Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
– Robert Frost
It’s April again—where I live, the daffodils are in bloom, hyacinths have broken ground, and there are leaf buds on the lilacs. In addition to our natural world “rites of spring,” National Poetry Month begins today—a month-long celebration of poets and poetry.
Established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month begins on April 1st and runs through April 30th. This month-long "event" 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 US 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 several years, I offer you inspiration words/phrases and related poems for each of April’s thirty days.
This year, I’ve selected poems by poets whom I call friends—poets I know personally, have read with, spent time with, and respect. Links to the poems appear beneath each day in April after the inspiration words and the titles and poets’ names. You may wish to read, write, or do both. If you choose to write, be sure to extend the inspiration and travel away from the example poems. You’re not bound to any content or subject matter in the example poems—only the inspiration itself and however loosely you wish to interpret it.
1. Don’t feel compelled to match your content or style 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 inspiration phrases 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. Whatever you do this month, find some time (a little or a lot) to enjoy some poetry!
As always, your sharing is welcome,
so please don't be shy about posting your thoughts and poems as comments!
Regular prompts will resume on April 29th.
In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful and poetry-filled April!
Happy National Poetry Month!
Example: “The Risk of Listening to Brahms” by Michael T. Young
Inspiration: The Tree of Life
Example: “Tree of Life” by Gail Fishman Gerwin
Inspiration: Through the Lens
Example: “The Lens of Fire” by Penny Harter
Inspiration: For the Love of …
Example: “For the Love of Avocados” by Diane Lockward
Inspiration: Finding Our Way
Example: “You Are My GPS” by Linda Radice
Example: “I Hate to See October Go” by Laine Sutton Johnson
Inspiration: Parental Memories
Example: “Breakfront” by Bob Rosenbloom
Inspiration: Oz and Other Mythical Places
Example: “The Yellow Brick Road” By Donna Baier Stein
Example: “Let There Be a Wilderness” by R. G. Rader
Inspiration: A Place Remembered
Example: “Morning at the Elizabeth Arch” by Joe Weil
Inspiration: Loss & Grief
Example: “Grief” by Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Example: “Vacancy” by Tony Gruenewald
Example: “I Have a Theory about Reflection” by Renée Ashley
Inspiration: Yes or No
Example: “Yes” by Catherine Doty
Example: “Dream teaching” by Edwin Romond
Example: “The Star-Ledger” by B.J. Ward
Example: “The Age” by Emily Vogel
Inspiration: Husbands & Wives
Example: “Once My Husband” by Priscilla Orr
Inspiration: What I Wanted
Example: “Thanksgiving” by Martin Jude Farawell
Example: “Silence” by David Crews
Example: “Built Fire” by Charlie Bondhus
Example: “Trains: The Memorial” by Deborah LaVeglia
Example: “How I Took That Picture” by Basil Rouskas
Example: “Evolution” by Jessica de Koninck
Inspiration: Being Alive
Example: “The Grand Fugue” by Peter E. Murphy
Example: “Colored People” by Charles H. Johnson
Example: “Revelation” by Charlotte Mandel
Inspiration: Streets as Metaphors
Example: “River Road, East Paterson” by Nancy Lubarsky
Inspiration: Rain (April Showers)
Example: “Things We Do and Don’t Say of the Rain” by Robert Carnevale (scroll down to poem)
Example: “Still” by John McDermott (scroll down to poem)