Category Archives: Poetry
Today is the last day of National Poetry Month (in the US, at least, though enough others seem to have taken part to rename it International Poetry Month). One challenge for the month, raised on several sites (the one I followed at NotWithoutPoetry and another at NaPoWriMo, among others) was to write a poem a day for the whole month. I took up this challenge. I did miss a couple of days but made them up so that, by today, I have at least 30 poems written. Click the Poems menu item above to work back through them.
I can say with all honesty that it has been the most productive artistic month of my life. It has made me eager to get out of bed and check what prompts have been issued on each site and see what I might make of them. I’m proud of some of the poems and will likely blush when I reread others. But, I am certainly pleased that I undertook and met the challenge.
My challenge for the rest of the year is to try and keep up the momentum, not to writing a poem a day, but to be able to follow through on the poems I do write and make them as good as they can be. For this, I’ll need to work even harder and in a different way but I am looking forward to that challenge. I’ll likely not post much more poetry since, as my friend Kona has discovered, posting poems excludes them from magazine publication and competition entry. But I may be back next year. By then I may need the challenge to refresh or restart my poetic voice.
For the last poem of the month, I’ve ignored all prompts and written a short, quick paean to National Poetry Month.
April is the lyric month.
For thirty days and thirty nights,
the words came, mine amongst them.
Long and short, rhyming and not,
of recognised form and all their own.
Amongst the tumult, I caught my
voice, now and then. If it will speak
in silence, I’ll soon discover.
But, to be a part of that
mellifluous chorus gladdened me.
The prompt for today was simply to ‘write that poem that’s been lying in wait. Or use one of the prompts that you had to skip previously. Or just start something deliciously, gloriously new!’ So, I did.
I took my lead from a passage in the book I was reading last night, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld.
A feller stood on his patch
and shouted “Mine” so the sound
would carry to the boundary
and beyond. To any bugger
who might question the right of it.
I walked my Dad’s fence, it took
all day. The scrub on both sides
was the same, burned by the same sun.
We’ve lost the idea of land,
the feeling of what it is to
have land, to be that feller.
Beyond possession and ownership
is the rootedness of land,
the sense it gives of being
supported, held close and nourished.
They retired to a city flat, held
leasehold, and flourished. Gained, they joked,
a new lease on life. A long term one,
it turned out.
Too close a hold can
suffocate, escape can mean
breathing free again. Fences work
both ways. I never took root, took
off instead. Still, I miss the
completedness of that fenceline.
This is pretty much the antithesis of the prompt for today, a bit of a rant against the imposition of form. I’m sure there are poets who can use the constraints of form creatively and I have read plenty of contemporary poems where the form works without being obvious. For me though, trying to write to a form means I think too much about that and not enough about getting words that work, and the words are all that matter to me.
What the heck: put it down to my inability to think of rhymes!
Rearranging a verse to fit some form seems
like writing the news to suit the sentiment
of your class of reader. Leave restraints to
the sadomasochists in our midst. Write
what is right. Whatever a word’s colour
or origins, if it can play the role,
employ it. End rhymed lines can produce
a fine effect but repetition dulls.
Use rhyme as a tool to hone your sense
not as a weapon of blunt trauma.
And if you find that thirteen lines contain
your thought, then leave it there, don’t add one more.
Let your poem speak with its own voice.
This second poem uses the other photograph in the prompt:
I tried to relate a number of concepts here but after a couple of hours of struggle and my pencil reducing considerably in length, I have to admit failure. There is the germ of an idea but it’ll need more time than I had today to get it in shape. Still, this will serve as a reminder.
There, a shelf of jars before a window.
Good glass aspires to erasure, it
signifies nothing. This glass, however,
asserts its existence. The jars enclose,
the window warps the world beyond.
Just-in-case jars, dusty and forgotten.
Screw-topped, flip-topped, cork and glass-stoppered,
wide and narrow mouthed, long and squat, all
contents long gone. Like words holding their shape
when the meaning has fled.
That thin pane conjures a filmic dreamscape,
a Gaudian geography of stretch
and snap progression.
Don’t look for meaning here. Only disuse