April was National Poetry Writing Month, which I started doing back in 2013 back when I was sitting in the Faculty Admin office of IAIA in Santa Fe. During the first three years I did my own projects. Then I tried in 2016 to do the official prompts; but I gave up after two weeks when I got sick in Los Angeles. This year I committed to try the prompts again. It’s a mental and physical gauntlet, this challenge!
Overall, there was much less camaraderie over at Hello Poetry this year. Some possible reasons for this:
- I lost touch with my Hello Poetry friends. I blame myself for this. I never log in unless it’s the month of April. And this year I didn’t have time to read other poems and make comments. I had barely enough time to write and post my own poems. But I do hope to go back and read through some poems in May. There’s also a political element hanging over poems this year. My old pals might be Trump supporters and I was writing poems with undertones they found offensive. I really don’t know them very well.
- Also, I did the prompts from the official site (https://napowrimo.net/) and found out later that Hello Poetry was providing their own prompts. So not everybody was on the same page with prompts. This was kind of a bummer because part of the prompt-following fun is seeing what everyone else is doing with the challenges.
- Also, the Hello Poetry site went through a major overhaul right smack in the middle of National Poetry Month! What timing. So there were glitches with making posts and making edits and times when the site was fully down. I noticed that none of my poems trended after the switch-over. Either I was writing more and more pitiful poems, (not an impossibility), or the algorithm of popularity changed.
In any case, it was kinda lonely over there. Next year I’m going to continue with my own themes and then I’ll come back in a few years to do the prompts again.
Here are this year’s poems.
- 22 Skinny Lions – Write a Kay Ryan poem (which included an animal) and I wrote a political poem based on the idea of 22 skinny liars.
- Melts-in-Your-Mouth Marrow Pot – another political poem based on the challenge of writing a recipe.
- Horses – the challenge was to write an elegy based on a phrase you remember a loved one using. I wrote about my Grandfather and our inability to communicate with each other due to his Parkinson’s.
- The Turning of the Ducks – the challenge was to write an enigma poem about someone or something famous. Only one person has figured it out.
- The Juniper Besides – to write a Mary Oliver nature poem.
- 13 Ways of Looking at John B. McLemore (Literally) – Write a “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” poem. I was right in the middle of the sublime Shittown podcast.
- The Thing About Luck – Write a luck poem.
- The Tempest – Another political poem based on Alice Oswald’s “Evening Poem” when the challenge was to write an incantation.
- Magic 9 Form – a 9 line form influenced by the phrase abracadabra. Plus, I love to sing “Bibbidi-bobbidy-boo” a lot from Disney’s Cinderella.
- The Fairy Godmother’s Son – love poem, challenge was to write a portrait poem. Also influenced by Cinderella.
- No Money, No Metaphors – Based on a speech given by the President of CNM and issues occurring with New Mexico’s governor Martinez. The form is a Bop refrain.
- Book Bound – Based on an experience with my Difficult Book group, the challenge to write alliteration and assonance.
- Ode to Ovaries (Actually a Ghazal) – a day at the gynecologist produced this ode/ghazal.
- A Clerihew – clerihew’s are fun short spoofs on celebrates. Harder than they look. Many failed attempts.
- In the Fields of America - Another political one (surprise) based on the idea of being in the middle of something.
- Dear Adult Face – Write a correspondence poem. I have no idea how this idea got up in my face like it did.
- Midnight in Winslow – Write a nocturne. Poems 15, 16 and 17 were written at or about La Posada, the amazing Harvey House, in Winslow, Arizona.
- The Bathabout – write a poem of neologisms or made-up-words.
- A Creation Story – Write a creation myth. Irreverence was not part of the challenge. Supplied for free.
- Curveballs Tangled in a Fence – Write a poem using the jargon of the game.
- Overhearing a Business Meeting – Write a poem based on something overheard. True story that happened that very day.
- A Georgic on Growing Pickles – True family story: my Father's cousin wins the state fair every year with her mother’s pickle recipe. Slightly political take on the pickles. The extended family doesn’t agree on politics. Hard to write about.
- Stacks – A “double elevenie" form” that I wrote about my home office but realized later the lines also had an unintended layer of marijuana. Totally unintentional. You can watch me compose the poem on the screen capture and see how and why I chose each word. Ask Mark Twain and he’ll tell you the river is not a symbol for freedom (it is). Sub-context works in mysterious ways. (YouTube version)
- Snickering Marginalia – Write an ekphrasis poem based on marginalia of medieval manuscripts. There were an amazing amount of naughty ones.
- Poem Spaces – Explore a small defined space. I wrote about the spaces where I've written.
- Ten Relics of Very Tiny Religions – Write a poem about archaeologists in the future making sense of our culture. In my poem, archaeologists find my garage full of Cher memorabilia.
- Ode to Salsa – Write a poem exploring sense of taste.
- Modern Manners – Write a Skeltonic. Political.
- Serenade – Write a poem based on a word from one of your favorite poems. I picked the poem “Serenade” by Billy Collins which led to learning all about the history of Europeans discovering the Bougainvillia plant. Turned into a major girls-rock story.
- Ideologies – Write about something that happens again and again. Sadly political. (YouTube version)
In my Difficult Book group, we started reading the elit book The Imaginary 21st Century by Norman Klein and Margo Bistis. While researching it, we found this video called a Hypertextedit by its creator Tim Tsang.
Although we couldn’t really determine what that video was doing, I surmised it was following the thought process of Tsang as he worked online, how his online travelings might reveal his thought processes. I thought that was a pretty cool idea so I did two similar videos while I was composing the poems “Stacks” and “Ideologies.”
One of the great things about NaPoWriMo.net is that they post interviews every day. I didn’t have nearly enough time to read all of them but I did find a poet I’m looking forward to exploring: Tommy Pico. Some links to his stuff: