Saturday, March 26, 2016

Prompt #251 – National Poetry Month 2016



"Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own."
― Dylan Thomas


Established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month begins on April 1st and runs through April 30th. The largest literary celebration in the world, this month-long celebration of poetry is held every April “to widen the attention of individuals and the media to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern.” During April, poets, poetry lovers, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and schools throughout the United States celebrate poetry.

One of the challenges of NPM is to read and/or write a poem every day. So ... in the spirit of the observance, as I’ve done for the past five years, I offer you what I hope will inspire you on each of April’s thirty days.


Guidelines:

1. Each day, think about the key word (in caps next to the date).

2. Then click on the link below the title, and read the poem—one each day of the month. Let each day’s poem inspire you.

3. After thinking a bit about the content of the poem you read, identify something in that poem that “strikes a chord” for you.

4. Working from that “chord,” try to write a poem of your own that somehow incorporates the key word (doesn’t have to be exact) and that may or may involve content similar to the example poem.

5. I’ve deliberately made some leaps in the ways my key words sometimes differ from the content of the poems to which I’ve matched them—take some leaps yourself!

Tips:

1. Don’t feel compelled to match your content to the examples’—in fact, do just the opposite and make your poems as different as you possibly can. The inspiration titles and the example poems are only intended to trigger some poetry-spark that’s unique to you, to guide your thinking a little—don’t let them enter too deeply into your poems, don’t let their content become your content.

2. Let your reactions to the key words and poems surprise you. Begin with no expectations, and let your poems take you where they want to go.

3. Give the topics your own spin, twist and turn them, let the phrases trigger personal responses: pin down your ghosts, identify your frailties, build bridges and cross rivers, take chances!

4. Keep in mind that writing a poem a day doesn’t mean you have to “finish” each poem immediately. You can write a draft each day and set your drafts aside to work on later.

5. I've added some additional tips after the list of dates and poems, so be sure to check them out!

6. Whatever you do this month, find some time (a little or a lot) to enjoy poetry!


As always, your sharing is welcome,
so please consider this an invitation to 
post your thoughts and poems as comments!

Regular weekly prompts will resume on April 30th.
In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful and poetry-filled April!
Happy National Poetry Month!



April 1—REMEMBRANCE
“If You Forget Me” by Pablo Neruda

 
April 2—THE COLOR RED
“The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams


April 3—AGING
“When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats


April 4—PEACE OF MIND
“Where the Mind Is Without Fear” by Rabindranath Tagore


April 5—SOUND or SOUNDS
“Echo” by Christina Rossetti


April 6—MUSIC
“I Am in Need of Music” by Elizabeth Bishop


April 7—A DAY TO REMEMBER
“A Golden Day” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar


April 8—BEING ALONE
“Alone Looking at the Mountain” by Li Po


April 9—HAPPINESS
“A Moment of Happiness” by Jalal al-Din Rumi


April 10—LOVE
“April Love” by Ernest Christopher Dowson


April 11—POETRY
“My Husband Discovers Poetry” by Diane Lockward


April 12—PATTERNS
“Patterns” by Amy Lowell


April 13—RAIN
“The Rain” by Robert Creeley


April 14—BOREDOM
“Dream Song 14” by John Berryman


April 15—PROMISES
“The Promise” by Jane Hirschfield


April 16—INDIFFERENCE
“Twilight” by Henri Cole


April 17—SOMETHING GOOD
“One Good Thing” by Edwin Romond


April 18—LISTENING
“The Risk of Listening to Brahms” by Michael T. Young


April 19—CHANGES
“The Moment I Knew My Life Had Changed” by Maria Mazziotti Gillan


April 20—WAKING
“Why I Wake Early’ by Mary Oliver (Audio)


April 21—FAILURES
“Failure” by Philip Schultz


April 22—SOMETHING LOST
“Atlantis—A Lost Sonnet” by Eavan Boland


April 23—REFLECTION
“I Have a Theory about Reflection” by Renee Ashley


April 24—YES
“Yes” by Catherine Doty


April 25—PLANETS AND STARS
“The Astronomer” By Laura Boss


April 26—THE FUTIRE
“To the Next Centuries” by James Richardson


April 27—CARS
“Which Way Is Up?” by Tony Gruenewald


April 28—DIRECTIONS
“You Are My GPS” by Linda Radice


April 29—NEWSPAPERS
“The Star-Ledger” by BJ Ward


April 30—WEATHER/WEATHERS
“A History of Weather” by Billy Collins


Caveats:
 

1. Try to write in the active, not the passive, voice. To do that, it can be helpful to remove “ing” endings and to write in the present tense (this will also create a greater sense of immediacy).

2. Be on the lookout for prepositional phrases that you might remove (articles & conjunctions too).

3. The great author Mark Twain once wrote, “When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when close together. They give strength when they are wide apart.” This is especially true in poetry. So ... as you work on a poem, think about adjectives and which ones your poem can live without. (Often the concept is already in the noun, and you don’t need a lot of adjectives to convey your meaning.)

4. Avoid clichés (and, while you’re at it, stay away from abstractions and sentimentality).

5. Show, don’t tell—through striking imagery, a strong emotional center, and an integrated whole of language, form and meaning.

6. Challenge the ordinary, connect, reveal, surprise! And … remember that a poem should mean more than the words it contains.

7. Create a new resonance for your readers, a lit spark that doesn’t go out when the poem is “over.”

8. If you take a risk, make it a big one; if your poem is edgy, take it all the way to the farthest edge.

9. Understand that overstatement and the obvious are deadly when it comes to writing poetry. Don’t ramble on, and don’t try to explain everything. Think about this: a poem with only five great lines should be five lines long.

10. Bring your poem to closure with a dazzling dismount. (Be careful not to undercut your poem’s “authority” by ending with trivia or a “so what” line that doesn’t make your readers gasp.)


Happy Poetry Month!


83 comments:

  1. Happy Poetry Month, Adele! I am looking forward to reading the poems listed above and the poems written in response to them. I can't believe how quickly another year has passed!

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    Replies
    1. Happy Poetry Month, Lewis! I hope you find enjoyment and inspiration on the blog this April! (Yes, time has a way of flying by!)

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  2. Until Death...

    WTF?
    Until death do us part?
    Never
    I am with you
    now
    and forever
    in this life
    and
    any further manifestations

    How could I forget you?
    or you Me?
    I am you
    I move with you
    I stop when you stop
    sing
    and
    laugh
    with you

    There is no death
    just transformation

    As wind blows
    waters flow

    I am with you now
    and
    forever

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Risa,

      I look forward reading your poems in response to the above prompts. 'Until Death' is a great start. Of its scope, they say the universe is without limit. Your poem certainly projects exactly that.

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    2. What a great way to start National Poetry Month, Risa! Thanks so much for sharing—hope we her more from you!

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. ##Remembrance


    After
    midnight, ghostly
    laughter

    invades
    memory's time
    thinned glades.

    Heart skips,
    grows colder; like
    your lips.

    - Ryan Stone

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Ryan! Thanks so much for sharing your poem, which beautifully conveys a sense of loss and longing.

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  5. The Color Red

    All the sets were
    shades of
    blue brown and grey

    An unexpected
    dash
    of outside spring

    A dull world really

    Here and there, though
    red
    red this and red that
    red lips in a grey world

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful, as always, Risa! Thanks for sharing!

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    2. "An unexpected dash of outside spring." I love that line and the unexpected conclusion to the poem. Always a fresh feel to your poems Risa.

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  6. Just a flash
    Too much
    would be a blood bath
    red

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful use of red as something ominous, and in your direct, concise style. Thanks again for sharing!

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    2. This is what I call a perfect example of a Risa poem— never too much, always just right. I love the use of the words 'flash' and 'blood', brought to mind the image of a flash flood river of blood.

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  7. Aging

    Accepting
    new limitations
    Loving
    the slowing down
    Creating
    new focus
    new projects
    Appreciating
    every
    breath

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Risa, I could not think of a better word than 'accepting.' With that single word, you manage to say it all. A very uplifting poem.

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  8. A Peaceful Mind

    precious peace
    precious little
    big and small aggressions
    continually committed
    personally and collectively
    smile at that image
    reflected in your mirror

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love the contrast of the words 'peace' and 'aggression' and the potential to smile at the face of both. A powerful little-big poem, as usual, Risa.

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    2. Ditto, Lewis! A wonderful poem, Risa. Thanks for sharing with us!

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  9. Thank you Lewis for reading my poems and offering your comments!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for writing the poems, Risa, they really are little gems whose dazzle continues to shine even after reading them. And I'll say it again I have no idea how you manage to write in the way you do. I have tried to replicate the Risa style...I can't so it's best to leave it with you. :)

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  10. Sound

    "Mother!
    What are you doing here?
    Mother!"
    calling my name
    in the dead of night
    the sound
    penetrated my sleep
    my consciousness
    touching my heart
    plucking the strings
    of my soul
    then
    silence

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Memories and dreams ...

      Thanks for sharing, Risa!

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  11. That's an interesting prompt! I'll try it out. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Fida! Enjoy!

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  12. The poem is beautiful and deeply evocative. Wow!— "Calling my name in the dead of night." Also, brought to mind the times that I have wondered at the relationship between sound and silence, so mysterious. And how while listening to the surrounding sounds can bring about that sense of inner quiet. Thank you, Risa.

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  13. Music

    Heavenly musicians and dancers
    entertain the divas

    Songbirds
    welcome
    dawn and dusk
    on this earthly realm

    Surrounded
    by the music of life
    my heart
    beats

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A remarkable poem. I'm imagining— listening to the pulse of life the bird translating it as the song of dusk and dawn— Risa the poet-songbird. :)

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    2. this poet song bird sings your praises too!

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  14. For Adele and Risa. Inspired by the prompt and Risa's poem 'Music' —


    The Poets

    The song of remarkable poets
    we hear at dusk and dawn.
    Stop— listen to the pulse of life
    the birds are translating.

    ~ ~ ~

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    Replies
    1. I just found this Lewis! Thank you so much. I love the idea of the birds translating and your injunction to stop and listen.

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  15. A Day to Remember

    time stood still
    the world stopped turning
    only the waves
    were moving

    all doubts and questions
    ceased

    the motion swept
    them away

    home was
    on the horizon

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    Replies
    1. Risa, your poems are like magic that conjure up images that give rise to ideas for new poems. On those rare occasions when thought no longer reigns as king or queen you stand in welcome of the world your home as it is.

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    2. This poem has a wonderful spiritual sensibility!

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  16. I'm away visiting family but reading the poems each day. Thank you so much for this annual treat, Adele!

    (I don't see any poems from our friend Basil this year. I hope all is well with him and that he's still writing.)

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Jamie! Thanks so much for your comment.

      Enjoy your time away with family!

      Basil reports that he's well but extremely busy this year.

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  17. Being Alone

    stop looking at me
    with lust
    before I poke your eyes out!
    yes
    I am alone
    no, I am not lonely
    I enjoy my own company
    and
    have no need
    of yours

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Risa, amazing how you have managed to say so much with so few words. Funny how when so much mental baggage given to us by our society gets thrown out we don't feel lonely but the exact opposite. "Before I poke your eyes out!" — I love the immediacy of that line.:)

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  18. Happiness

    jing jing jingle
    crink crink
    crinkle
    here they come!

    CATNIP

    kitty
    pum pum
    puss

    and the birds sing
    chirpy chirp

    and the bag sings
    crinkle
    crink

    what a way to start a day

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Risa, I really do like this piece. So clever how you put it together. Love the jingle to the words "kitty pum-pum puss." The poem goes beyond happiness and straight to that peaceful feeling where the attention is with whatever happens to be going on.

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  19. Such a wealth of poetry to read and for inspiration. I'm printing out some of the inspiration poems and using them in the classroom. Thanks, Adele.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rich! I hope your students enjoy the poems!

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  20. Love

    stuck on love
    what is it?

    it's absence is clear

    its presence
    all encompassing
    if
    chosen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicely written — a reflection that defines something not easily defined. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. Patterns

    Repetitions

    Is your life
    just
    a series of repetitions?

    Enough to put you to sleep?
    Comforting?
    Dreamlike?

    Wake up!
    Before you
    close your eyes
    forever

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good advice for all of us! Thanks for sharing, Risa!

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  22. Rain

    rain

    water

    washes

    everything clean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the one-word lines and the two-word closure. This poem made me think of those late spring and early summer rains that are so refreshing.

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  23. Boredom

    birds
    and
    bees
    and
    trees
    are never bored

    open you present
    don't worry about
    the future
    don't dwell in the past

    just be

    fill those empty spaces
    with joy and laughter

    boredom
    will have no place

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks again! You've done so much in writing a poem each day of National Poetry Month! Keep up the great work!

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  24. Catching up, Risa, on your last three poems...

    Congrats to you on writing a poem every day. Your style is wonderful, and thank you for all the sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Risa, I am in agreement with Adele's above statement. I love these snippets from your previous four poems — "stuck on love what is it?" "Before you close your eyes forever." "rain water washes." "birds and bees and trees." :)

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  25. I'm really enjoying the inspiration poems and the poems posted as comments. There have been a few poetry readings nearby, and I've attended a couple. What a great month ... poetry, lilacs, new leaves. Wonderful!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Sandy!

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  26. Indifference

    Oh heart
    never stop feeling
    keep beating
    for yourself and others

    becoming indifferent
    may lead to
    death

    death of the soul

    compassion is the
    fragrance of
    love

    oh heart
    expand in loving

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice, Risa! This poem has the quality of prayer. Well done!

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  27. Something Good

    impossible
    intolerable

    switch!

    turn it around
    from bad to good
    for
    it's all good!

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  28. Listening

    empty mind
    open heart
    listen intently
    completely
    totally
    passive
    receptively receiving
    what is
    being offered
    and
    shared

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Risa, I'm so impressed with the work you're doing this month! Brava to you!

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  29. Amita Jayaraman (Mumbai)April 19, 2016 at 7:13 AM

    I never fail to be amazed at the richness of this blog. I've been reading the poems each day, writing when I can, and lately enjoying the comments. Poetry makes life fuller!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Amita! I'm grateful for your kind words!

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  30. Change

    float weightlessly
    in the river of life
    dissolve into it
    rolling with the waves
    turning with the turns
    stopping in the stillness

    eternally changing
    eternally the same

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  31. Waking

    ooph cat paw on my face
    eyes
    still stuck together
    from the night's dreams

    moving creaking limbs
    feeling for the light switch
    while clinking about like a drunk

    slowly slowly
    rising to awareness
    to greet
    the first star

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a lot of pet owners know that feeling! Thanks for sharing!

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  32. Failures

    failures are like
    sins
    missing the mark

    yet

    each day
    brings
    another opportunity
    to try again

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    Replies
    1. Once again, you bring a message of hope into your poem. It's uplifting and encouraging! Thanks, Risa, for sharing!

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  33. Yes

    hormones collide
    like crashing continents
    no means yes
    and no is forbidden
    a mentality of higher than
    of servitude
    yes
    just say yes to
    whatever
    is life sustaining
    life enhancing

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  34. The Future

    a choice-less choice
    to live
    only in the present
    every moment
    becomes the future

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Risa! Thank you, once again, for sharing!

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  35. Cars

    my Mercedes
    is my bicycle

    with flat roads
    and bypasses
    who needs a car?

    zipping 'round town
    on my own steam
    I contribute to
    the downfall
    of petrol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the humor in this one, Risa! Thanks for sharing!

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  36. Directions

    now listen carefully
    said the scholar
    of unknown credentials
    as a man
    you must maintain
    your dominance
    beating your wife
    is part of the process
    listen carefully
    don't leave any bruises
    no need to advertise
    your impotence
    remember
    this is God's will
    this is your right
    and obligation
    as a natural man
    follow these directions
    and heaven is assured you

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  37. Newspapers

    smell of ink
    and printed paper
    haunting echos from
    antiquated drums
    rolling out the news
    the news
    is still the news
    easily accessible
    in cyber space
    feel the keyboard keys
    delight in the contact
    then
    line the cat's liter box
    with newspaper

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the humor in this one! Thanks once again, Risa!

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  38. Weather

    whether it rains
    or not
    the weather here
    is always warm
    in the Sunshine state
    and lizards
    freely enter my apartment

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember those little lizards from when I visited my aunt and uncle in Florida! I thought they were cute—and little frogs that I saw when walking at night.

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  39. Thanks, Adele and everyone who noted and participated in National Poetry Month. It was a wonderful challenge.

    ReplyDelete