Sunday, 14 April 2013

NaPoWriMo - some thoughts and an update

So I've found a way to persuade technology to do the tedious work for me of cross-posting my NaPoWriMo poems to Twitter and Facebook. This is pleasing, and would be great if I could find a way to put them on LiveJournal (for which I still have a soft heart - as well as a curiously large body of stuff!) as well, but it also kind of takes away the personal touch...

I've been enjoying NaPoWriMo for various reasons - it's an excuse to write, to write every day, share the process with others (both those taking part in the challenge and those outside it), and gain enjoyment from the sheer fact of having Achieved A Poem each time. It's surprisingly bloody tiring, mind, and I nearly scuppered myself with Poem #7 - Excel Now- which was a series of seven loosely-chained pieces as a kind of elaborate tale bound together with themes suggested by cultural references to the number 7. I took two days over it, slept little in the finishing of it, put myself behind schedule and drained a lot of creative juice birthing the bugger.

I wouldn't mind, but I'm not even sure it's that good, really. And the title is such an obscure, multi-lingual pun I've resigned myself that no-one else will get it and that it doesn't matter - okay, nearly.

Anyway, this afternoon I found myself writing today's poem well before schedule (now I've finally caught up via #11 and #12 I'm trying to do each one on its appointed day before I go to sleep, even if that's strictly speaking the next calendar day), out of the blue and with no elaborate prompt, research, or meditation. This is a big part of what the whole exercise is about to my mind - just writing the bloody poem - so I'm chuffed, if somewhat at a loose end.

(Never mind - plenty of Poetry Admin to do - gave myself a day off yesterday, but now it's back to the Edinburgh Free Fringe Spoken Word Allocations Mill.)

I've set myself other guidelines (I hesitate to call them rules in case I'm forced to choose between breaking them and losing my sanity later in the month):

  1. Only three emergency haiku/ senryū - I find them easy to write these days, so writing a single one for my poem of the day is only allowed under exceptional circumstances and only three times in the month so choose wisely (Day 10's tanka doesn't count as that was a direct prompt and I'd never done tanka before and hush!). However, I can chain three or more together as a single poem and that's okay.
  2. Do at least one strict form I've not done before during the month. I'm a blank/ free verse poet most of the time, so this stacks up the challenge stakes. I'm not sure tanka counts as it really is just a more indulgent senryū with a twist in the tale, and I'd done terzanelle before. Maybe a sonnet? Suggestions please.
  3. Try not to do the same form twice in a row. Try not to do the same theme twice unless it's a big one (e.g. relationships) or it's an explicit decision to continue where a previous poem left off.
  4. I'm allowed one extreme emergency meta-poem - i.e. one poem about writing poetry, especially if it's a poem about how hard writing poetry for NaPoWriMo is. My skin crawls at the thought, which is not to judge poets who write their way out of a block by standing on the block itself, but not if I can possibly help it. Maybe at the end... :)
  5. The death of Margaret Thatcher is currently off-bounds. No-one else needs to know why.

Here, for your delectation, are the latest poems since I last posted on this blog:

#10 Indelible - a bit of satire-flavoured tanka for you.

#11 The One Left Behind - the third poem to be inspired by its number, and a reference to the penultimate verse in "Green Grow The Rushes O!" that had been going through my head since #7.

#12 Laborious - so, to continue the numerological theme, I couldn't give up on 12, of all numbers and, having tapped the Bible twice in succession, I chose a different mythology - the Twelve Labours of Heracles in a series of senryū. It felt both fairly pretentious and, latterly, like a series of tabloid sub-headings.

#13 Yours Always - every time I had a thought to write a poem that wasn't triskaidekaesque I rejected it, which resulted in another late, solitary night, but some other ideas for poems. If only I'd written them down. Anyway, this one kinda leapt out of my brain as the beginning of a story and soon settled into a five-line-stanza internal-rhyme thing that only people who'd spent as much time on the Wikipedia 13 page would recognise as having anything to do with that number...

#14 Chatter - Boom! No numbers, just an internal-rhyming stream-of-consciousness that came out of nowhere. The internal rhyme/assonance trope is one I use a lot in my performance pieces, and is good for taking poems to interesting places through a kind of word-association. I need tomorrow's one to rely on it a lot less, though, to jibe better with Guideline 3.

Time to post this and go think about something else. Hope y'all are having a lovely Sunday in the bright blowy Springtime, or whatever the weather with you, and that you're having fun with whatever challenges you've set yourselves lately! :D


  1. I think the whole point of this is churning the mud at the bottom. The pressure of working a new thing every day means the stick keeps stirring. Sometimes a good bubble ups and outs and sometimes a clump of rubbish rises. Later, months maybe years later... reworkings will chisel away and maybe a couple of good poems will come. But this even is all about process. and the gifts that process unexpectedly lays at our feet.

    1. Thanks, Jan - yes, momentum's definitely the thing, isn't it? All too easy for creative types to stop themselves before even starting... :)

  2. Fay, It gets tough at the mid-point of NaPo. I did it last year and by the end of the month was happy enough with half of the pieces to work them up, buyt that means half fell away or became a germ of something else. Do not despair. Good luck and just keep writing xxx