What I learned from 30 days of poems

Poetry.

Photo by Flickr user Teresa Grau Ros

In April, I challenged myself to write a poem a day in honor of National Poetry Month. This turned out to be a great time for such a challenge; poetry has always served as an emotional outlet for me on the rare occasions I sit down to pen a poem, and it was nice to have that outlet when things got really crazy at work last month. I think I learned more about myself than I did about writing from this endeavor, but maybe you’ll find something useful in my takeaways, too.

First, I learned that I’m obsessed with word sounds and rhythm. I’ve always known this; while I don’t often read poetry, I’ll fall in love with poetic prose, and can be deeply moved by a poignant turn of phrase. Throughout April I forced myself to focus on rhymes and rhythm, and I found that focus creeping into my work as I edited prose.

I also learned that I don’t like being confined to a rigid structure. Every poem I wrote was free verse, and while there were some rhymes, and I was aware of the meter, I never forced myself to follow a strict structure. There were no limericks, no sonnets, no haikus. I wrote what resonated with me, and what I thought sounded okay. (I say okay because while there were a few stanzas I really liked, the majority of my poems still feel like drivel. I think I’ve mentioned that I don’t consider myself a poet by any stretch.)

But most importantly, I learned the same lesson writing flash fiction has taught me: experimenting with a new format forces you to flex different writing muscles. I don’t see myself every writing poetry professionally, but I do feel like my poetry improved over the course of thirty days. And writing poems has made me even more aware of the sound and rhythm of my prose.

Have you ever done a writing challenge like this? How did it go?

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