Tag Archives: Poetry Foundation

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 22


Day Twenty-Two

I just couldn’t choose one featured participant for the day, so we have two, both providing responses to Day 20’s “abstraction” prompt. First up is Salovie, with a mysterious meditation on the desert, and second, Christine Smart, with a brief lyric centered on spring blooms.

Today’s featured resource is the Open House poetry radio program. On each program, hosts Cornelius Eady and Patricia Spears Jones interview poets about their new and recent work. You can listen online, or live every Friday on NYC’s WBAI.

Today’s prompt is a variation on a teaching exercise that the poet Anne Boyer uses with students studying the work of Emily Dickinson. As you may know, although Dickinson is now considered one of the most original and finest poets the United States has produced, she was not recognized in her own time. One reason her poems took a while to gain a favorable reception is their slippery, dash-filled lines. Those dashes baffled her readers so much that the 1924 edition of her complete poems replaced some with commas, and did away with others completely.

Today’s exercise asks you to do something similar, but in the interests of creativity, rather than ill-conceived “correction.” Find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it! (Not sure where to find some Dickinson poems? You’ll find oodles at the bottom of this page).

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Process Notes:

I read the NaPo page before work this morning. I was looking forward to the prompt as I love Emily Dickinson. During Lockdown I discovered the Emily Dickinson Museum and spent a lot of time at events and workshops as well as making future plans to visit (once I have earned back the wages I lost during my ill-health year and then the Pandemic).

So I have quite a few Emily Dickinson inspired poems I’ve written but I have never started with her work.

I started with the featured poems. The first poem, Belief by Salovie was incredible. Such a huge world inside such a thin poem. I read it over and over and loved the ending, the feeling of this poem and the created word! I haven’t got a tumblr account but am enjoying seeing through NaPo that people are still using that platform.

After being blown away by the first featured poem, I read the next one. Calm by Christine Smart – which was the same word I chose for mine. I love a plum tree and found this considered thought to be meditative. I also liked the use of blending words into one word to create the invented word.

I know today’s resource and listened to one of the programmes as I got ready this morning.

I look forward to listening to more soon and have added it to the list.

I read Anne Boyer’s bio and the page about Emily.

I have several tomes of Dickinson’s poems but unable to resist a link I checked out the Poetry Foundation page and chose from there. There are obstacles between the desk and the bookcase – so it was easier too.

I read about twenty poems and eventually chose Wild nights – Wild nights! (269) and settled down to pen today’s poem. Shifting the poem into a block of prose makes it feel different immediately, although reading it I hold Dickinson’s rhythm. I already had my idea in mind when I read the poem and that’s why I chose it – but I have no idea how I am going to write that into it – I am just going to do it and see what happens.

I ended up writing an extremely personal poem which I may never share. Apt in a way. Because it was from a Dickinson poem the voice and structure feels like something I may not have arrived at without that frame being the starting point.

muscle memory, now our luxury.

I really enjoyed today’s NaPo – maybe it was the relief of time after a working week of squeezing NaPo in. I also managed to get to the A Common Sense Reading series this evening, there was a great Q&A/ discussion afterwards and lots of links shared.

It was lovely being on the call in real-time. I feel I may have found this resource too late as the next part f the programme restarts in Autumn and like most events is back to LIVE. However, Jordan Stempleman is planning to keep some readings online and I do have the archives to look forward to.

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 19


Day Nineteen

Today’s featured participant is Elizabeth Burnam Poetry, where the abecedarian poem for Day 18 goes all the way down the alphabet and then all the way back up, while mocking corporate discourse.

For today’s daily resource I’d like to share this article about poetry and TikTok. When I first started writing poetry seriously, blogs were the big thing. That was twenty-five years ago, and now there’s poetry Twitter and poetry on Instagram and, yes, as new technology builds atop the old, poetry on TikTok.


For this challenge, start by reading Marlanda Dekine’s poem “My Grandma Told Stories or Cautionary Tales.” One common feature of childhood is the monsters. The ones under the bed or in the closet; the odd local monsters that other kids swear roam the creek at night, or that parents say wait to steal away naughty children that don’t go to bed on time. Now, cast your mind back to your own childhood and write a poem about something that scared you – or was used to scare you – and which still haunts you (if only a little bit) today.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Process Notes:

I didn’t have time to read through today’s page before work and I have just spent an hour slogging away at my abecedarian poem… I land here on Day 19, tired but willing and happy over the prospect of reading new poetry. I am in awe of Elizabeth Burnam for writing a poem which travels down and back up the alphabet! Can’t imagine how long that took.

The featured poem THE ABCS OF CORPORATE SURVIVAL was written with both short and long lines – as abecedarian poems often are as you work towards the next letter.

good adults 
have data-driven hope & only wear black or white,

money, men & metrics! money, men & metrics! 
no hard stances, title changes, or second chances. 

rehearse our responses ahead of time (for transparency). 

y.... ... unemployment is just a 
Zoom call away, ...

Try reading this poem out loud, the sonic wordplay is abundant!

I then went onto the poetry resources, checking out the article first. It was a little frustrating that the website wouldn’t load the page properly so I couldn’t read beyond the headline. I have never used TikTok or encountered the poetry scene on it – but I imagine it’s similar to instapoetry in brevity. I guess thepopularization of simplistic poetryis something you like or don’t. I can’t really argue against 11 million copies… but it isn’t for everyone.

I couldn’t leave the article as a mystery – so with multiple searches I managed to read most of it ^ hence quoting from it. Plagiarism is appalling and it seems to happen to most of us at some point! One thing worse than plagiarism is being falsely accused of it. The world of technology/internet has a lot to answer for and now we have AI poetry to grapple with as well!

I scrolled some twitter poems and instapoems – I don’t have TikTok, but Bella the Poet, (who is not yet 1 by the looks of her) says it all (not that I saw/heard the video) –

… well, if you can’t beat them…

Finally with relief I am onto the prompt. I listened to MARLANDA DEKINE‘s poem My Grandma Told Stories or Cautionary Tales. This poem has soul. I love the Poetry Foundation website and get excited when I see the audio icon, there is nothing quite like hearing a poet voice their own work. It drives deep.

I remember writing for this prompt before. I have a short collection of poems about things I am afraid of. I could write about my topical fear of instapoetry – but I think ‘ll stick to childhood monsters… a time before all these platforms existed. Under the bed has never seemed more welcoming!

First I had to pick my topic, I mentally listed all the childhood fear poems already written and eventually concluded my choices were horror films or giants. I went with the latter (which actually stemmed from a scene in a Jack & the Beanstalk Pantomime I witnessed aged 3 or 4)!

In the end I did a quick mythological search and wrote a short poem (14 lines) about how repulsive a giant is, how frightening a character for a children’s story, how they gave me nightmares.

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 9


Day Nine

Our daily participant is To Create . . . where Day Eight’s “twenty projects” prompt resulted in a breathtakingly claustrophobic family memory.

Today’s poetry resource is UbuWeb, a vast repository of the avant-garde. You could get lost for days among the films, audio recordings, PDFs of small press publications, and other oddities here… check out the “365 Days Project.”


We’re calling today Sonnet Sunday, as we’re challenging you to write in what is probably the most robust poetic form in English. A traditional sonnet is 14 lines long, with each line having ten syllables that are in iambic pentameter (where an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable). While love is a very common theme in sonnets, they’re also known for having a kind of argumentative logic, in which a problem is posed in the first eight lines or so, discussed or argued about in the next four, and then resolved in the last two lines.

A very traditional sonnet will rhyme, though there are a variety of different rhyme schemes.

Today, sonnets are probably most commonly associated with Shakespeare (who wrote more than 150, and felt very little compunction about messing around with the form, at least to the extent of regularly saying “who cares” to strict iambs). But poets’ attention to the form hasn’t waned in the 400 years or so since the Bard walked the fields around Stratford-upon-Avon and tramped the stage-boards of Merrie Old England. Take a look at this little selection of contemporary sonnets by Dennis JohnsonAlice NotleyRobert Hass, and Jill Alexander Essbaum. You’ll notice that while all of these poems play in some way on the theme of love, they are tonally extremely different – as is the kind or quality of love that they discuss. Some rhyme, some don’t. They mostly stick to around 14 lines but They’re also not at all shy about incorporating contemporary references (the Rolling Stones, telephones, etc).

Today, we’d like to challenge you to write your own sonnet. Incorporate tradition as much or as little as you like – while keeping in general to the theme of “love.”

Happy writing!

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Process Notes

I did manage to read the NaPo post yesterday and the featured poem and the fantastically rich resource. Today (Day 10), I prove if you miss a prompt you can catch up if you want to. I am hesitant on the amount of time I have spare to write a sonnet and something for Day 10 – but here I go, approaching one of my least favourite genres* and one I know will take some time.

*I love reading sonnets and am always impressed when I hear a really good poem and then the poet mentions it was a sonnet. The ones I write always come out clunky and forced. Although a few have made good-not-quite-a-sonnet poems.

Today’s featured poem Prismojen was truly amazing – I found the prompt almost asked for an incohesive poem, but here is a poem which makes complete narrative sense. Incredible. Strong, emotive, spectacular work and I don’t see any of the scaffold of the prompt.

The evocative first line, holds such strength and potential;

The house was a box of dynamite

I can’t remember how many,
but I remember the feeling of unknowing

I’ve read the poem several times now and nothing diminishes, I recommend you read today’s featured poem. Lex Leonard is a multi-disciplined creative, check out her website to explore artwork and more.

Today’s poetry resource was a good one too. They are all good, but some work better for me than others and this one is on the MUST Re-visit list! UbuWeb is a treasure trove. I visited:

Film & Video



Visual Poetry

and the About page.

I linked through multiple resources and felt sparks from all of them. When I have time in a few months or so, I will return to UbuWeb for a proper deep dive!

So… Sonnets…

Over the years I have done a lot of work (research) into sonnets in the hope of cracking my barrier to them. I avoided them for years and since deciding to confront them I have attempted them in different styles, there are variations of the form I know already – but to refresh I visited the suggested poetic glossary for a read-through. Like many of us I am familiar with the wonderful Poetry Foundation website. This page has lots of examples of poems, reading always helps.

Thinking of them as  a “little song,” may help also.

In the end I cherry picked – the iambic pentameter and 14 lines and just wrote.

you’re inside my heart not this white bedroom,

Speaking of Sonnets and Shakespeare – this is the perfect post to mention this anthology, launching later this month.

It’s a collection of poems about Anne Hathaway, it is a delight to be included along with so many great poets I admire.

For four centuries Anne Shakespeare, née Hathaway, has been in her famous husband’s shadow. It’s high time she had a book of her own. This bold and ground-breaking volume places her centre-stage and encourages us to re-imagine Anne in her own right, and afresh for our own times. – © 2022 by Broken Sleep Books

More on the book here Broken Sleep Books.

The book launch happens after a one day event The Shakespeare Birthday Lecture & One Day Conference400 Years of the First Folio; 400 Years of Anne Shakespeare, at The Shakespeare Institute. Online tickets are available.

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 7


Day Seven

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

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

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


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

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

TOP TIPS (to keep going)

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

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Process Notes:

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

you kiss your own breath

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

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

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

The poem The List of Famous Hats was greatly amusing.

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

A county of many facets

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 7


Day Seven Click here for the full post.

Today marks the end of the first week of Na/GloPoWriMo 2021. Our featured participant today infinebow, where the prompt for Day 6 led to a chatty-and-dreamy poem about salt and other things.

Today’s reading is a live event sponsored by Cornell University that will take place tomorrow, April 8, at 7 p.m. eastern daylight time. It features the poet Camonghne Felix.

Prompt: There are many different poetic forms. Some have specific line counts, syllable counts, stresses, rhymes, or a mix-and-match of the above… Today, I’d like to challenge you to pick from two – the shadorma, and the Fib.

The shadorma is a six-line, 26-syllable poem (or a stanza – you can write a poem that is made of multiple shadorma stanzas). The syllable count by line is 3/5/3/3/7/5. Rather poetically, the origin of the shadorma is mysterious…

Our second syllabic form is much more forthright about its recent origins. Like the shadorma, the Fib is a six-line form. But now, the syllable count is based off the Fibonacci sequence of 1/1/2/3/5/8. You can  link multiple Fibs together into a multi-stanza poem, or even start going backwards after your first six lines, with syllable counts of 8/5/3/2/1/1. Lots of things in the natural world hew to the sequence – like pinecones and flower petals. And now your poems can, too.

Happy writing!


Due to an oversight in the diary (a clashing event which was actually the night before), I did manage to see the beginning of the Open Door: Mairead Case, Kenyatta Rogers, Erika Hodges and Israel Solis Jr Poetry Foundation Reading – which was wonderful. Unfortunately, I was watching from bed as it started just after 1 AM and was asleep before the end.

I watched Mairead Case read from Tiny, I listened to Erika Hodges and most of Kenyatta Rogers. They were all superb readings and had it not been so late, I may have made it through.

The Open Door series presents work from new and emerging poets, and highlights writing instruction and poetic partnerships. Each event features readings by two Chicagoland writers and two of their current or recent students or writing partners.

Mairead Case writes and teaches in Denver and Chicago. Case is the author of Tiny, See You In the Morning, TENDERNESS, and To The Teeth, a column at Entropy. She publishes and edits widely, with work most recently in Poetry, JSTOR Daily, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Media Institute, Public Collectors, and Maggot Brain, where she is the Associate Editor. She teaches at Naropa University, the Colorado School of Mines, GALS Denver, and inside the Denver Women’s Jail. Case holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD from the University of Denver, and, as an abolitionist, has been a Legal Observer with the NLG for over a decade.

Erika Hodges is a gender expansive poet and performance artist living and breathing somewhere between Brooklyn and Boulder. They are a graduate of Naropa University and an MFA candidate at Pratt Institute. Hodges’s work can be found at Flag + Void, CALYX, The Adirondack Review, and The Poetry Project, among others. A 2021 Can Serrat residency fellow as well as a Brooklyn Poets Fellow, Hodges works as a poet’s assistant, editor, and archivist. Their work and life is deeply devoted to queer love, troubling borders and binaries, and the idea of lineage and poetry as a sort of home. They will be pursuing their JD next fall, where they hope to continue the work of shaping language that can move us toward liberation.

Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem Fellow, and has been awarded scholarships from the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference; he has also been nominated multiple times for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. Rogers’s work has been previously published in Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, The Volta, PANK, and MAKE Magazine, among others. He is a lead teacher and lecturer at the Poetry Foundation’s Summer Teacher Institute and Chautauqua Institution’s Young Writer Institute. He is also a cohost of the Sunday Reading Series with Simone Muench, and serves on the Creative Writing Faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts.

Israel Solis, Jr. is a 17-year-old Latino born and raised in Chicago; he will soon graduate from the Chicago High School for the Arts, majoring in poetry. He plans to study journalism and one day publish his own poetry collection. Most of his writing centers around illness, life, death, the things that follow death; his inspiration comes from being raised in a very religious household, witnessing death, and questioning existence.

Maybe it is because I’m feeling tired but it occurred to me as I visited the participant’s site this morning that I couldn’t remember yesterday’s prompt, so was reading this poem without knowing where it came from (which is what happens to all our NaPo poems in the end). Salt—Poem – I remember now we were using a line of text as title to start our write and then redact the title. I liked the story inside this poem and the use of salt throughout.

ever since I’ve been eating cold rice
hot ones sizzle in my strawberry mouth

I registered for Camonghne Felix’s Reading, but again it is midnight – 1AM BST and follows a night of SpeakEasy, so it is unlikely I will manage to stay awake.

If you want more poetry join us!


I was not aware of the Fibonacci Code until 2016, if I had been introduced to it as a child I had forgotten it. I discovered Fibonacci poetry around the same time (apparently founded 10 years earlier by Gregory K. Pincus), I’ve written some and used the form in school workshops before. Despite this basic grounding I had a good read of the articles and related links. I had come across the Shadorma before (probably through Writer’s Digest, who have a great page on forms), but hadn’t written one.

Having just experienced something medical related this morning that was what I wrote about, the shortness of the syllable count/lines added a certain urgency to the poem which suited the subject well.

one large white tablet saves you

I then went on to revisit Fibonacci poetry, which I haven’t written for years.

I wanted to write about something other than the subject of the first poem, but another body poem came out. Perfectly formed in the correct syllables – sometimes this happens in short form number based forms- you naturally start to write to the rhythm.

body ready for the scrapheap

Sometimes Napo prompts lend themselves to hours of research and writing, other times they are completed in a flash. I will revisit these forms again when I have more time to spend with them. There is a lot on today’s TO DO list and for me NaPo today is done!

Congratulations on making it through 1 week of NaPoWriMo! Well done!