Some of us will wake on the first day of May with a giant sense of relief. Why? Because we know we can attend to the laundry, bills, dishes in the sink, and our paying jobs without also trying to squeeze in fifteen or twenty minutes a day for drafting a new poem.
But wait right there! Who said anything about calling a halt to a regular writing practice simply because the calendar reads MAY?
Confession: Last year I had a busy April, so I did my poem-a-day in May. What a fabulous idea it turned out to be. A little lonely, but still very worthwhile. Then I sort of fell off the po-wagon until the following April. However, wayward ways tendencies, my goal for the remainder of 2014 is to write most days. Unless I am wrung out completely or called away on urgent business, I am poeming (did I really just say that) quasi-daily until further notice. How?
The answer is easy!
The first is to go and check out CA Conrad's rad, rad (Soma)tics poetry exercises and "happenings," including an upcoming visit to Denise Levertov's gravesite (Seattle, WA), which I swear I learned about on his FB page but can't track down anywhere on the web - please post a comment if you can provide the date and time, and I will promise to be there!
Another way to get stoked is by, well, doing what I do: read lots of great poems and turn them into writing prompts. I was doing this so much with fellow poet Kelli Russell Agodon, that we decided we'd make an entire book of them, one for every day of the year. It's called The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice, and this Huffington Post guy really liked it. A LOT.
This is what our Ad-libbing Poetry Exercise Factory looks like:
We spend most of the day in a cafe, on Kelli's deck, or sitting on a driftwood log at the beach (alas, she lives on a peninsula), reading poems aloud from books we love, like Mark Bibbins' Sky Lounge and Natalie Diaz's When My Brother Was An Aztec), and riffing/ripping off their energy, moxie, and chutzpah. On our best writing days I may challenge Kelli to write an abecedarian in fifteen minutes; it must contain an angel or saint, a belly, a place name, and the speaker must be reincarnated into a horse.
The last time we got together, Kelli whipped out a stack of 3x5 cards, and I knew right away it was going to be a fun/productive day. So, without further ado:
The Perpetual Poetry Prompt, a 3x5 Card Extravaganza (patent pending):
(1) After flipping through some of your favorite poetry books, choose twelve words and write them down on one side of a 3x5 card.
(2) Flip the card over, and write down four specific instructions. Examples: (1) begin and end with an iamb; (2) include at least one foreign phrase; (3) interrupt yourself twice; (4) your speaker receives advice from a mattress.
(3) Exchange cards with someone (or send your words and instructions to someone via text, email, or purloined letter).
Repeat as needed.
Kelli Russell Agodon is a prize-winning poet, writer, and editor from the Northwest. She is the author of Hourglass Museum, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room (both from White Pine Press), Small Knots (2004) and Geography (2003). She co-edited the first eBook anthology of contemporary women’s poetry, Fire On Her Tongue and recently published The Daily Poet, a book of poetry writing exercises she coauthored with Martha Silano. Kelli is the co-founder of Two Sylvias Press and was the editor of Seattle’s literary journal, Crab Creek Review for the last five years. She writes about living and writing creatively on her blog, Book of Kells at: www.agodon.com or on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/agodon, or write to her directly at: kelli (at) agodon.com.