April: National Poetry Month

APRILA whole month dedicated to poetry!

We should be giddy, right? Is there an entire month dedicated to screenwriting or copy writing or journalism? Do carpenters get a month? Do the cable guys get a month? Do roofers or hockey players or principals or printers?

NO! Poets get an entire month.

I have a secret.

Every month is poetry month. Poets never stop. We think in verse. We connect the unusual, distort the familiar, silently applaud the explosions of weird  word fusions and pairings,  then shake ’em and bake ’em ’til they roll over and offer us their underbellies.

Then we wake and do it all over again. It’s not possible to turn off the faucet. We are wired this way. When the well runs dry, we seek out beauty in art, music, nature, other writers. Even a trickle of inspiration, gives us the shivers. We court rhymes and rhythms and metaphors. Sometimes we woo them ’til the cows come home. It’s delightfully fulfilling. Maybe even a little too analogous of one of the seven deadly sins-poetry gluttony.

Spouses and sweethearts beware.

While the crocus’ sneaks through the early Spring soil, our jaws are locked shut. We savor the silence as we ponder new poems and forms.  Don’t take it personally, but we do not want to talk to you. At least not about the trivial. Someone should create a bumper sticker: “Please be patient with your poet during the month of April.”

Our minds are on overdrive.

If your partner is having trouble accepting your indulgence, try some reverse psychology. Make them think it’s for them. I suggest implore each of you poets to read this line out loud to your LO:

“April is a great month for you to find a hobby.”

Suggest that they take up whittling or grilling or quilting or star-gazing. Buy them a really long book if they like reading. (It took me three months to read War and Peace. But, that’s when I had a newborn.)

As I write this, my husband is making squeaking noises into his palm to get my attention. Never fear. I did not turn my head. Not once. He aughta know better by now.

After all, this isn’t my first poetic rodeo.

But, this year I’m participating in two challenges. PoMoSco and PAD.

I’m busy.

All poets are busy this month. If your significant other doesn’t get it, give them some hand-made coupons as a gift. (Psychology tricks, remember?)

Here are a few suggestions:

Hand write a coupon giving them permission to learn something new. Maybe they just need some motivation or permission, depending on their personality.

Give them a coupon allowing them to take an entire week to watch every episode of The Americans.

Grant them one whole nag-free week to go on a fishing trip or a hunting trip or a shopping trip.

Give them the power to take two weeks to clean out the garage and basement without your intervention.

Tell them if they behave, you’ll take them to Dairy Queen. (It always worked when my kids were little.)

Get creative. Write them a poem. Make it rhyme. (really rhymy-rhymy.) And make it personal by adding their name to it and rhyming it. If you have good handwriting, make them a card. Seal it with a kiss. Or flower stickers or chewing gum.

If you play an instrument, sing your poem to them. They’ll tear up.

I promise.

Now my husband is banging his hand on the arm of the couch. (Not looking.)

Happy Poeming!

 

 

Do Poets Make Poetry Goals?

It’s that time of year—when we look back and wonder if we did anything positive with our poetry and then create goals for the new year.

Or maybe we just think about doing it because we’ve really never done it before.

woman-writer

I do wonder if it’s even important to be intentional about poetry because writing poetry isn’t scientific or calculating. Writing poetic goals isn’t like writing business goals or educational goals because most of us don’t earn degrees in poetry or earn a living writing it. We write it because poetry oozes from our veins. It’s how we think. It’s how we express ourselves. It’s how we connect.

But, still. I want to do a little bit of a retrospective rehash even though I went through a poetic slump this year. Some of it was because I’m focusing on my new editing business and the novel that just never seems to be finished. Some of it is because lately when I write something,  it seems plastic and forced.

So, I’m stepping back and looking at the big picture of 2014. I’ll lament the losses and celebrate the victories. Then I’m opening the curtain on 2015 and stepping forward.

I searched for some sort of assessment list for poetry but didn’t find anything, so I’ve pieced together a preliminary list.

Reflection questions—

  1. Did I write the poems I wanted to write?
  2. Did I submit to the literary journals I wanted to?
  3. Was I accepted?
  4. Did I learn about a new form?
  5. Did any of my poems win any awards?
  6. Was I intent on submitting to anthologies?
  7. Did I learn anything new about poetry this year?
  8. Did I grow as a poet?
  9. Did I write every day?

(Remorseful answers—)

  1. No. Lament
  2. No. Lament
  3. Yes. Happy dance
  4. Yes. Happy dance
  5. Um. Kind of.
  6. No. Lament
  7. Yes. Happy dance
  8. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
  9. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Renovation questions—

  1. Where did I go wrong?
  2. Where did I go right?
  3. Should I change course?
  4. Should I change voice?
  5. Should I submit more? Less?
  6. What is my blueprint for the next year?
  7. Should I participate in any submission marathons?
  8. Should I host one?
  9. What can I do to grow?
  10. Where can I go to learn?
  11. Who will I chose to be my mentor this year?
  12. Should I write a chapbook?
  13. Am I discouraged? Encouraged?
  14. Should I take a break?

Rejuvenation questions—

  1. What poetry can I read to inspire me?
  2. What else might motivate me?
  3. Who can I motivate?
  4. How can poetry change my life?
  5. How can my life change poetry?
  6. What can I do to be more intentional and mindful?
  7. Do I still enjoy poetry or is it a chore?
  8. How can I get ready to paint my world with poetry?

new-years-eve-574259_1280aWhat have I left off my list? What about you? Will you be assessing your poetic life when the New Year’s ball drops?

Happy New Year to you all!

Missing Lora

nearing heaven2

Oh, how I will miss my rough and ragged
my tough and gentle
loyal  friend.

What do you think?

roses are red

I think roses aren’t always red.
I think violets are sometimes indigo.
I like bacon.

And Poetry is hard. 

Especially during allergy season.

What do you think?

Thinking about Thinking (Weird Poets/Normal Earthlings)

This is going to be short.

Super short.

Because thinking time is short.

Because attentions are short.

Because we have too many other things to think about that keep us away from thinking about poetry. Normal earthlings don’t think about poetry. And if they do it is only when they are cleaning the bathroom to keep their minds off . . . okay, that’s enough of that.

Last Normal Earthling/Weird Poet (See Round I and II and III for review or just review the list)  I left off at the struggle for contemplation. Or lack of it because one our poets said that people don’t want to think anymore and that is one reason they don’t read poetry.

According to the FreeDictionary (which I love) “contemplation is thoughtful or long consideration or observation.”

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Thinking means: “to have or formulate in the mind.” (And then there’s a whole ton of other definitions you can read and ponder.)

As best as I can see it, contemplation piggybacks on thinking.

So, getting back to the idea that people don’t want to think anymore idea, this is an incalculable concept. I can’t have a month of thinking, or a teaspoon full of thoughts, or an ounce of reflection.

Poetically speaking, I can. In the measurable math world, I can’t.

But, we all think. We all contemplate. About something–our to-do lists, our Weight Watcher Points, the score of the Cub’s game (only because the Cubs have no enemies), the cute sandals on Zappo’s, how we are going to split the name TomKat, and why the heck do the Olympic beach volleyball players wear headbands to cover their lady parts? (rhetorical.)

We can choose our thoughts like I said last time.

But, if we don’t have TIME like people say, how can we think or contemplate about poetry?

. . . oh, wait, I get it.

No time. Therefore, no thinking.

No thinking; therefore no poetry.

Then what is everyone so busy doing?

We’re busy not thinking?

Maybe, we poets are weird after all. I think I’ll talk about that next time.

 

Secrets from a Poet

Last week my husband revealed to me why he doesn’t read or like poetry.

1. He doesn’t understand it.

2. It doesn’t make sense.

3. He’s too stupid to understand it. (he said it, not me.)

1. It’s boring.

A few commenters added their own thoughts:

1. Poetry takes time—they’re short, but require contemplation—and nobody has time. (thanks to emrw)

2. Their 10th grade English teacher destroyed all possibility of enjoying poetry.

3. Lots of poetry seems like “nose-in-the-air-difficult-philosophical-clap-trap.”

4. Nobody likes to be looked down on.

(Thank you  sonofwalt for these final three.

By the way, sonofwalt says of number six, “This is one of my reasons for attempting to bring people back to it (poetry) afresh, when they can be encouraged to find something pleasurable about the whole experience. I cannot recall who said this, but I like the idea, ‘A poet’s purpose is to help people enjoy their everyday lives.’”

I agree. If poetry does not help people, what good is it?

Getting back to the above observations, I would like to take them on one-by-one to try to demystify the whole poetry experience or realign the misconstrued ideas of poetry and poets.

But, first, I want to reveal a few secrets of my own and these might stun the normal earthlings.

As a poet, I can completely relate to every single one of these.

My first secret:

I hate poetry, too.

Well, some of it.

I hate goobery poetry. (insert your own definition.) I hate rainbow poems unless they’re for kids or all in fun. I hate bubble bath poetry. I hate reading a poem and feeling like I need to scrape the sentiment off with a spatula.

It took me the longest time to figure out why. I think it’s because some poems just don’t ring true. A love poem can be beautiful but it must sound sincere and authentic. Not contrived.

A lamenting poem can also be beautiful. But, it too must be sincere and not feel contrived or forced.

I hate feeling like I’m being preached to. Even though I profess to be a Christian, I don’t want to read poems that pounds a fist at me. I can go to church for some preaching. But, not all preachy poems are religious. Some are political or cultural. Show me some vulnerability, not piousness. I don’t like poems that bash people, unless it is metaphor for something evil.

I hate hate poetry.

I hate ambling poems. Most times simple is best. Yet, I have been guilty of the ambling poem.

My second secret:

I don’t sit around reading poetry all day. I do read a lot of poetry, but I don’t always enjoy it. When I connect with a poem, I feel a release. So, I wade through the ones that for me, this day, do not resonate with me, and I look for that gem pours into my soul.

I know I’ve found one when I hear an audible gasp and realize it’s me.

My third secret:

I don’t always get it either. Sometimes I’ll read a poem four or five times and just think to myself, I’m either really stupid or this doesn’t say anything.

And sometimes it’s both. But, sometimes, it’s because of where I am at in my life vs. where the poet is at in his/her life.

~ ~ ~

I hope by revealing my secrets, showing a bit of weakness, you can see that poets are real humans. Real earthlings. Maybe not normal, but that is worthy of debate, too.

So, tell me, writer/poet/ reader–what secrets do you harbor that you could share with the non-poet that might help to build a bridge with them?

I’ll list them and link back to you.