NaPoWriMo 2016: we begin

Today is the first day of April 2016 and very spur of the moment (as in, an hour or two ago) I decided to do something very different for NaPoWriMo this year. Instead of sharing my poems here, I'll share prompts instead.

These prompts were written a few years ago for my online class, poeming into the now. They were mailed each day to the participants in that class. Since it was a class, there's a llittle more information than most of the prompts I've seen for NaPoWriMo. You'll either like that or you won't. I don't mind.

I am planning to edit them a little each day, before posting, to correct spelling or grammar mistakes and remove personal or outdated information, but mostly, I'm keeping them as is.

[And this is an experiment - I'm hoping the links still work and the formatting doesn't get too messed up! I'll fix it if it does. Thank you for bearing with me.]

(All mistakes are my own. I'm human.)

One poem a day, every day in April. That's how NaPoWriMo works. And so I will post one prompt a day. Even on weekends. Unless I am unable to, for one reason or another, and then I'll make it up when I can. I will do my best. I'm human.

(I'm taking my kid camping in the middle of the month. Do national parks have WiFi? We'll find out!)

You don't have to follow my rules, or the rules of NaPoWriMo, you can make your own. Write a poem every three days. Write a haiku everyday, or a prose poem. Forget to write one day and write two poems the next. You are human, too. Be kind to yourself.

You can even wait till April 17th to start writing one poem every day, that's the beauty of the Internet! These posts will still be here.

These prompts were originally written for a group of poets who mostly had never attempted a poem a day project.

I have a BA in Creative Writing, with an emphasis in poetry. I have a strong background in formal academic poetry. I'm teaching what I love. That includes some history of poetry, and form, with a highlighting of my personal poetic inspirations (who have a tendency to not be Cis Het dead white guys with a few notable exceptions).

Even if you have no interest whatsoever in writing poetry of your own right now, I hope these prompts will still be interesting, because I've included an example poem (or links to several examples) with each prompt, as well as links to more in depth explanations about the day's style/theme/form.

And even though I'm getting a little pedantic, and I'm almost always long-winded, I'll keep my writing style conversational. That's who I am. That's how I write.

(sometimes I eschew capitalization, just because. that's who i am. that's how i write. sometimes.)

The tone of my prompts tend to be encouraging, because writing a poem a day is difficult, the first few times you do it. Hopefully, even if you're not having difficulty, you'll appreciate the encouragement. If you do find it difficult, know that you are not alone.

Keep writing!

Let's get to it, shall we?

..............................................

day one: we begin.


And in honor of beginning, I wrote a poem about beginning the day (it's posted on my blog).

Today's prompt is one of my touchstones, a standard fallback, the "this moment" prompt:

In the now, what is happening? What can you see, touch, taste, hear, feel? (You are writing, obviously, but before the writing, or during, what is around you?)

Or, conversely, what are you thinking about, right now? Are there memories right there, on the surface of your now, that merit delving into deeply? And how can you connect them to this moment, to what you can taste/feel/touch/see at this moment?

All poems really spring from this moment, this now that you are inhabiting. Even if they are visions of the future or memories of the past (or fantasies of other nows), they are still grounded in the now of where your body is as it is writing. We just don't always write *about* what is happening in that now.

But today, let's connect our poem to what is happening right now around us.

Here is an example from Maya Angelou (may her memory be a blessing):


This Winter Day

The kitchen is its readiness
white green and orange things
leak their blood selves in the soup.

Ritual sacrifice that snaps
an odor at my nose and starts
my tongue to march
slipping in the liquid of its drip.

The day, silver striped
in rain, is balked against
my window and the soup.


The poet brings us right into her moment, in her kitchen, as she prepares a pot of soup. A normal every day (winter) event, but her strong words and images highlight the juxtaposition of sacrifice and comfort inherent in the making of soup (even vegetables are sacrificed for our meals) . There's really no cleverness (no "turn") except for the surprising word choices (which are great). This is simply a moment.

Your moment might be beautiful, simple, chaotic, raw, painful, happy, sad or anywhere in between. Write it as it is, or as you wish it to be. Connect it to your breath or the blood that is flowing through you. Connect it to sounds, to taste, to touch (pick one sense or several or all)!

Now it is your turn to write.

And remember, as always, you can stay with this prompt or branch out. You can share your poem, or hold it close. All of this is up to you. You decide what to commit yourself to do.

Happy poeming!