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
Example: “The Risk of Listening
to Brahms” by Michael T. Young
Inspiration: The Tree of Life
Example: “Tree of Life” by Gail
Inspiration: Through the Lens
Example: “The Lens of Fire” by
Inspiration: For the Love of …
Example: “For the Love of
Avocados” by Diane Lockward
Inspiration: Finding Our Way
Example: “You Are My GPS” by
Example: “I Hate to See October
Go” by Laine Sutton Johnson
Inspiration: Parental Memories
Example: “Breakfront” by Bob
Inspiration: Oz and Other
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)