got kids?

June 9, 2021

architectural photo of the University of Arizona Poetry Center

Got kids at home? The University of Arizona Poetry Center has some suggestions for bringing together poetry and visual art for K-12 youngsters. While these are designed as lesson plans, they are easily translated to home use… as prompts for poets of all ages.

NaHaiWriMo

February 6, 2021

It’s already February 6, but if you haven’t started your haiku-a-day for National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo), it’s not too late to catch up!

First, go to NaHaiWriMo and have a look at the mind-bending number of options Michael Dylan Welch has provided there. If you’re overwhelmed, and not already a haiku pro, the Haiku Checklist offers a good introduction.

If you’re looking for prompts, Michael provides this month’s daily prompts on this Facebook page and you’re encouraged to share your haiku on the main NaHaiWriMo Facebook page (simply Create Post, type in your haiku, and click Post). (By the way, daily prompts are a year-round thing, with guest prompters each month. Many of the prompts from previous years have been archived on the Daily Prompts page and the remainder will be added, Michael assures us, eventually.)

Also note that there will be two global NaHaiWriMo poetry readings: Saturday, February 27, 2021, 6:00pm Pacific, and Sunday, February 28, 9:00am Pacific.

For more inspiration, listen in to Tom Maxedon’s NaHaiWriMo radio interview with Natalie Goldberg and Michael Dylan Welch talking about haiku.

Happy haiku-ing!

NaNoWriMo 2020

November 1, 2020

It’s November (somehow) and along with everything else, that means it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Launched in 1999, the project’s idea is to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. In 2019, 455,080 writers participated in NaNoWriMo programs, including 104,350 students and educators in the Young Writers Program.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, NaNoWriMo “believes in the transformational power of creativity.” If you sign up (it’s free), you get prompts and encouragement and become part of a community that stretches past the 30 days of November.

Many poets participate, using the daily-writing structure and prompts to draft enough poems to fill a book. Will this be your year for NaNo poems?

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graphic by Tyrell Waiters

Pandemic Assignment

May 16, 2020

This is a guest post
by T. Clear

Tasked with the poetry prompt tomato, I sat down to a white page, and waited for something to happen. I’ve never been one to write to a prompt. All attempts have resulted in a ho-humness that’s not worth the energy it takes to type. Stabs at keeping a journal and establishing a daily writing practice have never amounted to much. A poem chooses me, instead of the other way around. I won’t say I’m happy with this arrangement, but I’ve come to accept it. Yet there I was, with an assignment, and because I had the time, decided to give it a chance.

Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family — Solanaceae — which includes potatoes, peppers and eggplants, as well as several poisonous species. As children, my five sisters and I feared deadly nightshade, whose dark purple blossoms with yellow starburst centers grew vigorously on the fenced edges of our property. We knew not to eat any of the crimson berries, and our idiomatic folklore taught that we would die within 15 minutes upon ingestion of any part of the plant. We wore gloves to yank it out; it exuded a bitter scent, as if even inhalation had the power to strike us down.

Nightshade seemed a good place to start work on a poem. A quick search informed me that the nightshade we so deathly feared was actually bittersweet nightshade (also known as felonweed, snakeberry, violet bloom); and death, though a possible outcome, is generally not a consequence, unless one were to consume ripe berries in great quantities, and with no ensuing intervention. Just like that, a large swath of my childhood beliefs was proven wrong. I wondered: what else did we believe would do us in, or not? And how were we so lucky to survive childhood’s real dangers? — Maple trees from which to plummet, the wrath of stinging nettles, blackberry vines whose unforgiving thorns snagged our arms in bloody zigzags. Skinned knees and elbows, a little finger sewn back on after surviving a door-slam, ice on a headbump: we persisted. Disease was not part of our vocabulary, except for the vaccination scars on our upper arms, which we compared and rated for their size and visibility.

Wait — wasn’t I trying to write a tomato poem? Yes, well….

Okay. Nightshade fit into the first line. That qualified it as a tomato poem, in a species-roundabout way. But from there, I veered to fairy-ring mushrooms, to a remedy for nettle stings, to the wild sorrel that grew abundantly in open fields, and on to the hazelnuts we cracked with our molars (which initiated long years of fracture). Death came only with the dogs killed on our busy street because they roamed freely then, as did we.

Until the summer we adopted a stray black cat and named him George. He moved in as if returning from a long journey, glad to get back to his own bed. We couldn’t have been more delighted with this affectionate, good-natured pet. And all that cuddling-up-in-bed with George resulted in a summer-long lockdown, of sorts, confined to our half-acre yard while we recovered from a nasty case of ringworm, compliments of…George. Though less than three months, it was an eternity to a six-year-old. Our dad drove away with the infected pet and we stayed on our side of the fence, nightshade and all. No explanation as to the cat’s destination, but none of us wanted to know. The protective innocence of childhood is a kind of virtue. The truth of the cat’s fate was too much for us to hear.

And suddenly there it was, on the screen: my poem, 33 roughly drafted lines. My tomato poem, veered from its triggering subject to my own childhood folklore. So lost in the stream of consciousness generated by the realization that my nightshade wasn’t deadly nightshade, I’d surrendered to the afternoon, and the poem essentially wrote itself. From a prompt.

Perhaps I succeeded because I’m home all the time now, compliments of the truly deadly danger from which we hover behind walls. Or maybe my belief that I can’t write from a prompt is faulty, like the belief in immediate death by nightshade. Maybe, it took this time to be able to stretch out, more time than I’ve had since childhood, minus that nagging sense that I was missing some essential task. And yet, when I sat there poemless with tomato looming before me, that become my essential task: a tomato, a poem, a black cat named George, and quarantine.

. . . . .


 
 
A co-founder of Floating Bridge Press, T. Clear’s poetry has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Iron Horse Literary Review, Lily Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, Raven Chronicles, and The Rise Up Review. She is on the editorial board of Bracken Magazine, and facilitates the Easy Speak Seattle critique group Re/Write. Her website is tclearpoet.com.

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[Ed. note: T. Clear’s tomato poem is being submitted for publication. Please stay tuned.]

delivered fresh

March 20, 2020

How about a fresh, juicy prompt delivered to your email every morning of April, National Poetry Month? Two Sylvias Press has an all-new round of daily prompts lined up and ready for you. If you’d like some feedback on one of your poems, that option is available too. Write a poem a day in April and by May first, you have a chapbook!

prompts galore

February 15, 2020

If you’re interested in the natural world and you’re looking for a new perspective, look no further than the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Currently weighing in at 57,897,176 pages, the library “is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives.”

You can browse the BHL’s collection by Title, Author, Date, Collection, or Contributor. For example, click on Collections, then on Extinct Species, and you get a further listing of 29 volumes from 28 titles, containing 11201 pages. Click on any of the linked titles and you’ll find yourself at a scanned version of the original document, which you can browse page by page.

Have fun!

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Thanks to Colossal for the heads up

it’s back!

November 30, 2017

Don’t let your poetry practice get swept away by the distractions of the season. Join Two Sylvias Press for daily prompts to help you write 31 new poems in December. Visit the Two Sylvias Press 2017 Online Advent Calendar of Poetry Prompts page for all the details.

Finding inspiration

June 25, 2016

Oregon Territory map 1833

When it comes to maps, Inspiration is more than a ghost town in Arizona. Maps offer mystery, language, design, history and direction. As described in Leo Kent’s article, The poetry of maps,” cartography has long been a resource for poets.

For the cartophile, various authors analyze the connection between poetry and maps for the publication Cartographic Perspectives (search for poetry).

For more, read the poem “Old Territory. New Maps.” by Deborah A. Miranda or browse The Cartographer’s Tongue by Susan Rich.

If you’re looking for inspiring maps, the Washington State Archives and State Library offer their extensive holdings free online. Visit Legacy Washington to see a list of historical maps of various types from various time periods. (Note that a plug-in is required and may be installed from the site to view the maps in high resolution and to zoom, pan, adjust color, etc.)

Where will your poetry take you next?
. . . . .
Oregon Territory map

cover, Ulysses by James JoyceToday, June 16, is Bloomsday. It’s the day on which the events unfolded in Ulysses, by James Joyce. Celebrated in Dublin since 1954, Bloomsday is marked each year by Joyce fans with readings, walks and other celebrations of Leopold and Molly Bloom. (Read more about the origins of Bloomsday.)

If you’re inclined to celebrate and you’re not in Dublin for the Bloomsday Festival, you could choose a random line from Ulysses as a poetry prompt. The full text is available free from Project Gutenberg. You could follow in Bloom’s footsteps with the help of JoyceWays, an app that takes you to more than 100 locations from the book, with excerpts along the way (more JoyceWays on Facebook). You could also check out the Naxos iPad app, James Joyce’s Ulysses: a Guide.

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image

Signups are open!

March 2, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016

National Poetry Month, April, is also National Poetry Writing MonthNaPoWriMo. As you probably know by now, the idea of NaPoWriMo is to write a poem every day of the month. That’s a whole chapbook’s worth of poems. Impressive.

If you choose to participate in NaPoWriMo, you can do so in the privacy of your own garret, or make an agreement with a poetry pal, or sign up and post your poems on your own site linked to the NaPoWriMo site. It’s all free and there are daily prompts, should you be in need of one. Signups consist of submitting the name and URL of your site. Then, come April 1, all you have to do is write poems and post them. Easy.

NaPoWriMo and its website is owned and operated by Maureen Thorson, a poet living in Washington, DC. Visit the NaPoWriMo site. Visit Maureen Thorson’s site.

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