Tag Archives: Poetry of Occasion

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 25

Day Twenty-Five Click here to read the full post.

Our featured participants for the day are Sunra Rainz, who gives us a poem in which sorrow and other minor-key feelings become flying insects, and Paula Aamli, who has turned rage into a strange, burrowing parrot.

Today’s featured reading is a pre-recorded one, a video showing selections from two poetry readings given by John Ashbery and Barbara Guest, both associated with the “New York School” of poetry, in the mid-1990s.

Our prompt is to write an “occasional” poem, a poem suited to, or written for, a particular occasion. This past January, lots of people who usually don’t encounter poetry got a dose when Amanda Gorman read a poem at President Biden’s inauguration. And then she followed it up with a poem at the Superbowl.

Happy writing!


I was delighted to see someone I know had their poem featured today, I met N. Nazir at poetry events over Lockdown 1 and spent a large time this morning and afternoon reading through her blog.

Today I had an off-screen-almost-day. I had a festival event, meeting and Book Launch. I have fallen behind with Napo a little over the past few days. But wasn’t worried as I had some time carved out today (Monday 26th) to play catch up.

I started over with the featured poems, starting on Sunra Rainz with Luminous Diptera. I loved the opening stanzas:

Sorrow is the most efficient light-producing entity in the world. 
Its luciferous quality communicates with other woes
and their similar dance steps attract each other.

Despair flies around with its unique firework display 
while calculation sits perched on a branch waiting 
for its own particular brand of ache to arrive.

and these lines, which rest, settle and linger:

Some despairs synchronise their flashing patterns to attract more calculations 

Each sorrow has its own particular colour. 

The fascinating thing is that sorrows have their own language. 

The base text/ information (from several sources David Attenborough, Planet Earth, BBC, National Geographic and Ecowatch.com) is cleverly weaved into this poem.

I listened again to the second feature poem Rage is the thing with wings by Paula Aamli, which also cleverly reimagines the original text and I realise both poets have exchanged concrete for emotion, whereas I chose concrete for a different noun. This does effect the outcome or effectiveness of the prompt and is one I shall maybe revisit.

Again, this poem has a striking opening:

Rage is a real oddity.
Rage is nocturnal and solitary.

Rage often leaps from trees
And flaps its wings,
But at best can only manage
A controlled plummet.

and the ending… omph!

Rage has no close relatives.

Grief and anger are the only species
With which rage might be confused.

I know a little about the New York School of poets. I listened to today’s reading as I found watching old video footage from the mid-90s a bit of a strain (although I appreciated the jazzy intro music and the work videographer Mitch Corber put in).

I hadn’t read any of Barbara Guest‘s work before and thoroughly enjoyed her reading.

Poets John Ashbery and Barbara Guest recite in New York City in the mid-’90s, captured by videographer/poet Mitch Corber. Ashbery performs in the intimacy of Chelsea bookstore Verso Books, while Guest entertains us at the St. Marks Poetry Project.

Find out more on the New York School of Poets – First generation poets / Second generation poets.

I had already enjoyed Amanda Gorman’s reading many times in January, when it was made, but I watched her again.

Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, read an original work at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. After Biden was sworn in as the nation’s 46th president, Gorman read “The Hill We Climb,” building on a tradition of poets — including Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco — who have read for incoming Democratic presidents. Gorman is the youngest of these inaugural poets to offer her verse.

I knew she had read at the Superbowl but hadn’t seen it.

And a day late, I wrote my own occasion poem.

And it almost feels

you could be the answer

to all of this.