"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.
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!
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!
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!
“If You Forget Me” by Pablo Neruda
April 2—THE COLOR RED
“The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams
“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
“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
“A Moment of Happiness” by Jalal al-Din Rumi
“April Love” by Ernest Christopher Dowson
“My Husband Discovers Poetry” by Diane Lockward
“Patterns” by Amy Lowell
“The Rain” by Robert Creeley
“Dream Song 14” by John Berryman
“The Promise” by Jane Hirschfield
“Twilight” by Henri Cole
April 17—SOMETHING GOOD
“One Good Thing” by Edwin Romond
“The Risk of Listening to Brahms” by Michael T. Young
“The Moment I Knew My Life Had Changed” by Maria Mazziotti Gillan
“Why I Wake Early’ by Mary Oliver (Audio)
“Failure” by Philip Schultz
April 22—SOMETHING LOST
“Atlantis—A Lost Sonnet” by Eavan Boland
“I Have a Theory about Reflection” by Renee Ashley
“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
“Which Way Is Up?” by Tony Gruenewald
“You Are My GPS” by Linda Radice
“The Star-Ledger” by BJ Ward
“A History of Weather” by Billy Collins
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!
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!ReplyDelete
Happy Poetry Month, Lewis! I hope you find enjoyment and inspiration on the blog this April! (Yes, time has a way of flying by!)Delete
Until death do us part?
I am with you
in this life
any further manifestations
How could I forget you?
or you Me?
I am you
I move with you
I stop when you stop
There is no death
As wind blows
I am with you now
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.
What a great way to start National Poetry Month, Risa! Thanks so much for sharing—hope we her more from you!Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
grows colder; like
- Ryan Stone
Hi, Ryan! Thanks so much for sharing your poem, which beautifully conveys a sense of loss and longing.Delete
The Color RedReplyDelete
All the sets were
blue brown and grey
of outside spring
A dull world really
Here and there, though
red this and red that
red lips in a grey world
Wonderful, as always, Risa! Thanks for sharing!Delete
"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.Delete
Just a flashReplyDelete
would be a blood bath
Wonderful use of red as something ominous, and in your direct, concise style. Thanks again for sharing!Delete
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.Delete
the slowing down
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.Delete
Well done, Risa!Delete
A Peaceful MindReplyDelete
big and small aggressions
personally and collectively
smile at that image
reflected in your mirror
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.Delete
Ditto, Lewis! A wonderful poem, Risa. Thanks for sharing with us!Delete
Thank you Lewis for reading my poems and offering your comments!ReplyDelete
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. :)Delete
What are you doing here?
calling my name
in the dead of night
penetrated my sleep
touching my heart
plucking the strings
of my soul
Memories and dreams ...Delete
Thanks for sharing, Risa!
That's an interesting prompt! I'll try it out. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for your comment, Fida! Enjoy!Delete
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.ReplyDelete
Heavenly musicians and dancers
entertain the divas
dawn and dusk
on this earthly realm
by the music of life
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. :)Delete
this poet song bird sings your praises too!Delete
For Adele and Risa. Inspired by the prompt and Risa's poem 'Music' —ReplyDelete
The song of remarkable poets
we hear at dusk and dawn.
Stop— listen to the pulse of life
the birds are translating.
~ ~ ~
I just found this Lewis! Thank you so much. I love the idea of the birds translating and your injunction to stop and listen.Delete
A Day to RememberReplyDelete
time stood still
the world stopped turning
only the waves
all doubts and questions
the motion swept
on the horizon
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.Delete
This poem has a wonderful spiritual sensibility!Delete
I'm away visiting family but reading the poems each day. Thank you so much for this annual treat, Adele!ReplyDelete
(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.)
Hi, Jamie! Thanks so much for your comment.Delete
Enjoy your time away with family!
Basil reports that he's well but extremely busy this year.
stop looking at me
before I poke your eyes out!
I am alone
no, I am not lonely
I enjoy my own company
have no need
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.:)Delete
jing jing jingle
here they come!
and the birds sing
and the bag sings
what a way to start a day
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.Delete
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.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Rich! I hope your students enjoy the poems!Delete
stuck on love
what is it?
it's absence is clear
Nicely written — a reflection that defines something not easily defined. Thanks for sharing!Delete
Is your life
a series of repetitions?
Enough to put you to sleep?
close your eyes
Good advice for all of us! Thanks for sharing, Risa!Delete
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.Delete
are never bored
open you present
don't worry about
don't dwell in the past
fill those empty spaces
with joy and laughter
will have no place
Thanks again! You've done so much in writing a poem each day of National Poetry Month! Keep up the great work!Delete
Catching up, Risa, on your last three poems...ReplyDelete
Congrats to you on writing a poem every day. Your style is wonderful, and thank you for all the sharing!
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." :)Delete
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!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for your comment, Sandy!Delete
never stop feeling
for yourself and others
may lead to
death of the soul
compassion is the
expand in loving
Nice, Risa! This poem has the quality of prayer. Well done!Delete
turn it around
from bad to good
it's all good!
A message of hope!Delete
Risa, I'm so impressed with the work you're doing this month! Brava to you!Delete
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!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for your comment, Amita! I'm grateful for your kind words!Delete
in the river of life
dissolve into it
rolling with the waves
turning with the turns
stopping in the stillness
eternally the same
Another lovely poem!Delete
ooph cat paw on my face
still stuck together
from the night's dreams
moving creaking limbs
feeling for the light switch
while clinking about like a drunk
rising to awareness
the first star
I think a lot of pet owners know that feeling! Thanks for sharing!Delete
failures are like
missing the mark
to try again
Once again, you bring a message of hope into your poem. It's uplifting and encouraging! Thanks, Risa, for sharing!Delete
like crashing continents
no means yes
and no is forbidden
a mentality of higher than
just say yes to
is life sustaining
a choice-less choice
only in the present
becomes the future
So true, Risa! Thank you, once again, for sharing!Delete
is my bicycle
with flat roads
who needs a car?
zipping 'round town
on my own steam
I contribute to
I love the humor in this one, Risa! Thanks for sharing!Delete
now listen carefully
said the scholar
of unknown credentials
as a man
you must maintain
beating your wife
is part of the process
don't leave any bruises
no need to advertise
this is God's will
this is your right
as a natural man
follow these directions
and heaven is assured you
Powerful! Thanks for sharing, Risa!Delete
smell of ink
and printed paper
haunting echos from
rolling out the news
is still the news
in cyber space
feel the keyboard keys
delight in the contact
line the cat's liter box
I love the humor in this one! Thanks once again, Risa!Delete
whether it rains
the weather here
is always warm
in the Sunshine state
freely enter my apartment
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.Delete
Thanks, Adele and everyone who noted and participated in National Poetry Month. It was a wonderful challenge.ReplyDelete