtaza Mehri.

Finally, for a slightly different approach, here’s Abigail Parry’s ‘The Knife Game’, which can be found at this link on the 14th page, so you’ll have to do a bit of scrolling.

The poems on this prompt make a great read. The link to Abigail Parry’s poem will give you a PDF of many poems. I have saved mine to read at a later stage in the year.

I loved listening to Tara’s reading, I met Tara Bergin at Ledbury Poetry Festival last year. After absorbing all of these prompts I feel inspired to use The Poetry School for my NaPo write today. I have never actually used counting in a poem in this way, love a bit of new territory!


In the end I wrote another poem for the sequence on Dementia. ‘White Matter Changes’. 

I took solace in language not disappearing

The use of numbers sequencing stanzas in a poem about counting, creates an extra layer of confusion/noise which I feel mimics the symptoms and reality of caring for someone suffering the condition. It certainly makes the poem something more than it would be without the device.

It is also the poem with the least amount of editing so far in Napo 2018 and I think I have the numbering to thank for that.



NapoWriMo 2018 Day 10



Come on! We can do this! We are 1/3 of the way through NaPo 2018… I cannot believe it.

This morning I am happy, I have a title for the Working Title Poem of Day 7. I played around with anagrams, I had several to choose from.

  1. Note at Preached/ Preached to Neat / A Taped Coherent / Open at Detacher

This title ‘Open at Detacher’ sums the events/subject of the work up and has life to it.

Titles are hard and a poem without one doesn’t feel fully formed. A title can do so much work for you.


Our featured participant for the day is method two madness, where the small-and-large poem for Day 9 plays with repetition . . . and birds!

Today’s craft resource is this fascinating article that details the writing and revision process for a poem by former U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey. It provides a really unique glimpse into a writer’s process, and the steps by which a poem takes its final shape.

Finally, here is our (optional) daily prompt. Usually, we take inspiration from our craft resource, but since our resource is about revision, we’ll go a bit further afield for this one! Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of simultaneity – in which multiple things are happing at once. A nice example might be Emily Dickinson’s “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died”, or this powerful poem by Sarah Green.

Happy writing!

5ab39dd423e2c-bpfullThe Poetry School Day 10

Day 10: Anagram Rhyme 

Morning poets. After a couple of days of being nice, I’m back to the difficult prompts. This one does what it says on the tin. I’d like you to write a poem using anagram rhyme — that is, your rhyming words should be anagrams of each other. Have a look at ‘The Heron’ by Randall Mann and ‘Illustration from Parsifal’ by Richie Hofmann to get the idea. These two are in couplets but yours doesn’t have to be.

This sounds challenging and amuses me as I have spent the morning playing with anagrams for my title.


I may need a stronger coffee!

I spent a good half an hour searching rhyming anagrams

https://wordsmith.org/anagram/ deciding I had enough, I set about writing a rhyming poem. I rarely rhyme my work so the technique of starting with the end-rhyme was helpful.

Again I wrote a piece based on Dementia for the PoArtry project, I am not sure it will be used in full but there be the odd line or stanza that will transfer or become something else. There was a certain restriction with this writing challenge.

It took a while to edit to a poem I am vaguely happy with. It captures sadness and uses rhyming anagrams, although I have rearranged the line breaks so it is not obviously to the eye, which echoes the subject matter.

we navigated tundra endings,