For National Poetry Month this year I’ve organized three events on the campus of my community college. These include a visual poem workshop, a poetry workshop & we’re closing out the month with Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 26th.
I’m also writing & revising & submitting. I’m not doing a structured 30 for 30 this April but I did subscribe to Megan Falley’s lovely website. Check it out here and sign up for the excellent prompts Megan supplied for National Poetry Month. My students and I wrote over #3 this morning with some really interesting results.
So I didn’t write 30 poems for National Poetry Month this year. I wrote about 20 and I’m thrilled. As my officemate said to me yesterday morning, that’s more poems than you wrote last April, right? Exactly.
So now I have a ton of work to revise, which is super because I haven’t send much work out into the world in the last year or so. I’m very much a fits and starts poet. I always have been and probably always will be. I don’t have designated writing times. I don’t have one specific place where I write. I don’t have a specific journal. I have about three journals going right now. This doesn’t include all of the notes I have on my phone. I definitely have a process, but it’s messy and constantly changing and it suits me just fine.
Could I be more prolific if I had a steady routine? Maybe. I used to worry about my routine. I used to worry about whether I was writing “small poems” that anyone would read. I used to worry that I had nothing to say. I used to worry that my point of view wasn’t fresh or sexy or whatever.
I used to worry about my poetry a lot. I still do in the quiet hours of the morning when I wake up at 4 AM and can’t turn my brain off, but then I remember that ultimately, for me, poetry is a selfish exercise. I write poems as way to process the world. Ultimately I keep writing and reading poetry because I want to get better at channeling the human experience into words. That’s what we (poets) are all trying to do, and I think many of us, are trying to do it with love and with great care. We’re not perfect. I’m certainly not, but perfection isn’t really the point anyway, or at least it has never been in my world.
I like the drafts I wrote for National Poetry Month and I was pleased to share some of the prompts with my students during the month of April. Yesterday, during one of my portfolio conferences, a student brought a draft of a poem she wrote from one of our shared prompts. We chatted about it for around 15 minutes and ultimately she decided to include it in her portfolio even though she thinks she’s “terrible at poetry.”
Special shout out to Two Sylvias Press for providing excellent prompts and just being awesome overall.
Also, to all my poet/writer friends, I’m involved in a brand new venture: The Indianapolis Review and we are currently open for submissions of poetry and original artwork. Please check out our website and send us some work. We’d love to read it!
The last time I did a poem a day for National Poetry month, I solicited prompts from people. It was part of Tupelo’s 30/30 project, so folks made donations and I wrote poems. I churned through the prompts that came in, but for probably about half the month, I found myself writing without a prompt.
It’s not that I need prompts. The one thing I’ve yet to have trouble with in my poetry life is finding a subject. Whether or not I write successful or interesting poems about those subjects is something else entirely, but I can usually find something that’s knocking around in my brain.
What I’ve discovered so far this time around (and it is early days yet) is I like writing from prompts. I also like the advice that came with one of the prompts from Two Sylvia’s Press, which is to set a timer. Whatever you have after you timer goes off, that’s the first draft of your poem.
I’m a full time faculty member at a community college where I teach five classes. I’m lucky in the respect that only one of those classes is comp, but I still spend a crazy amount of time reading and commenting on student work (can I get a hell yeah from my fellow teachers?), so finding time to write is always a struggle. It’s true that if I get an idea I might let it roll around in my head for a bit before I try to put it down on paper, but if I can just get a draft down in a 10-15 minutes, at least I have something tangible to work with in revision.
This is all to say that I took a fifteen minute break from grading this afternoon and wrote my poem for today. It’s not a perfect draft by any stretch of the imagination, but as I often tell my students, it doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to exist.
Subjects covered in my poems for days 2-4: mobile therapists, mental health apps, siblings, lemons, class discrepancies, trapper keepers, shells, cracks in plaster ceilings, dolls and trips to the mall.
It’s April 1st. The tulips that I planted last fall are starting to bloom despite being ravaged by squirrels. The flowering trees are out in a full force and we’re in the final month of the spring semester. It’s also the first day of National Poetry Month and I’m writing a poem a day. Again.
This year I’m writing with prompts supplied by the wonderful and excellent Two Sylvia’s Press and I’m going to try to keep updates flowing through my blog.
This morning I woke up to this prompt: “Write a persona poem from the point of view of a historical figure that has time traveled to this year and is shocked by what he/she sees.”
The idea for this one came pretty quickly as I’ve been thinking about a poem that already kind of fits these criteria. I doubt subsequent poems will come as easy.
The content of poem number one involves a college classroom, grass, geese, a magnolia tree, fluorescent lights and a man with one excellent beard.
My thirtieth poem for 30/30, “Elegy” is live. For more information about Tupelo Press, 30/30 & donations and incentives, please see my previous post or visit the project blog. Thank you to everyone who supported my efforts during the month of April. I really enjoyed this project and I’m glad I decided to participate. I’ll be writing a debrief post of sorts in the next few weeks, but for now, enjoy the last round of poems and the last day of National Poetry Month. Don’t forget today is “Poem in Your Pocket” Day.
My twenty ninth poem for 30/30, “Discovering the Cosmos” is live. For more information about Tupelo Press, 30/30 & donations and incentives, please see my previous post or visit the project blog. One more poem to go!
My twenty eighth poem for 30/30, “A Mother’s Prayer for Her Daughter’s Body” is live. For more information about Tupelo Press, 30/30 & donations and incentives, please see my previous post or visit the project blog. This poem was written for my friend and fellow poet, Karissa Knox Sorrell. Thanks for your support!
My twenty seventh poem for 30/30, “Palo & Francesca” is live. For more information about Tupelo Press, 30/30 & donations and incentives, please see my previous post or visit the project blog. This poem was written for Kathryn Wilbanks who discovered and donated to 30/30 through my good friend Sam Snoek Brown. She’s one of his students, so thanks to you, Kathryn, and to Sam for sharing this project with your students.
My twenty sixth poem for 30/30, “Farewell” is live. For more information about Tupelo Press, 30/30 & donations and incentives, please see my previous post or visit the project blog. This poem is for Sarah Diaz, who requested a poem featuring “marriage.” If you’re not familiar with the story of Orpheus & Eurydice, you can find a link to the story here.