Poetry eZine ~ April 2012

Monday, April 30

April 30th Poems

As some may know, the Residency is ending today. I had an amazing time doing this - running this blog, hosting workshops, celebrating poetry in the community, and, as of last night, hosting a successful Poetry Slam.

At the slam, we had several amazing poets compete. The winner, Chris Britton, and the runner up, Cathleen Louise, were kind enough to allow me to post one of the poems which they had recited at the slam last night. Here are those poems.

Chris Britton:

Cathleen Louise:

April 30th Prompt

Today, we're going to talk about the last place that we have yet to talk about.

Write about what you do. Write a poem to your employer. Write a poem to your employees. Write a poem to the most menial tasks, or write a poem to the amazing things you've been able to accomplish in your position. Talk about your experiences. Was there one time that really struck you with its power? Is there anything of great significance which you do on a daily basis, perhaps without fully realizing it? Poetry can be found in our daily lives, usually in places we may least expect.  Happy writing!

Sunday, April 29

April 29th Prompt

Today, let's try to tackle one of the last places yet untackled in terms of these prompts.

Write a poem to or about your dreams. Clearly, dreams can have many meanings. To some, they mean our goals that are too far away to see clearly yet we know that each step brings us closer. To others, dreams are simply those things we experience late at night when everything else is supposed to be at rest. Write a poem which talks to or about your dreams. Is there one in particular which is very memorable? Is there one which reoccurs and which you can't seem to shake? Is there an idea which seems to call to you? Take some time to write about it today. If not now, then when? Happy Writing!

Saturday, April 28

April 28th Prompt and Question

Today's prompt will be somewhat meta.

Write to or about writing. What is your process in terms of how you write? Does an idea come out of nowhere and demand to be picked up like a crying child? Do you have to meditate profusely on a topic for hours or days or weeks to get the right words to come up? Do you just plain wish it was easier to write? Perhaps harder? This is your chance to complain, explain, create a refrain like a song to be sung to yourself (or others) in the future. What does writing mean to you?

In keeping with this writing idea:

How do you know a poem is "finished"?

Most people know the age-old phrase, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned"; however, something that most people don't necessarily talk about is "Well, is a poem ever finished?" By finished I mean here to say ready for sharing of some kind, whether that be in print or out loud at a local open mic event. How do you know when an audience is ready to take in your poem? Is it only after meticulous long hours of perfecting every single last piece of punctuation? Is it the moment after it's been written (revision comes after sharing)? Is it never? Why - for all / any of the above - is that so?

As always, happy writing!

Friday, April 27

April 27th Prompt

Today, I'm going to bring back a prompt I was taught forever ago.

Write about a pair of shoes in such a way that creates an idea of death without ever mentioning "death" or certain words or phrases closely associated with the concept like "grim reaper" etc. 

If wanted, you could also change this process so that the poem hints at just about any grand concept: life, love, time, war - and on.

Today's question focuses on place:

Do you have a specific spot or place you like to go in order to compose or revise your poetry?

Many of us have different places we like to be. In college, I would always visit a restaurant near campus that would give me some time to think, eat, and, as luck would have it, compose poetry. Do you have a specific place that you like to go that helps this process? Is there a process that goes into writing poetry? Place is an important aspect for poetry - do you have a specific place that's important to you?

Thursday, April 26

April 26th Prompt and Question

Today, we're going to think about the past but attempt to compose something new. Specifically, we're going to write about something everyone has, and something many of us have had problems with.

Write a poem to or about family. Your family, specifically. Of course, we don't always get along with the people who have been closest to us. What might you want to say to your parents? Your children? If you don't have kids, what might you want to say to them were they around? Are there any images that are closely associated with one person in your family? For inspiration, I would encourage people to read Michael Bennett's wonderful contribution to this blog - it can be found by clicking on his name in the contributor's list. Happy Writing!

A question that has been on my mind - one that I invite my readers to share in the comments section of this post - is:

Is there a poem that has particularly affected you?

I know that, for the longest time, I could not listen to a poem by Danny Sherrard called "The Distance" (which can be found on YouTube) without tearing up a bit. Strange though it may seem, I was particularly moved by this poem. Another poem I found powerful is "What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali. Last on this list but certainly not least is a 6 minute performed poem called "The Crickets have Arthritis" by a poet named Sean Koyczan. There are, of course, several others (too many to list here) that have affected me in some way or another. I would love for others to share their experiences with poetry within the comments of this post. Happy sharing!

Wednesday, April 25

April 25th Prompt and Question

In honor of the Community Poetry reading tonight (a celebration to say "thank you" to all the poets and writers in the are - and showcase the poetry of those who were published on this blog) and to continue the theme of revision, today's prompt focuses on the speaking or performance of a poem.

Find an old poem (or write a new one) and write above your lines all the places that you want to pause to breathe. A fun symbol that can be used to denote a breath break is a caesura ( || ) which denotes, in music and poetry, a complete pause and was used heavily in Old English poetry. After you have have places to pause, decide on the rhythm that the pieces of the rest of your poem should take. Are there certain lines you want to read quickly? Are there other lines which should be spoken slowly to allow the listener time to absorb the information you're presenting? Finally, decide on a tone in which you'd like to deliver your lines. Does your poem demand to be spoken with a smile? Does it want to find its life in tears? Each poem has a character to it - revising poems with this idea in mind will help you to find the poem's voice. Happy writing!

Today's question is also inspired by the question of performance and poetry. Simply put:

What is the place of poetry?

Should poetry be performed or written for performance? Should it be written so that, as one teacher stated, the reader can "swim through" the poem? Is it more ideally a mix of both? In short, this becomes a question of where poetry belongs. Does it belong to the public, or does it belong to the individual? Is it neither? Or both?

Regardless of this question's answer, be sure to check out the Community Poetry Reading which starts at 7:00 tonight at the Midwest Writing Center located on the 3rd floor at the Bucktown Center for the Arts at 225 E. 2nd Street Davenport, IA. It's a great chance to hear some awesome poetry inspired and written by the community! Hope to see you there