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Writing a Poem Every Day

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Runners have marathons, trekkers have Kilimanjaro or the Himalayas, and poets? Poets have NaPoWriMo, otherwise known as National Poetry Writing Month and I have been taking part for the second year running. The challenge is to write a different poem every day throughout the month of April, finishing up with 30 poems in 30 days. It was started by American poet Maureen Thorson nine years ago and now there are hundreds of poets taking part. They are mainly from the US, so if there are any other British poets doing it I'd love to hear from you.

Last year my friends asked me if I was doing it for charity, so this year I decided to get people to sponsor me. I chose four charities seemingly with little in common, but all of them in some way work towards breaking down barriers people have when it comes to education or reading. The Royal National Institute of Blind People, the National Literacy Trust, WomanKind and The National Autistic Society.

Some of these are personal choices too. Two of my nephews are diagnosed autistic and face their own challenges daily. As does everyone whom these charities help. To me reading and learning are two of the most important things in life and not to have full access to them can take away from the quality of life. Whether it be through lack of human or gender rights, lack of sight or any other reason.

To write a poem every day you have to get your ideas where you can. The news is often a good source. This one was on the day Aung San Syu Kyi won her by-election in Burma. It's a Triolet, a form with certain lines repeated.

The people of Burma are happy today,

what we take for granted they fought for.
Although true democracy's still far away,
the people of Burma are happy today.
The army should harken what they have to say,
raw power for decades they sought more.
The people of Burma are happy today,
what we take for granted they fought for.

From The World Today in Triolet

I also wrote this sonnet because I was impressed with how Ashley Judd spoke out about media preoccupation with how women ought to look.

NaPoWriMo does take over your life for a while. It takes me three to four hours to write a poem and on top of a full time job this doesn't leave much spare time. I even found myself sitting at separate tables to my friends in pubs to write. But as a way of growing creatively its very effective, and you feel yourself developing your techniques within a very short time-frame. I've also been picking up tips from The Academy of American Poets.

I try to make them as different as possible, but the ones I enjoy writing the most are the narrative poems that tell a story. Some are Science Fiction:

And so in time the cats and dogs
learnt from their human masters,
the power of speech, the use of tools,
and philosophic answers.

From The Human God's Lament

While this one has a horror theme with a repeating style known as a Pantoum:

Deep inside a dreadful forest,
where the angels hid their breathing.
There once stood a house immodest.
They who made it left it screaming.

Where the angels hide their breathing,
there's a creature made in error.
Those who made it left it screaming
and their lives are full of terror.

There's a creature made in error,
who regrets that they existed,
and their life was full of terror,
for of spirit they consisted.

From The Phantom Pantoum

I completed NaPoWriMo on the 30th April and I'm now looking forward to sitting at the same table as my friends again.