Tag Archives: National Poetry Month

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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Poetry Challenge for April

Poetry.

Photo by Flickr user Teresa Grau Ros

I can’t believe it’s already April! Life is kind of crazy in the best possible ways right now — lots of reading, fun programs to plan at the library — but I don’t want to completely give up my habit of writing every day. (I’m a creature of habit, and I have this fear that if I stop writing every day, I may stop writing entirely. It’s completely irrational, but there it is.) So, while friends are enjoying virtual — and maybe not-so-virtual — s’mores at Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m challenging myself to write a poem a day.

While I’m choosing poetry as a way to keep writing through a busy spell, I am in no way claiming that writing poetry is easy, or that it doesn’t take a lot of time to write a poem. It’s not, and it does. In fact, I’m 99% sure I’m completely terrible at writing poems; that’s part of the reason why I’m making it my challenge for April. In all likelihood I’ll still be a terrible poet at the end of the month, but I hope that spending more time thinking about the sound and rhythm of my words will help improve my prose. I’m not setting out to write masterpieces here, I just want to stretch some creative muscles that don’t get as much use.¬†And what better time to start than National Poetry Month?

Are you participating in any writing challenges? Any exercises you’d recommend to improve one’s poetry?