NaPoWriMo

by janeeatonhamilton

I’ve never participated in any writing intensives, but this month I have been writing a poem every day for National Poetry Month.  It’s been fun experimenting at the edge of form and from intriguing prompts.   I would never have written these poems otherwise.  I have written on the Tar Sands, on being given up for dead as a 2-year-old, about being in NYC for Hurricane Sandy, about a magician on the metro in Paris, a poem made up of ten lies, a poem to something inanimate, and so on.  Catch the New York School prompt, below, for a great example of what we’ve been challenged with.

The other terrific part has been participating as a group member with 17 extremely talented Canadian poets–their support has been invaluable, their talent and skill breath-taking.  To read their work day after day?  Priceless.  (For everything else, there’s MC.)

This challenge has been completely and utterly exhausting.  I will be glad when it’s over next week.  Really, really glad.

To quote Thom Donovan, whose guidelines we used for the New York School poem:

“It is a “recipe” or constraint of sorts for writing a New York School poem (my class read James Schuyler, Bernadette Mayer, Charles Bernstein, and Dorothea Lasky—a heterodox selection, I realize; and listened to Eileen Myles, Schuyler, Robert Creeley, and Ron Padgett via PennSound).

“Students were encouraged to use as many of the following “ingredients” as possible:

  1. at least one addressee (to which you may or may not wish to dedicate your poem)
  2. use of specific place names and dates (time, day, month, year)–especially the names of places in and around New York City
  3. prolific use of proper names
  4. at least one reminiscence, aside, digression, or anecdote
  5. one or more quotations, especially from things people have said in conversation or through the media
  6. a moment where you call into question at least one thing you have said or proposed throughout your poem so far
  7. something that sounds amazing even if it doesn’t make any sense to you
  8. pop cultural references
  9. consumer goods/services
  10. mention of natural phenomena (in which natural phenomena do not appear ‘natural’)
  11. slang/colloquialism/vernacular/the word “fuck”
  12. at least one celebrity
  13. at least one question directed at the addressee/imagined reader
  14. reference to sex or use of sexual innuendo
  15. the words “life” and “death”
  16. at least one exclamation/declaration of love
  17. references to fine art, theater, music, or film
  18. mention of genitals and body parts
  19. food items
  20. drug references (legal or illegal)
  21. gossip
  22. mention of sleep or dreaming
  23. use of ironic overtones”

NaPoWriMo