Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prompt #143 – National Poetry Month 2013

National Poetry Month, established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 begins on April 1st!  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 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 few years, I offer you an inspiration word or phrase and a related poem for each of April’s thirty days. You may wish to read, write, or do both. 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.

And … if you write a poem that relates to an inspiration word, don’t feel obligated to write anything that resembles the example poem in content or style. Give the topic your own spin!

As always, your sharing is welcome, 
so please be sure to post your thoughts and poems as comments!

Regular weekly prompts will resume on May 4th.
In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful and poetry-filled April!
Happy National Poetry Month!

April 1
Fools/April Fools
“I’m a Fool to Love You” by Cornelius Eady

April 2
“Just Before April Came” by Carl Sandburg

April 3
“Yesterday” by W. S. Merwin

April 4
“My Turn to Confess” by Charles Simic

April 5
“Momentum” by Catherine Doty

April 6
“Dust” by Dorianne Laux

April 7
“The White Birds” by William Butler Yeats

April 8
“Rhapsody on a Windy Night” by T. S. Eliot

April 9
“Security” by William Stafford

April 10
“Song for the Rainy Season” by Elizabeth Bishop

April 11
“Remembrance” by Rainer Maria Rilke

April 12
“Walkers with the Dawn” by Langston Hughes

April 13
“Solitude” by Anna Akhmatova

April 14
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

April 15
“Water Music” by Robert Creeley

April 16
“Here and Now” by Stephen Dunn

April 17
Love Letters
My Father’s Love Letters” by Yusef Komunyakaa

April 18
Time and Space
“Theories of Time and Space” by Natasha Trethewey

April 19
“Why Regret” by Galway Kinnell

April 20
“The Portrait” by Stanley Kunitz

April 21
“Afternoon on a Hill” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

April 22
“seeker of truth” by e.e. cummings

April 23
“The Secret” by Denise Levertov

April 24
“The Journey” by Mary Oliver

April 25
“Prayer” by Jorie Graham

April 26
“A Blessing” by James Wright

April 27
“A Calling” by Maxine Kumin

April 28
“Gospel” by Phillip Levine

April 29
“Spring Comes on the World” by Emily Dickinson

April 30
“Happiness” by Raymond Carver

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Prompt #142 – Celebrate Spring

Spring presents itself in body, mind, and spirit, and, for most people, it’s a time of hope—a bridge between winter’s darkness and summer’s fullness. In my part of the world, spring began last Wednesday (March 20th) and, although the weather remains cold, the sense of spring “being  here”  provides a lift to the spirits. In my front garden, the daffodils and hyacinths are up and should bloom in time for Easter. 

This week, let’s celebrate spring.

Things to Think About:
  • How does spring make you feel? 
  • What are some characteristics of springtime?
  • What specific seasonal changes occur in spring?
  • What are some springtime impressions derived through your five senses? How does spring look, feel, smell, taste, and sound? (How do the trees look in spring? How does a spring breeze feel on your face? How does the earth smell after a spring rain? What does a spring raindrop taste like? How do the birds sound in spring?)
  • What do the words lilacs, jasmine, orange blossoms, and peonies bring to mind?
  • Why is a sense of newness important to you?
  • What important thing happened to you during spring?
  • Is there a special person whom you associate with spring?
  • How would you describe spring in a way that’s unique, not the typical description?
  • What does spring represent to you?
  • How is spring a time of anticipation and possibilities?

Happy spring, dear readers, may this new season bring you blessings and joy!

Next Saturday, March 30th, I’ll post the inspiration words and example poems 
for National Poetry Month and our annual poem-a-day throughout April, so stay tuned!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Prompt #141 – Color Your Poem

With St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, and everyone thinking green, I thought it might be interesting to think about various colors as the inspiration for this week’s prompt.

I didn’t realize, until I did some research for this post, that there’s a “psychology of colors.”  Without getting into color psychology too deeply, it’s generally understood that  colors can trigger psychological and emotional responses. Colors have prescribed “meanings.” Here are some that I found online:

Red—symbolizes excitement, energy, passion, love, desire, speed, strength, power, heat, aggression, danger, fire, blood, war, violence, all things intense and passionate.
Pink—symbolizes love and romance, caring, tenderness, acceptance and calm.
Beige and ivory—symbolize unification. Ivory symbolizes quiet and pleasantness. Beige symbolizes calm and simplicity.
Yellow—signifies joy, happiness, betrayal, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold, philosophy, dishonesty, cowardice, jealousy, covetousness, deceit, illness, hazard and friendship.
Blue— symbolizes peace, tranquility, cold, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, sky, water, technology, depression, appetite suppressant.
Turquoise—symbolizes calm. Teal symbolizes sophistication. Aquamarine symbolizes water. Lighter turquoise has a feminine appeal.
Purple—symbolizes royalty, nobility, spirituality, ceremony, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, arrogance, mourning.
Lavender—symbolizes femininity, grace and elegance.
Orange–symbolizes energy, balance, enthusiasm, warmth, vibrant, expansive, flamboyant, demanding of attention.
Green—symbolizes nature, environment, healthy, good luck, renewal, youth, spring, generosity, fertility, jealousy, inexperience, envy, misfortune, vigor.
Brown—symbolizes earth, stability, hearth, home, outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, simplicity, and comfort.
Gray—symbolizes security, reliability, intelligence, staid, modesty, dignity, maturity, solid, conservative, practical, old age, sadness, boring. Silver symbolizes calm.
White—symbolizes reverence, purity, birth, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, humility, precision, innocence, youth, winter, snow, good, sterility, marriage (Western cultures), death (Eastern cultures), cold, clinical.
Black— symbolizes power, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, fear, evil, unhappiness, depth, style, evil, sadness, remorse, anger, anonymity, underground, good technical color, mourning, death (Western cultures).

This week, choose a color and write a poem in which that color plays a role. In other words, don’t write about the color itself but, rather, use the color to help you develop a theme, mood, or narrative.

Things to Think About:

1. What mood does the color you chose suggest?
2. What emotions or feelings do you want your color to trigger?
3. What things in the natural world (or natural occurrences) do you associate with particular colors (i.e., a peaceful spring day, an autumn afternoon, winter, summer heat, a hurricane, a windy day or night)?
4. What colors do you associate with foods?
5. What colors do you connect to particular times in your life?
6. How do certain colors affect your moods?
7. Color harmony is a dynamic equilibrium—what color or colors do you associate with harmony in your life?
8. Does a particular hair color trigger a memory for you (your own hair color, coloring your hair, another person’s hair color—this one has potential for a humorous slant)?
9. Has the color of a room remained in your memory for any particular reason?
10.  What’s your favorite color to wear, paint your walls, choose for your car or the exterior of your home?


1. Be creative with this! Remember, don’t just write about a color! Include your chosen color in your poem in a unique way.

2. IMPORTANT: this week focus on adjectives and limited use of them. Adjectives can be your poem’s biggest enemy! Here’s what some great authors have written about adjectives:

  • “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.” (Mark Twain)

  • Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something.” (Ezra Pound)

  • “The adjective has not been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place.” (E. B. White)

  • “Most adjectives are also unnecessary. Like adverbs, they are sprinkled into sentences by writers who don’t stop to think that the concept is already in the noun.” (William Zissner)


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Prompt #140 – Morning, Noon, Evening, Night

Have you ever described yourself as a morning or nighttime person? A lark or a night owl? Some of us are raring to go first thing in the morning, while others “come alive” at night. There are also afternoon and evening people who prefer those times of the day for getting things done. With this prompt, I’d like you to think about various times of day and night and work one into a poem.

Things to Think About:
  • How are morning, afternoon, evening and night symbols of life’s stages? Can you use find a way to use this metaphor in a new way that isn’t trite or “already done?”
  • Think about whether you’re a morning, afternoon, evening, or night person? Can you compare yourself to a particular animal or bird that you might use as a metaphor for yourself in a poem?
  • Think of ways in which you can incorporate morning, afternoon, evening, or night into a poem.
  • Is there a particular time of day that you especially enjoy?
  • Has something (good or not-so-good) happened to you at a particular time of the day?
  • Remember the old adage, “timing is everything?” How can you relate that to a poem in which you incorporate a time of day, afternoon, evening, or night?
  • If someone does something “morning, noon, and night” that means the person does it most of the time. Is there a poem there for you? Maybe something with a humorous slant? 


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Prompt #139 – Edges

Our world is a world of borders and edges. In most spheres of our lives, we’re required to observe prescribed boundaries. We live among separations, always trying to find places where edges meet and connections happen. This week, let’s think about edges and what they suggest to us. Free write for a while, then go back and read what you’ve written. Does anything speak to you?

Ideas for Writing:
  1. Write a poem about edges in your life? Ragged edges? Smooth edges?
  2. Write a poem about a time when you found yourself at the edge of something (marriage, divorce, moving, a new job—any important decision). 
  3. Write a poem about a time when you were caught between edges?
  4. Write about an “edge” in which you met or left someone special.
  5. Write about a time when you (metaphorically) went over an edge?
  6. Write a poem about the edge or edges of something (an object, a place, a state of mind—the edge where land and sea meet, the moon’s edges, the edge of a star, the edge of romance, the edge of a forest, the edges of someone’s face, the edge of a dream).
  7. Write about something (or someone) that’s “lost its edge.”
  8. Write a poem based on this quote from E. L. Doctorow: “We're always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it's a little raw and nervy.” 
  • Don’t be afraid to let yourself go with this. It’s okay to be “edgy” (to astonish your readers, not with shock value but, rather, with an element of mystery, a unique voice, and/or understatement). 
  • Use imaginative language and distinctive figures of speech (similes, metaphors). Let your poem stand on “the edge of understanding” (leave room for the reader to interpret and imagine). 
  • After you’ve written your poem, refine its rough edges with careful editing (and remember that good editing usually means deleting rather than adding).