NaPoWriMo 2016: day twenty-four


Day twenty-four!

The ambivalence prompt was hard, but worth while, wasn't it?

Today's poem might be a little bit more fun. Today we're going to write an instruction poem (also called a didactic poem).

Didactic poetry started in ancient Greece (ostensibly with Hesiod) but continues to this day. (This lovely article claims Sesame Street songs as a form of didactic poetry, but there are certainly other modern examples, despite this other article's misgivings.)

Didactic poetry can be humorous (see again, those Sesame Street songs, which are brilliant!) or somber.

Didactic poetry can also cross a(n unseen) line and become Ars Poetica (a poem about poetry/ poetry creating). And in point of fact, that has a long historic tradition as well, starting with Horace's Ars Poetica (English translation here). Most of my didactic poems are also Ars Poetica, because I tend to think meta-poetically. (Remember my poem from last week after I cut my hair?)

But the only real necessity for a didactic poem is to write out instructions. First this step than that (or more subtly, a series of instructions that flow into each other).

Two example poems today:

Tract by William Carlos WIlliams
House: Some Instructions by Grace Paley

So you see, you can pick any topic to instruct us on in your poem today. Gardening, housekeeping, funeral making, cutting hair. Or you could sweep into the political or philosophical realms. Subject matter is up to you.

Have fun and as always, happy poeming!