April is National Poetry Writing Month, AKA NaPoWriMo. Each April, people from all around the world set out to write a poem a day for 30 days. There is something wonderful about a creative challenge in which so many people from so many countries are involved. All that energy and focus; it’s like being invited to a big party where everyone is celebrating poetry.
Check out the fabulous NaPoWriMo website set up by Maureen Thorson, a poet living in Washington, DC. Each day, Maureen posts an optional prompt and poetry-related links (this year, the focus is on poetry in translation). A different participant is also featured every day. Hundreds of people register their sites so you can check out how other adventuring poets are doing, read their responses to the prompts, and get inspired.
Of course, the crafting of a poem takes time, and there is plenty of time once the month is over to work on all those drafts. But while April is in session, there is a beauty to the fact that you can’t spend ages agonising over each one. A bit like the timed drawings in making comics, something has the opportunity to come through that might not have done if you had longer to think about it.
This is an opportunity to dive in and try out all sorts of different poetic forms, things you wouldn’t normally try or things you haven’t even heard of. Last year – my second year participating – I tried my hand at a terzanelle, a landay, and an abecedarian poem, to name just three of the many forms the NaPoWriMo website threw my way.
April is the perfect month for a poetic challenge. It begins with April Fool’s Day, after all. Perhaps we can dance our way through a month of poetry, carefree as The Fool in the tarot deck, off on a new adventure.
We need more poets, not fewer, as some critics of creative writing programs would have it. We invite you to do what Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy asked: to add your light to the sum of light. Do it with patience, and love, and respect for the depth and difficulty of the task.