Sunday, April 6, 2008


Last year I read about NaPoWriMo—National Poetry Writing Month. I don't know whose brainchild this is, but the idea is that each day in April, National Poetry Month, you are to write a new poem. Voluntary, of course, but once you take the pledge, you're making a commitment to yourself. I can only make a partial pledge. I know myself too well to think I can write 30 drafts in a month. But I am determined to increase my output. So far I'm doing okay with two drafts underway.

One reason why I can't make the full commitment is that once I get a draft going, I become kind of obsessive about it if it has some promise. I'm more inclined to dwell on it, revising and revising, than I am to move onto the next new draft. At a certain point in the revising, I find that it's a good idea for me to put the poem aside and not look at it for a while. Then when I go back to it, I find some goofs I'd missed or a new image suggests itself, a better word, a stronger music.

The other reason I can't fully commit is that starting tomorrow and for the rest of the week I will be doing a third grade residency. Four one-hour classes for each of five days, plus a professional development workshop after school. Fun but exhausting. I expect to return home each day close to comatose. Then I also have two days of workshops in a girls' high school and two evening readings.

I know, I know—excuses, excuses. But honestly, I'm going to aim for ten new drafts this month. That's still pretty good if I can do it. If you care to join in on this project and if you find the occasional prompt helpful and stimulating, I can suggest a few good online sources.

1. Readwritepoem

Offers numerous prompts for this month, but also on a weekly basis throughout the year. Check the March 27th entry for a list of invented forms. One of my new ones is a Pleiades. (Warning: If you look at the example by the guy who invented this form, you'll see that he's violated the seven syllables per line rule. Or did someone change the inventor's rules?)

2. Poets Online
Run by Ken Ronkowitz who offers a new prompt each month. All poems and prompts are archived. Ken's been doing this for years now, so there are lots of prompts available.

3. Poetic Asides
Robert Lee Brewer's blog. Robert is writing one new poem per day, plus taking on the addtional challenge of offering a prompt per day.


  1. "If you look at the example by the guy who invented this form, you'll see that he's violated the seven syllables per line rule."

    I wondered about that, Diane! To my mind, the 7 syllable rule makes it much more interesting.

  2. I agree. The 7 syllable rule makes logical sense given the name of the form. And it allows you to do a bit more in the poem. I've reworked mine and am liking it better.

  3. I'm writing a series of 7 of them--I have to admit, that while it's coming somewhat easier, depending on the subject, it's starting to get tedious! LOL I'm glad yours is starting to come together for you.

    My working style is very much like yours--it's nice to hear. Other poets say in surprise, "You can't write a poem a day?? Just whip out a draft & move on." Impossible.

    You're reading in Brockton! That's my hometown! How wonderful! I'll put it on my calendar, go visit my mum, the built-in babysitter...

  4. I hope you can make the Brockton reading! It will be great to meet you. Am working on a nonet--also a fun challenge.

  5. Diane, I like your blog. I'll add it to my blogroll.

    I too find it difficult to write a draft a day and move on, particularly since I'm still revising poems I wrote in 2005. I tend to get obsessive about poems with promise as well.

  6. Hi Allen--Thanks for visiting. I'm adding you to my blogroll. And after three days of intensive labor, I think I figured out the Share to Facebook link. Should be on my next post if all goes as I hope.


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