Starting tomorrow – NO FOOLING – I will be writing one poem a day for the month of April. It's National Poetry Month, after all, and a bunch of folks, both on- and off-line, are taking the plunge, too.
I don't write a lot of poetry, but I enjoy when I do. Lately, I have wanted to kick up that part of my writing life half a notch. [You know, 'cause I have so much free time.] I like the change it provides me from nonfiction, and lately poetry has been getting me out of a few nonfiction writing messes too. When I just can't seem to get to the essence of a piece, I flip open my poetry notebook. The act of dealing with the part of the essay that is giving me a problem – distilling it to spare and exacting words and images -- often breaks open my mental logjam, and I return to the prose with a different perspective.
Usually, it doesn't produce a terrific poem; most of the time, not even a passable poem. On the other hand, I've had a few published. But neither is really the point.
When I used to ride horses competitively – hunters and jumpers, English style – I had one trainer who encouraged his riders to spend one day each week out of the practice ring, doing something different: ride bareback, take a fast trail ride through the woods or a walk at your horse's own pace, play 4-H style horse-and-rider games with other riders, take your horse for a walk (dog style). The point was to do something, anything, that broke up our usual routine but still was about that horse and rider connection. Newly arrived riders at this highly competitive and nationally-known stable used to scoff at the suggestion, but within weeks, they came to realize what this wise trainer knew: to get better at what you do as a rider, do something different as a horseperson.
That's how I think about poetry, at least for now. A different, but equally nourishing part of the writing life.
the pause that
There, that's my first poem. Oh, that one's taken already? Shucks. Well, I have 30 more days to go.
Anyone want to join in? I'm participating with a group of fellow students/graduates from my MFA program on a private site; but there are open sites where you can play too, like this one and this. Or start your own poem-a-day initiative by yourself or with others.
Need a nudge? Try Poefusion – where they are posting prompt a day all month.
I don't know what theirs will be tomorrow, but as for me, I'm going with foolish.
Let me know what you think and how it works out.